why do cats look like owls

The striking resemblance between cats and owls, two seemingly disparate creatures of the animal kingdom, has often sparked wonder among observers. With their distinctive facial features, shared nocturnal habits, and the enigmatic aura surrounding both species, the question arises: Why do cats look like owls? 

This stunning similarity between feline and avian forms invites us to look into the mysteries of evolution, adaptation, and the fascinating ways in which nature crafts its creations.

Let’s embark on a journey to unravel the biological and behavioral threads that connect these captivating creatures, offering insights into the secrets of their shared nocturnal world.

Similarities Between Cats and Owls

Despite belonging to different taxonomic orders, cats and owls share a number of similarities in both their physical characteristics and behaviors. These similarities are likely due to the fact that both cats and owls are nocturnal predators that rely on stealth and keen senses to hunt their prey.

Physical Characteristics

Cats and owls both have large, forward-facing eyes that are well-adapted for seeing in low-light conditions. Their eyes are also equipped with a layer of cells called the tapetum lucidum, which helps to reflect light back into the retina and improve night vision.

owls look like cats

Cats and owls both have excellent hearing, which is essential for hunting in the dark. Their ears are able to swivel independently, allowing them to pinpoint the location of prey.

Both have thick fur or feathers that help to insulate them from the cold. Their fur or feathers also help to camouflage them from their prey.

They have streamlined bodies that are designed for speed and agility. Their long, muscular legs allow them to run or fly quickly and quietly.

Both have sharp claws or talons that they use to grasp and kill their prey. Their claws and talons are also used for climbing and defense.

Cats and Owls Behaviors Similarities 

 Both cats and owls are nocturnal predators that hunt small animals such as mice, rats, and birds. They use their stealth, keen senses, and sharp claws or talons to catch their prey.

Both creatures use vocalizations to communicate with each other. Cats meow, purr, and hiss, while owls hoot, screech, and whistle.

Tey are solitary creatures that typically only interact with each other during mating season. However, some species of cats and owls do live in groups.

They prefer to live in areas with plenty of cover, such as forests, grasslands, and deserts. They are also both found in urban areas.

Overall, cats and owls share a number of similarities in both their physical characteristics and behaviors. These similarities are likely due to the fact that both cats and owls are nocturnal predators that rely on stealth and keen senses to hunt their prey.

Differences Between Cats and Owls

Cats and owls are both fascinating creatures, but they have many differences. Here are some of the key distinctions between these two animals:

Physical Characteristics Differences

Cats are typically much smaller than owls, with an average weight of around 10 pounds. Owls, on the other hand, can range in size from small species like the Elf Owl (weighing just a few ounces) to large species like the Great Horned Owl (weighing up to 5 pounds).

Cats have long, slender bodies with short legs and a tail. Owls have more rounded bodies with long legs and wings.

cats look like owls

Cats have vertical pupils, while owls have round pupils. This difference in eye shape is due to the fact that cats are primarily active during the day, while owls are primarily active at night.

 Cats have pointed ears that are always erect. Owls have large, round ears that are often asymmetrical. This asymmetry helps owls to pinpoint the location of sounds in their environment.

Owls have feathers, while cats have fur. Feathers provide owls with insulation, waterproofing, and the ability to fly. Fur provides cats with insulation and protection from the elements.

Behavior and Habitat Differences 

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat meat to survive. Owls are also carnivores, but they have a more varied diet that includes small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

Cats are ambush predators that typically stalk their prey before pouncing. Owls are pursuit predators that typically hunt by flying silently and then swooping down on their prey.

Cats are adaptable animals that can live in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and deserts. Owls are typically found in forests, but some species can also be found in grasslands, deserts, and even urban areas.

The average lifespan of a cat is around 12-18 years. The average lifespan of an owl is around 5-10 years in the wild, though some species can live for up to 20 years in captivity.

Cats vs Owls- Table Guide

While both cats and owls are skilled hunters and carnivores, they differ significantly in their habitats, active hours, and hunting techniques.

Cats are more adaptable and can live in various environments, including homes, while owls are specialized for nocturnal hunting in specific natural habitats. Despite their differences, both animals hold symbolic significance in various cultures and are admired for their unique qualities.

Feature Cats Owls
Habitat Can adapt to various environments, including homes and urban areas Primarily inhabit forests, woodlands, and open spaces
Active Hours Most active during dawn and dusk, but can be active at any time Nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night
Diet Carnivores, with a diet mainly consisting of meat, whether hunted or provided Carnivores, specializing in hunting small mammals, birds, and insects
Vision Excellent night vision, but not as developed during the day Exceptional night vision, adapted for low light conditions, and excellent overall vision
Hunting Style Predators that use a combination of stalking, chasing, and ambushing Skilled hunters using silent flight and precise hearing to locate prey
Communication Communicate through vocalizations, body language, and scent marking Communicate through hoots, screeches, and other vocalizations, crucial for territory and mating rituals
Social Structure Can be solitary or live in groups, depending on the species Generally solitary, with exceptions during mating season or when roosting in groups
Reproduction Give birth to live kittens, usually in a secluded area Lay eggs in nests, and young owlets are born helpless and rely on parents for care
Physical Features Sharp retractable claws, keen sense of smell, and flexible bodies Specialized feathers for silent flight, large forward-facing eyes, and powerful talons
Symbolism Symbolize independence, mystery, and companionship Symbolize wisdom, intelligence, and mystery

Common Misconceptions of Owls Looking Like Cats

Owls and cats are both nocturnal predators with large eyes and sharp claws, but they are actually quite different animals. Owls are birds, while cats are mammals. Owls have feathers, while cats have fur. Owls lay eggs, while cats give birth to live young. Owls have a keen sense of hearing, while cats have a keen sense of smell.

Despite their differences, owls and cats are often mistaken for each other. This is likely due to their similar appearance and behavior. Both animals are often seen at night, and both animals can be quite vocal. Owls and cats also share a reputation for being mysterious and aloof.

The misconception that owls look like cats is a common one. In fact, there are a number of expressions in the English language that refer to owls as cats. For example, we say that someone who is wise is “an old owl,” and that someone who is sneaky is “a sly cat.”

The perception that owls look like cats is also reflected in the way that owls are depicted in popular culture. Owls are often portrayed as wise and mysterious creatures, and they are often associated with witchcraft and magic. This association is likely due to the fact that owls are nocturnal animals and their calls are often heard at night.

The misconception that owls look like cats is a harmless one. However, it is important to remember that owls and cats are actually quite different animals.

4 Reasons Why Owls Look like Cats

There are several reasons why people might think owls look like cats.

Facial similarities

Owls and cats both have large, forward-facing eyes that are well-adapted for seeing in low-light conditions. They also have similarly shaped faces, with a broad forehead and a pointed chin.

Body shape

Both have relatively compact bodies with long tails. Their wings are also similar in shape to a cat’s paws, with five long, sharp claws that they can use to catch prey.

Hunting habits

Both predators hunt small animals. They both use their sharp eyesight and hearing to locate prey, and they both have a stealthy hunting style.


They make a variety of vocalizations, including hoots, chirps, and meows. These vocalizations are often used to communicate with other members of their species, but they can also be used to scare away predators or attract prey.

Why do Some Cats have Eyes that Look like Owls?

Some cats have eyes that resemble owls due to a genetic mutation that affects the shape of their pupils. This mutation, known as anisocoria, causes the pupils to be different sizes, with one pupil being significantly larger than the other.  While anisocoria can be caused by various underlying medical conditions, in some cats, it is simply a harmless genetic trait.

 What advantages do cat’s owl-like eyes provide?

Cats’ eyes are specially adapted for low-light conditions, allowing them to see better in the dark than humans and many other animals.

This is due to a combination of factors, including a large pupil that allows more light to enter the eye, a reflective layer behind the retina that helps to amplify light, and a high concentration of light-sensitive cells in the retina.

Eyes of cats are positioned on the front of their head, which gives them a wider field of vision and better depth perception than animals with eyes on the sides of their head. This is helpful for hunting and navigating in complex environments.

Cats’ eyes are very sensitive to movement, which helps them to track prey and avoid predators. This is due to the high concentration of cone cells in the retina, which are responsible for detecting motion.

Eyes of Cats have a built-in UV filter that helps to protect them from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. This is important because cats are often exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.


In the tapestry of the natural world, the uncanny resemblance between cats and owls stands as a testament to the remarkable adaptability of life forms. Though evolution has shaped them along different paths, the convergent evolution that brings together these creatures reveals the intricate dance between form and function. As we contemplate the shared traits of these nocturnal hunters, we gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of the animal kingdom. The mysterious allure of why cats look like owls serves as a reminder that, in nature’s grand design, there are often hidden threads weaving species together, inviting us to marvel at the wonders of adaptation and evolution that continue to unfold in the ever-evolving theater of life.

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