When cats are happy they purr or make biscuits and when they’re agitated they might hiss or scratch. Some types of cat behavior and body language are relatively easy to interpret but you may wonder ‘why does my cat stare at me/What is my cat thinking?’.
If you’ve engaged in a staring contest or two with your feline friend and want to understand more about why a cat stares, continue reading. The reasons why your cat may be staring may surprise you and it doesn’t hurt to learn more about what makes your best fur friend tick.
Why Do Cats Stare?
For many animals, direct eye contact can be a sign of aggression and a display of dominance but this isn’t always the case. Cats are intelligent animals with plenty of ways to communicate via their body language and it might surprise you to know that a cat’s stare can be a way of communicating a number of things.
Although we’ve previously mentioned that unbreaking eye contact isn’t always a display of dominance, it can be if you find your kitty stares at other cats frequently. This is especially common if the other cat is unfamiliar or new to the household. Your cat may stare in an attempt to unnerve the other feline and assert its dominance.
When a cat attempts to assert dominance over another cat there will be other signs present that will signify hostility. These signs will include dilated pupils, hair standing on end, and tail twitching.
Cats are curious creatures and will often stare at their owners in an attempt to understand what they’re doing. They also love to know what’s going on around them, so if your home is particularly busy you may observe your cat staring more often.
In some cases, a staring cat may be a bored cat. If you find yourself sitting peacefully and look over to see them gazing across the room at you, try taking out a toy and engaging them in some playtime. Not only will this keep them happy and occupied but it will also strengthen your bond and reduce potential nighttime zoomies.
One of the most common reasons why your cat is staring at you may be because feeding time draws near. And they know it. Staring might be an attempt to coax you into feeding them sooner or to perhaps intimidate you into adding a little extra into their food bowl when the time comes.
They’re Looking for or Showing Affection
Sometimes your cat’s staring at you simply because they love you or want a fuss. Typically, when they are doing this they will have a relaxed body language and the staring will be accompanied by slow blinking. It’s their way of telling you they feel safe and comfortable in your presence.
If you invite them closer or reach down to pet them you will probably be met with a happy, purring cat. If they evade your hand, they may have just wanted to admire you from afar.
A relaxed cat may stare at you without even realizing it. However, they may also stare at you to communicate that they are more than content with how things are going.
They’re Stressed or Scared
Staring may also be a sign that your cat is anxious or afraid and is trying to tell you so. If your cat is on edge, coupled with direct eye contact, you will find that they will be in a crouched position with their tail tucked under their body.
If it’s likely that your cat is feeling uneasy, comforting or distracting them are great ways to defuse tension. Try engaging them in some play or move them to a quiet area to help calm them. To learn more about stress in cats, read this related article.
When to Worry
When you take notice of odd behaviors it’s normal to be concerned about your pet’s health. Rest assured, cat staring is no cause for concern as it’s their way of trying to communicate with you.
Having said that, if you spot other worrying behaviors such as hiding more than normal, excessive grooming, scratching, and/or noticeable changes in eating habits it’s always worth seeking veterinary advice. These behaviors combined could be a sign that there is something wrong with your cat so it’s worth talking to a licensed veterinarian to be on the safe side.
Why Does My Kitten Stare at Me?
Now we understand the reasons why your cat stares at you, you may wonder if kittens stare for the same reasons. Kittens will stare for the same reasons listed above but you may also find that they do it more often. This is because they are still young and are absorbing everything that goes on around them. If you have other pets in the house, such as a dog, they may be picking up on their unique behaviors and will adorably try to replicate them.
What to Do When Your Cat Stares
Sometimes, a cat staring at you can be creepy if they do it persistently and you may want them to stop. In most cases, this can be solved with a simple trick. Playtime.
Play with Them!
Take out their favorite toy and play with your feline friend. Playing provides cats with mental stimulation and can help you form a strong bond with them. It will also help them to burn energy and will surely have the napping soon after.
Cat owners can also purchase interactive toys during the times when they are too busy to play. These toys will provide ample stimulation and can help cats unleash their hunting instincts.
Do not Relent
If your cat has taken to staring at you when feeding time approaches you must never give in. If you give in once, they will keep staring you down in an attempt to get the same result as before.
Also feeding them off schedule or giving them more than what they should be eating is never a good idea. Not only can it have negative effects on their physical health but they may also get the impression that you will continue being submissive and test the boundaries elsewhere!
Understanding your Cat’s Behavior and Body Language
Cats use more than just eye contact to communicate with those around them. Cat communication can also involve ear and tail movements and even vocalizations.
You will also be able to understand a lot about your cat through their day-to-day behavior. For example, a cat that eats all of its meals spends a lot of time in its owners’ presence and doesn’t appear intimidated by other cats or pets is a happy and healthy kitty.
Relaxed & Happy
A relaxed cat is easy to spot. If your kitty is happy and comfortable at home they will not tend to spend time hiding or lounging in high-up places. They will also be happy to sleep and relax in your near vicinity (and may even show you their belly on occasion – a huge sign of trust!).
Along with these general tendencies, your cat will slowly blink at its owners and may even chirp or meow. Not only this but your cat’s tail can also be used as another indicator that they’re content. Upon greeting you, their tail will be erect and they will often curl it around you as they brush up against your leg.
When a cat is feeling agitated there are a number of ways you can identify this. First of all, your cat’s eyes will dilate if approached but will be narrowed before a fight or flight response kicks in. Often your cat’s attention will be fixated on the cause of the tension but not always.
Their tail will also be somewhat puffed and will be flicking a twitching. Depending on how tense they feel the tails movements will speed up or slow down. Moreover, a tense cat will flatten its ears and will potentially growl or hiss at whatever is causing them to be on edge.
For a more in-depth guide to understanding cat behavior and body language, check out this article featured here.
Q: Do cats like eye contact?
A: As mentioned, cats use staring as a way of communicating. If you stare back at your own cat they may perceive this to be aggressive behavior. They may not become hostile but they will certainly become uncomfortable which could damage your bond with them.
Q: Is Cat staring a sign of aggression?
A: In most cases, no. However, the exception here is if your cat feels threatened by the presence of another feline they may use eye contact as a way of intimidating them. If this is drawn out either or both cats will become aggressive.
If you find your cat having a staring contest with another feline, take note of their body language. If they’re showing signs of hostility you may want to intervene before a chase or fight ensues. Signs of aggressive body language are detailed above.
Q: What do slow blinks mean?
A: Slow blinks are a sure sign that your kitty loves you and that they are comfortable. Yes, a cat can slow blink as they are relaxing but this usually happens as they’re falling asleep. An ‘I love you’ slow blink when they are looking directly at you or going about their day is their way of showing you their affection.
Q: What do I do when my cat stares at me?
A: First, check there are no signs of anger or anxiety. If your cat is uncomfortable, play with them or pet them. If they’re perfectly content, they could just be waiting for dinner time – but you mustn’t give in and feed them sooner!