Julia Ogden

Written by Julia Ogden

Updated: May 23, 2024

Why does my cat stare at me?

Updated: May 23, 2024

There are lots of reasons why a cat might stare and this depends on the wider context. More often than not, your pet’s body language will reveal the motivation behind their rapt attention.

Can’t keep my eyes off you…

Of course, there will be moments during a cat parent’s life in which they can hardly bear to look away from their adorable cat, perhaps when they’re curled up in a cute ball on the sofa or they’re racing around the garden without a care in the world.

There are other times, however, when this dynamic is reversed and you feel like you’re being constantly watched by your feline friend. Sure, it’s flattering, but what’s driving the behavior?

What does staring mean?

  • Sometimes, they’re simply curious as to what you’re doing, even if you think your Zoom meeting could be of no possible interest to anybody else. The giveaways here are a relaxed tail, soft ears and a leisurely demeanor.
  • It’s also worth bearing in mind their eyesight and hearing are quite a lot better than ours and perhaps they’re concentrating quite intensely on something you’re not even aware of — your cat’s predatory instincts can be set off by even the tiniest of insects and they’ll monitor it as closely as if their life depends on it.
  • Similarly, there will be occasions when you’re sitting close together and your cat will look into your eyes and slowly blink. Normally, cats use extended eye contact as a form of aggression — ever seen two cats freeze and lock eyes across the street? However, the fact they’re willing to let their guard down in front of you and stare straight into your eyes is a sign they feel completely safe with you.
  • Of course, cats are famously cunning creatures and this loving gaze might just be a clever ruse to get you to do something they want, whether that be pouring a few more biscuits in their bowl or getting their favorite toy out for a bit of playtime. They know their big, beautiful eyes are nigh-on impossible to resist, but a few choice meows should also get the message across as well.
  • Cats are predators by nature, and their intense staring can be related to their hunting instincts. When they fixate their gaze on something, they might be evaluating it as potential prey or preparing to pounce.
  • Cats often stare at their human companions as a means of bonding or seeking attention. They may be trying to establish a connection or convey their desire for interaction or affection.

When do I need to be concerned?

As already mentioned, staring can be a sign of agitation, especially if their body’s tensed, fur puffed up and tail swishing furiously from side to side. If this is the case, it’s best not to look straight back into their eyes or they might take it as a challenge. Just give them a bit of space to calm down or a treat if they seem a little fearful.

If your cat is getting on in life, staring might be a symptom of a medical problem, especially if it’s a habit you’ve never noticed before. Sadly, it can be an early indication of sight loss in senior cats, or even neurological conditions, such as feline dementia or feline hyperesthesia syndrome. If you spot your cat looking at walls or a little absentmindedly into space, it can do no harm to take them to a vet for closer inspection.

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Vet with cat