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What does it mean when cats stare at you?

Cat staring advice

Cats stare at you to show their affection, or to let you know they are hungry

© Pixabay

Cats are cute. We all know that. But let's face it, they can also be a bit weird. But whether they're head bumping, kneading, or suddenly pooping outside the litter box, there's nothing weirder than when cats stare at you.

By Ashley Murphy

Published on the 27/09/2020, 14:00

So why do they do it? Are they trying to tell us something important? Do they want another tasty treat? Or are they just trying to creep us out? According to feline experts, there are several reasons why cats stare at you, and knowing why (and how to react) can help us better understand our furry friends. 

So here's a (friendly) look at why cats stare at you.

Why does my cat stare at me creepy? 

Humans are not used to being stared out. It makes us feel uncomfortable and can even be a sign of aggression; this is why it feels weird when our cats start giving us the eyeball. However, rather than trying to creep you out, a staring kitty is trying to do something very different. In fact, prolonged eye contact can actually be a sign of affection. 

And if your kitty throws in a few slow blinks, then you know they've really got a thing for you. Animal behaviourists call this cat behaviour "eye kisses." This is a cat's way of saying I love you.

Why does my cat stare at me without blinking? 

There could be several other reasons why your cat is staring at you without blinking. They might be telling you they're hungry, demanding some attention, or alerting you to danger. Understanding a cat's body language can give us some more clues.

Find out more about your cat's body language

If the cat appears loose and relaxed, then it's safe to assume they want a snuggle or a bit of attention. If they're sat upright next to the front door as they stare, then you don't have to be cat whisperer to figure out what's going on - they want to go out on a adventure. The same goes for a cat sitting next to their food bowl. We all know what they want!

And you've probably noticed your cat lingering around the treat cupboard while they give you a hard stare. But be careful! Cats are smart. If you give into those kitty's 'demands' too many times, they'll have you wrapped around their paw in no time.

Staring can also be a sign of distress or aggression. So keep an eye out for other signs of anxiety, including dilated pupils, a swishing tail, or folded-back ears. If this happens, it's best to give your cat some space. Don't try and coax them out of their bad mood. You might end up antagonising them even further.

Should I stare back at my cat?

If your cat appears distressed, don't stare back at it. Rival cats will often try to out-stare each other. If neither kitty breaks the stare, then it usually leads to a cat-fight. So if you try and win a staring contest against your cat - even as harmless fun - there's a strong possibility you'll make them feel tense, nervous, or even afraid. And depending on how brave the cat is, they might try and 'take you on.' And that could leave you with a few painful scratches.

Cats are naturally attuned to non-verbal communication like eye contact. So a few subtle movements can make all the difference in how they interpret your intentions. Pet experts often encourage owners to slowly blink or wink when looking directly at their cats. This mimics the 'eye kisses' mentioned earlier, which makes your cat feel safe and loved.

Why do stray cats stare at you? 

Cats are curious creatures. Cats are also visual hunters, which means they're always keeping an eye on their surroundings. This explains why stray cats often stare at you. In most cases, they're trying to figure out if you pose a threat. It's always tempting to pet a cat in the street. But most strays are not used to close contact with humans. The best thing you can do is leave them alone. The ones who want a stroke will come and ask for it!

Why do cats stare at you when you sleep? 

Some cats like to stare at their humans as they sleep. And although it might seem a bit weird, most feline behaviourists think it's a strong bonding sign. We're vulnerable when we sleep. Cats watching over us is their way of making sure we stay safe.

Most of the time, staring at people is just another example of our cat's quirky behaviour. It's perfectly normal. In fact, it's usually a good sign. It means your cat is trying to communicate their loving feelings toward you. So take it as a compliment and don't get to creeped out - even if they start watching over you as you sleep!

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