If you’ve ever moved out of the room or blocked your view of your cat because of their staring, you’re really not the first and you won’t be the last.
Cats really are not afraid of making eye contact. In fact, they really push the boundary on socially accepted times for holding a person’s gaze. Amongst chirping, meowing, rubbing against you, head butting and tail wagging, staring is one of the least helpful bits of body language your cat uses. It’s just plain weird isn’t it? What do they want?!
The good news is that your cat’s staring isn’t just them figuring out how to take control of your mind. Instead, it’s their very own special form of communication. Let’s take a closer look at your cats very special and intense way of saying hey:
What Does A Cat Staring Look Like?
Unlike a cat glancing at you, or looking at you, a cat staring at you is very different. It is very obvious they are letting you know something and it can often be accompanied by other body language or actions that give you more as a clue to what is going on.
Why Is My Cat Staring At Me?
There is no one answer as to why your cat is staring at you because there are multiple reasons you’re getting ‘the look’. Here are some common reasons your cat is staring you out:
The Look Of Love
Is your cat staring at you whilst slowly blinking? It looks like the blink you see the cat doing towards the end of this Youtube video. It is commonly accepted that this is a sign of affection towards the recipient and can often be paired with tail shaking or . It is also a sign that the cat trusts you and sees you as no threat. If you do it back to them, it is supposed to show them that you feel the same, although how much they care, we don’t know.
Does your cat ever stare at you and look a little bit like an advert for an animal charity? Is this stare paired with them rubbing against you or head butting your leg? If it is, they may well be letting you know they are hungry. This gorgeous feral does a great presentation of this behaviour on this Youtube video.
Your cat may also sit at their food area and stare, or stare at you until you move, and then run into their food area to ‘let you know’ what they want.
They are Trying To Ask You To Back Off
If your cat has a swishing or wagging tail, their ears are down or they are grumbling, it may be that they are staring to ask you to back off. They may lurch towards you whilst staring, or give you a paw tap as a warning. If this happens, it’s time to give kitter some space.
They Are Scared
Does the cat have dilated pupils? Are they lip smacking? Are they hiding, or crouching in a corner whilst staring? If this is the case, the cat may be scared and won’t take their eyes off you because you are the threat. They may also be wide eyed, looking around and then back at you, checking for more threats and danger. If this is the case, there are some great tips on helping a shy or scared cat from cat expert Jackson Galaxy in this Youtube video.
More often than not, there are other clues as to what a cat is saying with their stare. Looking out for those clues will help you understand the cat more, and how to respond to their staring.
They Are Playful
Sometimes a cat is staring at you because something on you has interested them. Maybe you have dangly earrings, your tapping foot looks like prey, or you’re totally unaware of a spider on your head – either way, if your cat is staring at you with dilated pupils and starts crouching and wiggling their butt – watch out!
Is My Cat Staring At Me…. Or A Ghost?
One of the other times cats famously stare, is when they seem to be staring at something that you can’t see. They might be staring at a wall, and you have no idea why. This can be really spooky because we naturally assume there could be a supernatural situation going on.
Interestingly, there is a scientific reason your cat may seem to be seeing things that you can’t. Cats eyes have up to eight times more light-sensing rods than human eyes, and they might even see some light types we can’t see. For that reason, they could be seeing slight movements and light that we can’t see. It is also why they have such an epic time running around the house at night loving life – they can see really well in the dark.
So now you know why your cat stares, you can relax, knowing that they probably aren’t plotting to do something bad… probably.
By understanding their nonverbal communication more, we can become better cat parents and care for our feline friends more efficiently, which is better for both their wellbeing, and ours.