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Home > Cats > Why Does My Cat Stare at Me? 9 Potential Reasons

Why Does My Cat Stare at Me? 9 Potential Reasons

a domestic cat sitting on a sofa and looks at its owner

You’re relaxing with your favorite drink and a good movie when you feel the back of your neck tickle: It’s the feeling of someone watching you. Turning around, you meet the wide-eyed, unblinking stare of your cat. You might smile fondly and look away, only to notice them still staring at you moments later.

For humans, staring is unnerving and even creepy. However, cats don’t seem to care that their staring is uncomfortable for you. So, why do they do it?

Cats stare because it’s part of their body language. For them, it’s a method of communication. Here’s a list of reasons that your cat stares at you and how to determine what they’re trying to tell you.


The 9 Reasons Why Your Cat is Staring at You

1. Affection

It’s difficult to say for sure why cats stare, but one of the theories is simply that your cat loves you. Similar to how you might affectionately watch them nap or play with their favorite toy, they may watch you for the same reason. They stare because it’s their way of verifying that you’re nearby.

This staring is also the best time for them to show their affection through “kitty kisses.” Those sleepy stares and slow blinks are a high honor for all cat owners.

Cat and owner sleeping together on bed
Image Credit: Marina mrs brooke,Shutterstock

2. Anxiety

Your cat’s emotions can play a part in why they stare at you. If you moved too fast and took them by surprise, they might be staring at you to make sure you’re not a threat, or they could be searching for reassurance.

They could also be using their stare to tell you that they’re not ready to emerge from their hiding place beneath the sofa. Give them time to calm down and verify that the threat is over, and then reassure them when they come looking for cuddles.

3. Communication

Cats heavily rely on their body language when it comes to communicating with others, and their stare can convey many different emotions. They might stare at you to show their comfort, to request attention, or to show their displeasure. Of course, this makes it incredibly difficult for us to determine what our cat wants.

Pay close attention to how your cat behaves when they’re staring at you. If their hackles are up and their tail is flicking, something has upset them, and it’s best to let them cool off. An unrelenting stare could also be them trying to tell you that something is wrong.

cat waking up her owner
Image Credit: WiP-Studio, Shutterstock

4. Curiosity

Many things capture a cat’s attention, and they’ll use all their senses to explore their environment. This can include batting something with their paws, gnawing on it, or sniffing it. They’ll also rely on their eyes, even though cats can’t see close objects that well.

Cats will often stare at things from a distance to work out what they are. This way, they can determine whether something is prey and if so, the best way to hunt it. If you catch your cat staring at you, they could be curious about what you’re doing. Maybe they caught an interesting glimmer of light bounce off your glasses or are wondering why you’re standing on a chair to remove cobwebs in the corner.

5. Health Issues

It can be strange to find your cat staring at you, but most of the time, it’s completely normal behavior. That said, there are rare cases when staring can be a result of a health issue, such as vision loss, feline hyperesthesia syndrome, or something more severe.

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome can also make cats stare at walls for a long time and act oddly. It might not be harmful, but you should get a proper diagnosis and management plan from a veterinarian. A vet will also help you rule out vision loss and other health problems.

cat waking up his owner
Image By: Kasefoto, Shutterstock

6. Hunger

Sometimes, you don’t need to look at your cat to know when they’re staring at you. There’s just something about their steady gaze that makes the back of your neck tickle. Or perhaps it’s the “I’m hungry!” vibes that your cat sends while they’re staring at the back of your head.

If it’s getting close to dinner time and your attention is still firmly on something else, your cat might resort to staring at you disapprovingly to remind you that it’s time for food. Some cats will accompany their staring with pointed meows, while quieter felines might rely on their eyes to do all the talking.

7. Hunting

As predators, cats instinctively want to hunt. Whether they’re strays or house cats, they’ll practice their hunting skills and even use these to find food—or bring you back a few surprises. They rely heavily on their senses when they’re hunting, and their eyesight is one of their strongest assets.

A cat’s eyes are extremely sensitive to movement, even objects that are moving faster than our own eyes can follow properly. Your cat could be staring at you because they’ve spotted a fly buzzing somewhere close by, or maybe they saw the glimmer of a dust particle. If you have a cat that loves pouncing on you to practice their hunting skills, their staring could also be a precursor to playtime.

cat hunting outdoors
Image By: katya-guseva0, Pixabay

8. Learned Behavior

Staring could be something that you’ve taught your cat, intentionally or otherwise. Like most pets, cats are always figuring out the best methods to get what they want from you. If they get a treat or a scratch behind the ears every time you catch them staring at you, they’ll quickly learn that staring is rewarded with attention or food.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you do have to be careful not to encourage the behavior too much. Your cat will quite happily stare at you all day as long as they’re supplied with treats. This can be detrimental to a balanced diet and their weight.

9. Recognition

Most cats recognize people by smell and by listening. Your cat will learn your scent and mark you with their own so they know that it’s you, and they’ll also come running at the sound of your voice if they haven’t seen you for a while.

Although cats rely on their sight less than their nose and ears, this doesn’t mean they won’t stare at you sometimes. You might have put on a new perfume that they’re trying to figure out, or they could be listening to your voice as you talk on the phone. Their staring shows that they’re focused on you.

cat owner looking at her pet
Image By: U__Photo, Shutterstock


How to Determine Why Your Cat Is Staring at You

With so many reasons that your cat might be staring at you, it’s difficult to determine the true one. However, you can work out whether the behavior is concerning or not by looking at your cat’s body language.

When your cat stares at you, pay close attention to whether they’re relaxed or tense. A relaxed cat will be more likely to demonstrate slow blinking and be happy to accept your attention. Conversely, a worried cat will be visibly tense and likely be flicking their tail in agitation. If they’re scared, they’ll also be more prone to lashing out with their claws if you get too close.

Should You Stare Back at Your Cat?

Whether you should stare back at your cat when you catch them watching you is decided by their body language. Keep in mind your cat’s instincts and their likely responses to body language that might be seen as a threat, even if you don’t intend it that way.

For example, if your cat is scared when they’re staring at you, staring back will likely worry them further. They might be predators themselves, but many animals also prey on them, such as cougars, coyotes, and even domesticated dogs.

Cats know this, so they’ll quickly pick up on body language that might be threatening. Staring back at them, especially if they’re already unnerved, might be seen as something that a hunter would do.

That said, your cat will sometimes stare at you simply because they want your attention. In this case, they’ll be completely relaxed. You can try staring back in this case; just make sure to keep your eyes gentle, and maybe throw in a few slow blinks to return their “kitty kisses.”



Although we might find it odd to stare at somebody or be stared at ourselves, it’s completely normal behavior for cats. They’ll spend ages staring at a wall, each other, or even you. Hopefully, knowing the reasons that cats stare can make it less uncomfortable for you. Whether your cat is staring because they love you or want something to eat, we hope that this guide helps you figure out what your cat is trying to tell you.

Featured Image Credit: Amerigo_images, Shutterstock

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