How many times have you walked down the street and seen a cat, casually sitting in a window, taking stock of the world? Does your cat do the same? Spend hours on end looking out the window, enjoying the sights, perhaps chirping at the odd bird?
What is the fascination though? We can’t possibly all live in such exciting neighborhoods. Why do cats like to sit in windows so much, and should we limit their window time like we would screen time for our kids?
Why Do Cats Like to Sit in Windows?
Looking out windows is highly entertaining for cats. It’s a great form of environment enrichment, and a fabulous way to pass the time. Consider the window your cat’s TV set.
Cats can get bored looking at the same four walls all day long. Even if you play with them a lot and provide plenty of human entertainment, cats do appreciate variety. There are things going on outside that will never happen indoors: animals, people, smells, sounds, all of which are highly entertaining to curious felines.
Cats also like to guard their homes, so they may be keeping an eye on the neighborhood. If there are plenty of other animals around, they will especially want to know what they are up to. Birds are of course just as entertaining, as are hoomans.
Sasha, for example, insists on being allowed to sit in her preferred window as soon as the sun rises. God forbid you fail to raise the blinds at dawn. She won’t let you go back to sleep until you do.
Exhibit A: Sasha the window-loving feline, giving me the eyes as I interrupt her daily neighborhood surveillance.
Here’s why our cats love to sit in windows so much:
It’s Free Entertainment
When you think about it, windows for cats are much like TVs for us. They provide a glimpse into a reality that is not quite our own. They provide a break from our daily routine, and are a great way to pass the time of day.
For our cats, it’s a great activity to insert between mealtimes, playtimes, sitting on their owner’s heads times and trying to fit into the smallest box in the house times.
At least they get their window seats for free. We humans still have to pay for cable and streaming.
There’s a Dog in Sight
Dogs can also provide endless entertainment. Since they are safely separated by the glass (and the height), cats can enjoy some dog watching without fear.
Some cats don’t even understand the concept of dog. They’ve never met one, so they aren’t sure what that thing with the tail is, but it’s rather fun to observe. If the dog happens to go berserk when the cat is spotted, all the better. Extra smugness is then available, as the feline dominates the canine from its window perch.
The Neighborhood Cat is Taking a Walk
If your area has a lot of cats, your pet will love to communicate with them via the window. They may be strays, or they may just be cats that are allowed to go outside. In any case, your resident feline will keep an eye on them, to ensure they don’t invade your life and start to get unsolicited pets from you.
There Are Birds To Be Chirped At
Cats chirp at birds. Period. It’s mostly down to hunting instinct, and the fact that there is this annoying pane of glass preventing them from feasting on glorious fresh meat.
Whether you have a bird feeder nearby (in which case you want to make sure it’s high enough so no cats can get to it) or birds just randomly appear from time to time: your cat will love to stare at them ferociously.
And it might sound something like this:
Squirrels are of course a prime source of entertainment for cats. They are fast, furry and furious, and even humans love to watch their antics. How can we expect cats to resist? It’s like football for us: where is he going, will he manage to steal the nut?
Insects Are Active
Flies and other flying objects of course
provide more great window gazing fun. They again play into that hunting instinct cats are famous for, and are great for improving eye-paw coordination. While cats can eat flies, make sure they don’t make a habit of eating their winged prey, as it won’t be good for them in the long run.
There Are People to Pursue
If your window looks out on the street, your cat will love to play nosy parker. They will want to know what each of the neighbors is up to, who has been walking out with whom, what the random people on the street are wearing and doing: they will want to know everything.
They Are Keeping an Eye on Us
Cats will of course sit in windows keeping an eye on us too. They may be awaiting our return, or they may be keeping watch if we are doing something in the garden. After all, you never know what might happen, or what kind of offense we might commit.
Cats also tend to greet their owners as soon as they walk in the door, and sniff all the news out, quite literally.
They Are Guarding the Place
While cats are no guard dogs, they aren’t far behind either. They are great at keeping an eye on the place, and can even notify you someone is about to ring the doorbell, if that’s the way the window is facing. While they may not be as infamous for their relationship with the postman, they can be just as alert to strangers and potential dangers, real or perceived.
They Like the Curtains
Curtains can also provide hours of entertainment. While they do tend to get in the way, they also serve as excellent climbing surfaces, and are also a good chewable material. They can even serve as decent bedding, once they have been torn down successfully.
They Like to Lick the Windows
If condensation tends to form on your windows, your cat may just enjoy licking it. It’s like a special treat for cats, who will stop at nothing to get at every last drop. You may need to do some window cleaning in the near future though, as those paw prints won’t disappear on their own.
They Enjoy the Breeze
If there’s a bit of a breeze going in the window, your cat will also enjoy the benefits of all those tempting smells wafting in from the street. Among all the unpleasant ones we tend to register, like smoke and gas, there is the occasional pure pleasure, like perfume or food.
Since cats have much more sensitive noses than we do, they will love the scent feast.
And they will also enjoy the fresh air that is much better than the stifling one you store indoors.
If you do open a window near your cat, always make sure they can’t get out. Screens are a great choice, as long as you ensure they are quite sturdy and will not succumb to claws and cat weight.
They Are Sunbathing
Cats love to sleep and roll around in the sun. If the window happens to be where the current sun pool is, they will use every opportunity to work on their tan. Oh, wait.
Cats don’t absorb vitamin D the same way we do, so the sun is simply a source of heat for them. They love the warmth, and it helps combat the slight temperature drop that happens when a cat dozes off.
The Sounds Are Interesting
The window is of course also a great source of sound. While some cats will hate the noise, others will enjoy it very much, especially once they get used to it. They may of course get spooked by the unexpected ones, like firecrackers or a car backfiring, but that’s perfectly normal and to be expected.
Why Do Cats Sit in the Window and Meow?
Cats will meow in the window when they want to be let out, or when they have seen something interesting: a bird, another cat, a dog. Some cats are also just generally vocal, and will have conversations with themselves (or you) while sitting in the window.
If your cat is allowed to go outside, they may be meowing at the window to be let out. They have probably seen something they want to investigate up close.
Even if you have an indoor cat, they will signal you that they have spotted something with a meow. Birds are the usual offenders (although they are accompanied by more of a chirp), but any invasion of a cat’s territory will be reprimanded by a noise.
Your cat may also just be telling you what they have seen. If we could speak cat, perhaps we’d be able to hear all about next door’s new car, or the fact that the local Dachshund has a new coat.
Why Do Cats Look Out the Window at Night?
Cats see very well in the dark, so they will look out the window at night for the same reasons they do in the daytime: entertainment. And since you are sleeping, they will probably need something fun to do.
There are all sorts of interesting things to see at night: owls, rodents, all kinds of creatures venture out after nightfall. Plus, it’s much calmer, so your cat can meditate a bit on world domination while you are safely tucked away in bed.
While you don’t need to leave a light on for your cat at night, you can provide a light source near the window, so your cat has something to see by. This can be especially useful if you have a yard, as it will be able to notice all the local animals frolicking around in the wee hours.
Why Do Cats Lick the Windows?
Cats lick the windows when condensation has formed on them. It’s just fresh water, so there’s no harm in it.
You may also be reinforcing this behavior, as you find it odd. If you come up to your cat and have a chat about their activity, they will see it as something positive and just keep doing it.
Don’t worry if your cat licks the window. You will probably need to clean it more often, but that’s all in the line of duty of any cat owner.
Do Cats Need a Window?
Cats don’t need a window, but they will certainly appreciate one. It will be a great source of entertainment for when they are alone, or you are busy and can’t be relied on for fun.
If you can’t provide access to a window (which is practically impossible), make sure your cat has plenty of toys and other stimuli. They will get bored if they have nothing to do, and may become destructive.
Setting up a window perch is easy. Either you let the cat sit on a cat tree, a cat shelf or a piece of furniture, or your window may be large enough to accommodate them all on its own. Sasha has her own chair placed near the window, which she uses to climb up.
Is It Good For Cats to Look Out the Window?
Yes, it’s very good for cats to look out windows, as it provides a lot of mental stimulation and keeps them both happy and entertained.
The average cat can spend as much as 5 hours a day (and night) looking out the window, so don’t discourage your feline. Let them stare at their own thing. After all, they don’t interrupt you while you are watching TV. Well, at least they don’t do it every time.
Wrapping It Up
Cats love to sit in windows just as much as we like to sit in front of screens. Ensure they are comfortable, perhaps even create a little cat bed for them, so they can lie in the sun and soak all of the world in.