How to Decode Your Cat's Window Gazing Habits

Cats enjoy spending time near windows, where they can see the world outside. Their fascination with the outside world is profoundly engrained in their personality. This activity of gazing outside is commonly referred to as "window gazing" by cat enthusiasts.

Our cats spend a lot of time staring out of windows. What lies behind the window-gazing habit of cats?
Our furry friends spend a lot of time staring out of windows. What lies behind the window-gazing habit of cats?

According to studies, cats spend about 80 minutes of their waking hours near windows, where they enjoy their favorite hobby of window gazing. When we consider that cats are generally awake for 8 to 12 hours each day, but this might vary based on age, health, and personality, we can conclude that cats spend approximately 20% of their waking hours staring out the window. 

What causes cats to gaze out of windows so much?

This kind of cat behavior can be linked to a variety of causes. In the wild, cats seek out high perches to protect themselves from predators. Being in a high place gives them a better vantage point to monitor their surroundings and identify potential hazards. Even in the home, cats retain this tendency because higher spaces provide a sense of protection and control, and they seek out high areas such as bay windows or cat towers.

And last but not least, claiming high areas with nice views assists them in establishing authority and ownership over the area.
Cats are naturally territorial creatures, therefore they must keep a close check on their surroundings.

Why Cats Love Window Gazing: Cats love relaxing in places where they can observe everything that's going on around them
Cats love relaxing in places where they can observe everything that's going on around them

Cats are also natural hunters. Their strong vision and acute senses make them skilled predators. Although domestic cats do not need to hunt for food, the sight of birds flying or insects buzzing outside can awaken their hunting instincts. Observing prospective prey moving outside the window can be entertaining and psychologically stimulating for a cat, similar to the excitement of the hunt. The outside environment is constantly changing, providing a cat with fresh sights and noises to observe. Aside from the thrill of the chase, window gazing keeps cats entertained. Whether it's different species of birds, squirrels, or insects, there's always something new that will grab a cat's interest, providing limitless entertainment.
It's like having a live nature show one length of a paw away, which keeps them constantly entertained and mentally stimulated. 
Cats have excellent senses, and the sights, sounds, and smells beyond the window are a sensory feast. Observing birds flying, plants rustling, or even cars driving by may stimulate a cat's visual and hearing senses, keeping them mentally engaged.

The Science Behind Cat Behavior: The view from the window is cats' favorite TV program
The view from the window is cats' favorite TV show

Furthermore, windows provide an ideal location for cats to soak up the sun. Cats are renowned sun worshippers, and reclining in a sunny location by the window is one of their favorite pastimes. Cats are naturally drawn to warmth, and basking in the sun helps maintain their body temperature. Bathing in sunlight allows them to absorb heat, which can be very beneficial in colder weather or after periods of rest. Sunlight exposure allows cats to create vitamin D, which is necessary for their overall health. Vitamin D aids calcium absorption and bone health, resulting in strong bones and teeth. 
Sunbathing is naturally calming for cats.
The warmth of the sun's rays help soothe their muscles and joints, encouraging relaxation and lowering stress. This is why you frequently see cats stretched out and appearing pleased while lounging in a sunny place. Window gazing can also help cats relax and relieve tension. According to studies, seeing natural sceneries, such as trees swinging in the breeze or birds flitting about, can help animals cope with stress and anxiety.

Furthermore, window gazing provides a bonding experience for cats and their human friends. Many cats like sitting at the window with their owners and watching the world go by. This shared pastime increases the link between cats and their owners, creating a sense of camaraderie and happiness.

Respect your cat's window-gazing behaviour

Cats do not always actively observe what is going on outside; they may simply sit by the window and relax. The sunshine coming in through the window creates a lovely atmosphere, and cats frequently doze off while there. Cats that stare out the window may also use their eyes to track the movements of small birds and other wildlife. They may feel excited as they see birds and other creatures, even if it is through a glass window. It's critical to be cautious during these times since cats can become startled if touched unexpectedly from behind and may respond defensively.

Cat Behaviour: Many things seen by your cat from the window of your home can excite them
Many things seen by your cat while gazing out the window can excite them

While you may be curious about what they're viewing, you should respect their concentration and observe them quietly. So, if your cat is totally involved in window gazing, allow them to thoroughly enjoy the experience. So, the next time you see your cat gazing out the window, take a moment to enjoy the simple pleasures it offers them. After all, nothing beats a quiet afternoon spent by the window, taking in the sights and sounds of the world beyond.

Cat window gazing: Space near the window can also become the favorite spot of many cats, where they are relaxing, purring, or just sleeping
Space near the window can also become a favorite spot for many cats, where they can relax, purr, or just sleep

Window-gazing behavior of cats in art

Window gazing by cats has been a common motif in art throughout history, reflecting the cats' mysterious and contemplative nature.

Henriette Ronner-Knip was a Dutch painter known for her depictions of cats in domestic settings. One of her most famous works is 'The Cat at the Window', which shows a mother cat and her kitten perched on a window ledge, peering out into the distance. 

The act of cats window gazing became a subject of art, as seen in this painting by Henriette Ronner-Knip appropriately named 'Window Gazing'
The act of cats window gazing became a subject of art, as seen in this painting appropriately named 'Cats at the Window'

Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826–1869) was a Japanese artist who depicted cats gazing through the window in one of his famous works, 'Cat Staring at the Rice Fields at Asakus', created around 1857. In this print, a curious cat is depicted peering out of a window and watching farmers' activity on the rice fields outside. Hiroshige II's ability to portray the curious nature of cats is exemplified by the scene, which captures a peaceful moment of everyday life.

Utagawa Hiroshige II (1826–1869) was a Japanese artist, and one of his well-known works is 'Cat Staring at the Rice Fields at Asakus', which was created around 1857
The tendency of cats to practice window gazing was noticed as far back as ancient Japan, as depicted in this print by the Japanese artist Hiroshige titled 'Cat Staring at the Rice Fields at Asakusa'

This print is part of the wider tradition of ukiyo-e, which often depicted scenes from daily life in Edo-period Japan, including animals. Hiroshige II's work, like that of his master Hiroshige, reflects the charm and beauty of Japanese culture during this period.


The influence of visual stimulation on the behaviour of cats housed in a rescue shelter. Published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, this study investigates the behavioral responses of domestic cats to various visual and auditory stimuli, which could include window gazing behavior.
Comparison of Stress Exhibited by Cats Examined in A Clinic Versus A Home Setting.
While not specifically about window gazing, this study, found in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science , examines the impact of natural light on stress levels in cats, which could indirectly relate to their behavior near windows.

Effects of Human Presence and Voice on the Behaviour of Shelter Dogs and Cats: A Preliminary Study. Published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, this study investigates how visual and auditory stimulation influences the behavior of shelter cats. 

The Influence of Noise Level on the Stress Response of Hospitalized Cats. This study explores how various aspects of the physical environment, including windows and outdoor views, impact the behavior of cats in veterinary clinics.


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