Facts about the animal kingdom

Why is My Cat Staring at Me?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 24, 2019
Why is My Cat Staring at Me?

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A cat's look is one of its finest features. It is not only due to the beautiful range of color in their irises, but their big imploring eyes can provide expressions which seem to convey so much. As humans and cats don't speak the same language, cats can't explain what it is through their voice. Instead, it is up to us to interpret what they might mean when they stare at us for a long time.

It is this expressiveness which has lead to many myths and superstitions surrounding the feline gaze. There are those who believe cats can perceive supernatural presences or are able to look into one's soul. While cat's are often more perceptive than we give them credit for, the answer to why is my cat staring at me is often more commonplace. AnimalWised explains the reasons behind these looks to help us better understand our feline friends.

You may also be interested in: Why Is My Cat Staring at Nothing?
  1. The feline gaze
  2. Feline body language
  3. My cat stares at me and meows
  4. My cat stares at me for a long time
  5. My cat stares at me intensely
  6. My cat stares at me when I sleep

The feline gaze

A cat's large eyes are not just so they can better see what is around them. They are also expressive tools used to communicate. Cats rarely meow to other cats, but it is common for them to do it to humans. This implies that they are trying to communicate with us also. When a cat looks at us, we can become hypnotized as you look into their eyes. When different amounts of light hit a cat's eyes, they open wider or narrow depending on the brightness. These looks can be just as intriguing to humans, especially when the rest of their body language is also implying something.

If you have had a cat for a while, then you will probably already know a little about their behavior. You will have learned to read how their expressions correlate to their body language. Registering these looks and positions help us to know if they are angry, comfortable, pensive or any number of emotions they may be feeling. Once we understand these signals, we are in a better position to meet their needs or see if we need to change something about how we care for them.

Why is My Cat Staring at Me? - The feline gaze

Feline body language

Contrary to what many believe, a cat's body language is actually fairly obvious. You just need to pay attention and know the signs to look out for. Observing their ears, tail and eyes will also help us to know how they are feeling. A cat with bristled hair is upset and likely to soon attack. This may be due to feeling threatened or is angry for some reason or another. On the contrary, if the cat's ears and tail are raised, they may just be happy and animated.

When a cat's eyes widen and their ears are raised, this indicates a mood of happiness and curiosity. If they look at you with narrow eyes and are in a relaxed state, it means they feel calm with you. These are all broad interpretations of course. It will take a combination of knowing what to look for and spending time with a cat to understand its individual looks. Now that you know the basics of feline communication, we can understand why a cat is looking at you in different situations.

My cat stares at me and meows

We need to be aware of all methods of feline communication to best understand why they stare at us. The shape of their eyes and their body language is part of it, but so too is their vocalization. There are several reasons why a cat stares at you and meows, one of the most common being hunger. Each cat may ask for food in their own way. Some may stand silently by their plate, others follow you around the house and some may simply stare at you and meow. All the time you don't give them food is time they think you don't get the message: ‘I'm hungry’. If your cat does this, it may be time to check to see if their food bowl needs filled.

Another reason a cat may meow while staring at you is due to pain or discomfort. They want you to pay attention because they don't want to feel such pain. Some cats hide and avoid company when they are sick. This is usually because they feel threatened in their vulnerable state and want to protect themselves. Others, especially those which have confidence in their owners, may try to communicate to a human. If they trust you, your cat will know you will want to care for and protect them.

Why is My Cat Staring at Me? - My cat stares at me and meows

My cat stares at me for a long time

A cat's imploring looks are not just brought out for a desire of food. It could be anything they need or crave. If you have been ignoring them, they may need you for physical or mental stimulation, usually in the form of playing. They may simply want some company or there is something bothering them. If they are a house cat, but are able to see outside, they may have a desire to leave the house. Staring at you might be a way they try to convey this desire.

If there is something stressing or upsetting them, they may also stare at you for a long time. This stress could be a change of home, a new family member in the home or even a change of cat food. In particularly sad cases, when you have two or more cats living together and one passes away, the other might stare at you because they miss their friend.

My cat stares at me intensely

When a cat feels threatened, by a person or another cat, it will usually take one of two attitudes. If it steps aside and starts to lick itself. This implies they are not looking for a conflict. If they are preparing for a possible fight, then they may stare at their attacker. They may even emit hisses or wails as warning signs not to get close.

The sounds a defensive cat will make are very different to those made by a cat wanting food or company. The tone is much more acute and denotes violence. If this happens, it is best to move away from the cat's field of vision. Alternatively, you can blink several times and move your head slowly from side to side. This gestures communicates that you pose no threat and have no intention of hurting them. However, if they are in a threatened state, it might be difficult to convince them.

Why is My Cat Staring at Me? - My cat stares at me intensely

My cat stares at me when I sleep

Cats are curious and alert animals, so almost any change in an environment can catch their attention. This is often why they will follow you around the house as they become interested in what it is you are doing. Cooking, doing your homework and even sleeping can be mysteries to your cat. These mysteries become fascinations and staring at you is a way to indulge them.

Also, if your cat joins you at bedtime or naptime, they may stare at you in a particular way. This is usually to blink lazily at you. If this happens, then congratulations are in order. Your cat trusts you and feels comfortable enough to allow themselves to be vulnerable near you.

This gesture is common when they snuggle in to sleep with you or whenever you are bestowing caresses and affection upon them. The cat wants you to know that they feel relaxed as they will only allow this to happen with those they most feel at ease. In simple terms, your cat loves you!

If you want to read similar articles to Why is My Cat Staring at Me?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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For the past one year, I had three cats until one of them recently gave birth to four little kittens. They are like one month old now and just started walking around here and there. The other two male cats would just constantly stare at the little ones while the latter fooled around the house and then out of the blue, the older cats would just pound on the poor things and clawed them. Either, I would shoo the bigger cats or the mother would protect the kitties. I often wonder if the male cats are asserting their dominance or if they are trying to enunciate something else through their body language.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the staring saga does not end here. The male cats would always do those cheeky staring contests with me. Sometimes, when the staring takes a creepy-like turn, I will just stare at them until they feel uncomfortable and walked away. Their behaviours do trigger me a lot. On top of that, they don’t even enjoy caresses- literally nobody is allowed to pet them. I usually ponder over their weird attitudes. Is the supposedly anti-social nature of cats responsible for that kind of behaviours?
I love when my cat stares at me! He just knows I need the attention
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Why is My Cat Staring at Me?