Many cat owners have found themselves in the situation where they are just minding their own business, eating some lunch and their cat is just staring at them, wide eyes locked onto them and that can be pretty unnerving to most people.
So, why does your cat stare at you ?
Besides the fact that it can be considered a method of communication, staring is also a sign of a close bond between you and your cat, since it is quite unlikely for them to hold any eye contact with someone they are not close with or even trust.
The stare accompanied by the so called cat “eye kisses”, which is a term to describe when a cat stars with half lidded eyes and blinks rather slowly at you, means that your cat is showing a great amount of adoration for you!
Another reason why they could be staring at you is because they might be hungry!
Instead of challenging you to a staring contest, this behavior also indicates something that you may have accidentally trained your cat to do, without even realizing it in the first place.
Since cats are a solitary species, they don’t feel the instinctual need to hold eye contact with others to communicate, like other animals do, however they are more than willing to do this when they think they can get something out of the interaction that is beneficial to them.
So, if your cat has stared at you in the past, you may have understood it to mean that they want some of your food or attention and have given them a treat or pet them as a response. This would have made your pet cat associate holding eye contact with getting rewarded so they will definitely want to try it again to see if the outcome will end up being the same.
If you reward this behavior frequently then over time your cat is more likely to stare at you to get what they want out of you. For very much the same reasons, cats have learnt to meow, as they don’t have any need to communicate with other cats in this particular way. So, when we hear them meow at us we are most likely to interpret this as them saying that they want something and in turn reinforce this behavior by giving them exactly that.
You need to pay attention to your cat’s body language
Even though cats can communicate a lot about how they are feeling or thinking by simply staring at you, it is also important to consider your cat’s body language in this equation.
How can you recognize what they’re feeling based on body language though?
- First off, if you find your cat snuggled up next to you while looking at you and slowly blinking, you can securely assume that they are happy and content with themselves. Another indicator of a happy cat that just wants to get your attention or say that they love you is if their body language is relaxed and generally loose.
- The opposite of a happy cat in this situation is an agitated one. If you see your cat’s tail swishing, their ears are turned to the side and their pupils are dilated, that means the cat is upset and wishes to be left alone. In this case, you can try to distract them, while keeping your distance of course, and redirect their attention on to another activity or thing. A good way to resolve the tension and break the eye contact is by throwing a toy or any small object across the room to get your cat to chase after it, and when your cat appears to be calmed down a bit you can try to engage in an activity they actually like to do.
- However, if your cat is staring at you with dilated pupils while crouched with their tail tucked right under them, or if they are hiding under or behind a couch, this most likely indicates a fear response. What most likely happened was that you accidentally spooked them with a loud noise, like dropping something or cheering during a game on TV.
The reason why they are staring in this situation is that the cat may be looking out for danger which is something that cats naturally do in the wild to remain aware of any predators around. What you should do to help ease the fear is to completely avoid approaching them directly, instead try gently tossing a treat in her direction.
Cats are highly intelligent animals and over some time, they may just learn that staring at their owners is a way to get their attention. So, whether they are hungry, fearful, or just plain happy to be in your presence, there are a great many reasons why they stare at their owners.
Even though staring is usually not a thing to be worried about, if your cat has started doing this behavior only recently, then it should be mentioned on your next trip to the vet so they can promptly rule out any medical issues. Excessive staring in older cats can also be a sign of sight loss, so do get them checked out as soon as possible.