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Home > Cats > Do Cats Like Eye Contact? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons They Stare at You

Do Cats Like Eye Contact? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons They Stare at You

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It can be flattering when you catch your cat staring at you from across the room or endearing when they hop up on your desk and watch you as you work. It’s no secret that cats enjoy watching us, but how do they feel when we do it back?

The general consensus is that staring a cat in the eyes is not a good idea as it can be perceived as hostile or aggressive. On the other hand, soft, slow blinking can be a great way to express affection to your cat without coming off as threatening. Let’s investigate further.


Why Does My Cat Stare at Me? The 6 Common Reasons

Cats often lock their eyes on smaller mammals in the wild when hunting or stare down opponents when fighting, but just because your cat is staring at you, it doesn’t mean they’re planning to attack or make a meal out of you. Cats stare at their humans for a variety of reasons.

1. To express contentment

A happy cat’s body language is relaxed, and they may stare at you while slowly blinking. This is considered a sign of affection and contentment at spending time with you.

2. It’s feeding time

Cats express hunger in different ways, some by meowing and some by staring. If you catch your cat staring at you intently, especially while you’re waking up in the morning, this could be their way of saying, “Hey! Do you know what time it is?”.

close up of cat with long whiskers looking at the camera
Image Credit: Jumpstory

3. Your cat is afraid

A frightened cat may stare at you while crouching down or arching their back, tucking their tail under their body, or hiding behind something. Their tail may also puff up. This sometimes happens when your cat hears a sudden and loud noise.

4. They’re feeling curious

Curious cats have a tendency to watch whatever has attracted their interest. If this is you, you might catch them staring at you with relaxed or neutral body language. Don’t worry, they’re not in the throes of formulating some evil but ingenious plan to take over the world—as far as we know, anyway!

A Red cat on the arms of a girl. A girl is stroking a cat. Cat humming in her arms
Image Credit: Nikita Dukhnik, Shutterstock

5. To express anger

If your cat is staring at you while lashing their tail back and forth, standing rigidly, and with their ears turned out sideways or flattened down, they may be expressing anger. This stance could be accompanied by growling and hissing. If this happens, don’t stare back at your cat as it could be perceived as a threat, simply ignore them.

6. They don’t feel well

Cats that aren’t feeling quite the ticket, especially if their blood pressure is high, may have dilated pupils or red eyes. As staring is also a way for cats to get your attention, as when they’re hungry, an unwell cat staring at you may be trying to alert you to the fact that something’s up.


Should I Ever Stare Back at My Cat?

If your cat is angry or afraid, staring back at them may indicate aggression to them and exacerbate their fears or frustration, so it’s best to avoid staring. On the other hand, if your cat’s body language is relaxed and they’re blinking slowly at you, you can certainly try softly, slowly blinking back! This is a way to express friendliness and affection to your cat.

cat looking man's chin
Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Though it may be impossible to read your cat’s mind, you can certainly learn to read its emotions with a bit of practice. We tend to notice more easily when cats are distressed, afraid, or angry as their eyes and body language are much more telling, but sometimes we miss the little signs of affection or even adoration in a cat’s gaze.

Featured Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

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