BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

Why Does My Cat Stare At Me: What Hides Behind the Mysterious Gaze

orange cat is staring at someone
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Every cat owner knows this—the cat is always watching you. Always. Now, this might seem like an introduction for a horror movie, but after a while, you grow accustomed to the ever-present gaze and learn to live with it. Even so, the question is an interesting one to find an answer to—why does my cat stare at me so intensely?

You lift your eyes from the tablet, and you notice your cat staring unblinking at you. Combine this with the feline ability to be in multiple places at the same time, and you have a perfect stalker in your household. Not to mention those heart-stopping eyes flashing in the darkness. You have nature’s unmatched predator in the house; what did you expect?

This article will help explain the cat logic behind this eerie behavior, and try to persuade you that there is no reason to feel uneasy. Firstly, we will give you a few examples of everyday situations which might lead to your cat staring at you so intensely, and then we will shed some light on the famous night stares. Lastly, we will tell you about those ominous stares when your cat doesn’t even blink.

6 Reasons Cats Stare At You

Cats are curious creatures. They have an innate need to understand the world around them. Being visual predators, cats rely heavily on their sight to gain information and process their surroundings. But their eyesight is very different from our own, which is why it sometimes feels like there is something very ominous behind those beautiful kitty eyes.

No one ever told them that staring is rude, so your unease with the firm feline gaze is entirely on you. Many people who don’t own cats will feel very uncomfortable when meeting this unyielding gawk for the first time; they might even ask you to remove the cat from the room. Of course, you should do no such thing.

Many cats even go as far as following their beloved human to the one sanctuary a small household can provide—the bathroom. This is very natural, because, if you think about it, everything we do there is completely shocking to a feline. Not to mention all the weird smells and sounds! Keep reading, and we will explain everything.

The iron stare in various situations explained:

#1: The Instincts of a Predator

cats watching from above

No matter how cushiony your home might be, cats are still cats—fierce predators that were never fully domesticated. This means that they have a very strong need to watch their surroundings and keep the feeling of being aware of everything that is happening around them.

One of the most important things about the feline eyesight is that it is exceptionally good at spotting movement. Now, think about this for a second. If you are living in an apartment, keeping your cat as an indoor pet, what is the only thing that constantly keeps moving around? You, obviously.

Your commotion is endlessly amusing to your cat, and since she doesn’t have other choices in picking her target, she is going to observe her beloved human.

#2: Deciphering the Human Language

By this, we don’t mean the language coming out in the form of words, but rather, the language “spoken” with our bodies. Cats use body language to communicate among the members of their own species much more than the vocal expression. Every mood, situation, and emergency has its own code, and every cat is pretty “fluent” in this.

However, humans mostly rely on the spoken language and often forget how much significance postures and gestures actually have. We use them too, but it seems like this form of communication has been pushed back to a more subconscious level.

And this is what your cat is desperately trying to figure out; what does all that hand waving, erratic head turning, and all the other human gibberish mean?

We don’t have tails to signal our mood or emotional states. We walk on two legs so things like arching our backs and stretching never happen. Our pupils are shaped completely differently.

This is why cats, nature’s chaotic little scientists, spend hours trying to decipher our nonverbal signals and find accurate correlations. Just as you would, if you were stuck in another world speaking a foreign language.

#3: Humans are Weird

weird cat

Many things we do are very strange from the cat perspective. Take into consideration that they never see you hunt, groom yourself, sharpen your claws, or do other feline things. You use loud stuff to do obscure scary things like clean the house or heat up food. You put layers of cloth on your hairless skin every day and disappear for hours.

The most despicable thing for every cat, though, are the actions we take in the bathroom. Just imagine the shock when your cat sees you washing your hair for the first time. Crazy human is soaking the little fur he/she has, and on purpose! All of these are followed by smells that are usually very unpleasant to cats, like shampoo fragrances and the smell of mint in the toothpaste.

These things are not just weird, but completely opposite to everything a cat thinks is right. For all we know, she might be supervising your bathroom time because she is worried.

#4: You are the Food Bringer

Although your hunting skills are obviously non-existent, you manage to bring food to the table every single day. Even if your cat has a perfectly set internal clock that never misses food time, she might feel a bit peckish in between the strictly set meal schedule. And this is where the staring comes in.

If she is sitting beside her bowl and giving you that wide-eyed, endearing look, you know what it is all about. Translated into human, she is being polite and saying: “Mom, how about one more breakfast?”

See Also: What Human Food Can Cats Eat

#5: She is Trying to Get Your Attention

cat trying to draw attention

Maybe she is trying to tell you something, but you are not paying attention to her. In the feline world, a fixed gaze is always returned in the same manner—whether it’s a sign of aggression or just an invitation to read some other signals.

She might be waiting for you to meet her eye for long enough so she can show you something. Maybe she is hungry? Most probably. Maybe her toy got stuck behind the couch, and she needs you to take it out. It might be that she wants you to play with her, too. Or she wants to explore a closed room, and she needs someone with opposable thumbs to open the door.

So whenever she is giving you “that” look, look back at her for a couple of seconds and ask if there is anything she needs.

#6: She Likes You!

Yup, she does. Giving you a prolonged stare might be a sign that she needs reassurance. Maybe something stressful happened, or she just feels insecure.

Remember, cats are control freaks and even the smallest changes in the household might be seen as suspicious. Having guests, bringing a new pet into the household, or even small things like rearranging living room furniture might be a bit stressful for your cat.

If you think this is the case, make sure to give her a slow blink (meaning “Everything is fine” in kitty language) and offer snuggles. You are your cat’s whole world; you are the bringer of all those inexplicable changes, and she needs to know that her place in your life is still secure.

See Also: What are Cats Scared Of

Why Does My Cat Stare At Me While I Sleep?

Some cats have this weird habit of staring at their humans…while they are asleep. You wake up (for no obvious reason whatsoever) only to find a shadow with glowing eyes peering into your soul. Needless to say, many jump out of bed screaming.

You ask: Why does my cat stare at me while I sleep? It often feels very sinister, but we can assure you that your cat is not trying to murder you in your sleep. She could easily murder you while you are awake, to be honest. Cats, as always, follow their own logic and have no idea about the human etiquette.

#1: Cats are Nocturnal

cat at night

Most cats adjust to the human circadian rhythm very quickly—usually within the first two months of sharing the living space. But some, especially breeds that are mixed with wildcats, have a tendency to keep being predominantly nocturnal.

This means that they want to do fun stuff during night time, and you are, well, being a bore. She doesn’t understand why you decided to take a nap during the most interesting part of the day, and she is probably checking if you are alright.

If you are suspecting that this is the case, try tiring your cat out during the day, especially right before bedtime. No one likes to be woken up in the middle of the night just to play fetch.

#2: You are Snoring

We are sorry to break this to you, but you might be one heck of a midnight lumberjack. Your cat might be trying to see why her weird and clumsy, but yet endearing human is making sounds from hell, or she might be very displeased with the noise.

In this case, we really can’t reassure you that she is not plotting murder, but we like to think that she is fully aware of your role as the breadwinner, so it is a pity to lose you.

Nevertheless, she might be contemplating a good smack on the nose. Others need to catch some z’s too, you loud, two-legged goof.

#3: It is Time to Get Up

cat trying to wake her owner up

Some cats just won’t let their humans sleep for too long, unfortunately. If your cat is the gentle type, she might purr loudly while staring at you. If not, you might just wake up to the wide-eyed, fixed stare telling you it is time for breakfast. And no, she doesn’t know it’s 3 AM.

Why Do Cats Stare Without Blinking?

cats watching

The next question is: Why does my cat stare at me without blinking? “Eyeing up” is not uncommon among our own species, if you think about it. A long, firm stare is recognized as an unfriendly gesture in many animals. We are not trying to say that your cat is challenging you to a duel, but she might find something suspicious about you.

In the wild, cats have fairly big territories. If one cat meets another cat in a place where she shouldn’t be, the “argument” usually starts with a long stare. Where the situation goes from there depends on the mood of both the pretender and the owner of the territory.

This kind of wide-eyed, blinkless stare is also a signal to other friendly cats that there is an imminent danger or something suspicious that needs to be checked out by a larger party.

When cats find something that is suspicious they might spend a very long time staring at it and gathering information.

It might be that you changed your perfume, or that something about that new shirt looks weird to your cat. Maybe you made a very odd sound or acted in a peculiar way recently?

Also, consider the option that she is giving you a signal about something strange that is happening. Maybe a dog barked outside of the building? In any case, she is definitely not trying to start a war over territory with you; she just wants to communicate.

Wrap Up

cat with yellow eyes

Cats have always been mysterious. Their way of behaving is very different from those of humans and dogs, who usually have a common body language and much more similar eyes, at least in shape.

Cats, on the other hand, don’t take human feelings into consideration that much and what is considered weird, strange, or even menacing behavior for humans is quite the opposite for cats. The long, strong stare is definitely one of those things, though there is a scientific explanation for it too.

Cats stare at many things with extraordinary intensity, even at walls. This is just how they gather information about things that are unfamiliar, weird, or suspicious. They rely heavily on their eyesight during hunting, and since their eyes are not as good at differentiating hues and still objects as the human eyes, they need a different approach to analyzing their surroundings. This, as you’ve probably concluded by now, requires intense staring at things.

We hope this article helped you understand that there is really no reason to project human norms onto our cat friends. They might be a bit awkward, but there is nothing mean about them.

When does your cat usually stare at you? How long can she keep the gaze going? Do you think it could have other meanings than the ones specified above? Share your thoughts with us by posting a comment below! And check out our article on why do cats stick their tongues out next.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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