Can Dogs And Cats See Ghosts?

4 signs your pet has seen a spirit

Many have wondered if, perhaps, the exceptional senses of animals might allow them to better observe anomalous activity. To see strange things beyond what we humans are able to experience.

In fact, two surveys have shown that many pet owners not only believe their dogs and cats can see ghosts, but they may ward off evil spirits, as well.

In 2019, a Blue Cross poll revealed that two thirds of pets owners believe their pets have seen ghosts, while over half have at least witnessed their pet staring off into space  — possibly at a lingering spirit!

Meanwhile, another Blue Cross poll from 2015, which surveyed over 2,000 UK pet owners, showed that over 30% of respondents “believe their pets protect them from ghosts and spirits,” according to a report by Medical News Today. In that same poll, 25% of both dog and cat owners said they had witnessed their pets behaving strangely toward a seemingly invisible force.

Which leads us to a simple question: Has your pet ever seen a ghost? Let’s take a look at some of the signs your pet could be witnessing paranormal activity right under your nose.

1. Following something invisible

A dog watches something invisible
Image: Marek Szturc/Unsplash

In December 2011, YouTube user Zack Clark decided to record footage of his dog, Zoey, who had been “exhibiting strange behavior” in his apartment.

This behavior included focusing intently on a certain area of the apartment, following something invisible with her eyes. In the video, the small black puppy could be seen attentively watching a particular corner of the room, near a table. She circled around it, back and forth.

“There is nobody in the house except for me and Zoey (and the ghost),” Clark stated in his video. He could only wonder just what, if anything, she saw that he couldn’t.

At the end of a follow-up video, which Clark uploaded to YouTube in 2012, this behavior was even more apparent. Zoey continued to look up and stare at the alleged ghost. Whatever happened there, it’s clear Zoey could see (or sense) more than her owner.

That’s our first sign: Your pet might seem aware of invisible activity in your home, usually in one specific area.

2. Barking, growling, or hissing when nothing is there

A cat that might be agitated by a ghost. He doesn't look happy.
Image: Tatyana Eremina/Unsplash

Sometimes, the paranormal encounter doesn’t end with fleeting glances and occasionally following something from room to room.

As seen in the aforementioned video, Zoey the dog not only hovered around that invisible something, but also barked and growled at it.

This could, of course, be due to a variety of reasons — perhaps there were mice in the walls, or a sound present that was inaudible to her owner (possibly infrasound, which can cause all sorts of bizarre phenomena). It could even just be a reaction to the shadows on the walls. There are all sorts of things that might rile up a dog or a cat.

But there’s another possibility: Could this barking and growling be a sign that a ghost was present at that moment?

A Cat’s Ghostly Tale

In one exemplary case of this possible ghostly phenomenon, a cat owner found that, after moving into a new house, his otherwise “laid back” cat would do anything he could to avoid one particular room: The living room.

One day, the cat entered that living room and stopped suddenly, staring at an empty space. “His eyes were wide and he began hissing,” his owner wrote.

With the cat still hissing at some invisible intruder, the owner walked over to the mystery spot, and while he couldn’t see anything there, he did feel what he could only describe as a “weird sensation,” possibly the chills.

Was a ghost also standing in that spot?

He calmed the cat down and gave him some treats. But every time the cat would get near the living room, he would hiss, and sometimes even claw at the air, desperately wanting to avoid whatever he could see that we mere humans could not.

3. Ignoring You In Favor Of A Ghostly Friend

A cat ignoring you. So, a cat.

Despite the previous account, I’ve read (I don’t remember where) that cats are more indifferent to spirits than other animals. Or maybe it was that cats are just more indifferent in general. That I can believe.

Some, however, would beg to differ. The third sign that your pet has seen a ghost is simple: acting distractedly. Ignoring you, its attention split by a (potentially) invisible force in the room.

Sometimes you might see your dog or cat preoccupied by something unusual. They won’t be growling or hissing, and they won’t be running around following a potential spirit, but they’ll give you the sense that maybe you’re not the only one vying for his or her attention in that moment.

From personal experience, I can say that cats in particular are usually very mindful of what goes on around them. And though they may sometimes ignore you, more often than not they’re perfectly aware that you want something when you call their name. They simply choose not to acknowledge you.

And yet, there have been cases when owners have found their cats doing more than just giving you the cold shoulder. When he or she almost seems to be playing with another cat. Looking to you, then looking to their invisible friend. Maybe they have a spectral playmate!

4. Fear of the Unknown

A dog may act scared if he or she sees a ghost
Image: Matheus Queiroz/Unsplash

Several years ago, Reddit user Lillibeth shared a story that would seem to exemplify our final clue that your dog or cat has seen a ghost: fear.

At the time, Lillibeth had moved into an old house with her grandparents. The place was at least 100 years old and had a “creepy vibe,” or so she put it.

One night, she and her dog, a Shih Tzu named Lola, were getting ready to go to bed. They were, perhaps ironically, watching Ghost Adventures together. But at a certain point, about an hour later, Lola began to act up. She suddenly jumped to the edge of the bed, and looked over. Her eyes then began to follow something in the air, her head moving back and forth, watching something.

“I would call her name and she wouldn’t move,” Lillibeth wrote. She turned on the light to see if perhaps Lola was being pestered by a fly or a mouse, but she saw nothing. Then, as if in fear, Lola curled up against Lillibeth, occasionally glancing over the edge of the bed throughout the night.

Was Lola afraid of something her owner could not see? A ghost? Or, perhaps, Lola encountered something a bit more terrifying. If animals can sense whether or not a living person has good intentions, perhaps they read spirits in the same way.

Animals the Ability to See Spirits

None of these signs or stories provide proof that cats, dogs, and other animals can actually see ghosts. We can’t speak to our pets. I can’t ask my turtles if they’ve ever seen anything strange lurking around their aquariums (and if they ever did answer, well, that’d be an entirely different topic to write about!).

However, it’s clear that many pet owners believe their furry friends can see things they can’t. How might this be possible?

It’s been established that, in many cases, dogs and cats have more highly developed senses than humans. According to PBS’ NOVA, for example, while dogs may be limited to the same five senses as humans, scientific research has shown that dogs’ incredible sense of smell “overpowers our own by orders of magnitude…10,000 to 100,000 times as acute.”

While they may not see as many colors as we do, dogs and cats also both have larger fields of vision, and can see much better in the dark. They may even be able to see in ultraviolet. This would mean they quite literally might be able to perceive wavelengths of light we simply cannot (this is already confirmed for several animals, including insects, fish, and birds).

At any rate, both dogs and cats can see much better than humans in dim light, during dusk and dawn. Both are far more sensitive to sound than humans, being able to hear frequencies much higher than we can, along with the ability to turn their ears like cones toward the direction of sounds.

Is it possible ghosts emit high frequency sound, or appear visibly in a way animals are better equipped to notice, or even give off strange ghostly smells that our pets are more likely to detect?

Their heightened perceptions, some claim, could indeed mean that dogs, cats, and other animals are able to sense the paranormal, perhaps in a way humans cannot.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.