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  • Post published:23/02/2022
  • Post last modified:23/02/2022
Brown tabby cat staring

As much as we love them, it’s no secret that cats are peculiar creatures who display mysterious behaviors that humans don’t always understand. One of these curious feline habits is staring. Cats are masters at staring contests. Your cat can gaze silently into your eyes for what feels like forever without looking away. Whether this seems endearing or creepy, you might wonder what exactly is going on when your cat is staring at you. Is your cat happy when she stares at you or are you worried she’s feeling angry or upset? 

Feline communication is not always easy to understand. Cats vocalize and even hiss to communicate, but they also use body language. Though some cat body language is easy to discern (a lashing tail, arched back, or swiping paw), other feline body language can be as understated as staring without looking away.

Other cats might quickly pick up on the subtleties of a cat’s body language, but humans often need a little help to decipher what a cat might be trying to say.

Here are four reasons your cat might be staring at you.

Curiosity

If you notice your cat is staring at you, and your cat is otherwise calm, it might just be watching you to see what you’re going to do next. Humans are somewhat interesting creatures to cats, and are also the providers of good things, such as food, treats, petting, and playtime. Cats are curious and observant, and are likely paying closer attention to your every move than you might think.

Hunger

This one is easy. As mentioned, you are the giver of all the good things, including food. Some cats meow loudly or rub against your legs to try to let you know the food bowl has gone empty, but other cats subtle. If you notice your cat is staring at you, take a look at the food dish to see if it’s time to serve the next meal.

Love

If you’ve ever woken in bed and opened your eyes only to find a warm, purring cat sitting on your chest, gazing deeply into your eyes, you have been bestowed by some feline affection. If your cat is also slowly opening and closing its eyes while staring at you, she might be purposely trying to tell you how much she loves you.

According to an October 2020 study, cats communicate and bond with humans by using slow blink sequences. Cats seem to use the act of narrowing their eyes seems as a form of positive emotional communication. The next time your cat is staring at you, try slowly blinking back. You might be surprised to see your cat return a blink. Let the lovefest commence.

Fear or Aggression

In the animal kingdom, directing an unwavering stare at another animal is perceived as threatening body language. One cat staring directly at another cat could signal that the cat is agitated, ready to attack, or run away.

Although it’s possible that your cat might stare at you if it were feeling afraid or angry, this is unlikely. But if your cat is staring at you while growling or hissing, or if your cat’s hair is standing up or crouched down low to the ground, ears pinned back and tail lashing back and forth, take heed. Your cat might be feeling afraid or threatened. In this case, don’t touch your cat. Move away and give your cat time to calm down before trying to touch or approach it.

What to Do if Your Cat Is Staring at You

The next time you catch your cat staring deep into your eyes, it never hurts to run down the list and make sure your cat is feeling safe and isn’t hungry. Your cat is probably just communicating its love, but it never hurts to engage your cat in a play session in case it’s feeling bored or lonely. If you notice your cat is staring at walls, rather than staring at you, it never hurts to schedule a visit with your vet. Staring at walls can be one of the early signs of feline dementia or even a rare condition known as feline hyperesthesia syndrome.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73426-0

  2. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/aggression-cats

  3. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/hyperesthesia-syndrome

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