Why Your Cat Stares At You

Is your cat staring at you and you’re not sure why? Learn why your cat behaves like this and what it means from our animal experts.

23rd February 2024

Have you ever looked across the living room to see your cat staring at you without blinking? If you’ve got a curious kitty, then you may have wondered why it behaves this way. 

Cats are very inquisitive animals, and as a cat owner, you’ll be familiar with the notion of having to second-guess their body language. However, with our help, you’ll no longer need to question why your cat stares at you, as we explore the reasons why they do it and what it means.

So, is it a simple case of your feline friend having a cattitude or is there more to it? Let’s take a look.

Why do cats stare at you?

While it may seem a little creepy, don’t panic, your cat hasn’t been possessed. In fact, the reason your cat stares at you is often simple and this type of behaviour is very common. Here are the main reasons why.

Starting to get hungry

Feel like you’re being watched? One of the most obvious reasons why your cat might stare at you is because they’re ready for food. If they have that longing look in their eyes and it’s close to their normal feeding time, it’s likely they’re trying to convince you to fill up their food bowl. 

Not only will they try the full Puss in Boots wide-eyed treatment, but you may find the staring is also accompanied by a few meows for added effect.

Showing you affection

Interestingly, if your cat's staring gaze is more like long, slow blinks, then it’s likely they’re showing you affection. This can also be known as “eye kisses”, due to their half-closed eyelids and cute facial expressions. 

Not so creepy after all, is it? If you see your cat replicating this staring motion, then you should take it as a compliment.

Feeling relaxed and calm

Another friendly reason for a staring kitty is that they actually feel nice and relaxed. If you’ve got a cool cat that’s super chilled out, then you may notice it appears to stare more than some of its other feline friends.

If so, then it could just be another sign that they’re showing you affection and is because they feel content and happy in their surroundings.

Starting to get annoyed

If your cat is staring because they’re annoyed, then you’re likely to notice other body language movements that suggest this is the trigger. If they look stiff and rigid, have a puffed-up body, or are vigorously swishing their tail side-to-side, then this is usually them trying to tell you that they feel threatened. 

If you’re causing this behaviour, then it’s best not to approach them and wait until they calm down first. Try to avoid eye contact and keep a suitable distance. We all need a bit of space from time to time!

Feeling frightened

If you notice your cat’s tail is tucked underneath them and they’re crouching down, it’s usually because they feel frightened. Especially if you find them hiding somewhere, like under the dining room table or a bush outside. 

If this is the case, then they’re probably staring because they’re looking out for potential danger and assessing the surrounding environment. If it’s something you’ve done that’s triggered it, like dropping a glass on the kitchen floor or mowing the lawn, then why not give your kitty a treat as a peace offering?

Staring without blinking

If your cat is staring at you without blinking, then fear not, as there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.

Cats have something called a nictitating membrane, which allows them to blink without closing their eyelids. Common among desert creatures, the nictitating membrane helps clear the eye of any dirt without hindering an animal’s vision.

So, it’s likely that your cat is actually using their nictitating membrane to blink, which means you’ll be unable to notice whether they’re blinking or not.

This is why a cat’s stare can often feel more intense and another reason why you may think your feline friend always seems to be staring at you.

Cats staring with big pupils - what does this mean?

If you notice your cat has larger pupils than usual when staring at you, this is because their pupils fluctuate based on light and emotion. More often than not your cat will have vertical, slit-shaped pupils, which means they’re relaxed. 

However, occasionally, you may notice their pupils are round and large. This is because fear and anxiety cause a cat’s pupils to dilate for a short time. If this enlargement of the pupils doesn’t last very long, then you have nothing to worry about and it’s perfectly normal.

If you notice an irregularity in your cat’s pupil shape over a long period of time, you should probably think about contacting your vet.

Cats rely on their eyes, especially for their nocturnal activities - we believe every cat should be covered by a cat insurance policy to help cover any vets bills should the worst happen.

Should you look your cat in the eye?

Whether you stare back at your cat depends on their body language. If they’re staring because they look happy and content, then sure, show them some love in return by gazing into their eyes. If they appear distressed and angry, then it’s best to avoid eye contact and give them space.

It’s important to remember that staring is a form of communication for your cat, so make sure you treat them accordingly, depending on how they’re behaving towards you.

Should I slow blink at my cat?

Yes, cats tend to perceive slow blinking in a positive way. If your cat is slow blinking, it’s usually a sign of trust and is a common way of showing you they’re happy in your company. So, because it usually means your kitty loves and trusts you, why not return the gesture?

Now you know exactly why your cat stares at you, check out more cat advice so you and your feline friend can have the puuurfect friendship.

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