Why Does My Cat Stare at Me? What This Behavior Means

No, your cat probably doesn't want to murder you. If they're staring at you, they could be trying to tell you one of these five things.

Published January 26, 2023
Cat between owner's feet looking up

When your cat stares at you, it can feel like they're peering straight into your soul. Whether you find it creepy or endearing, that unwavering stare is something all cat owners must deal with. But why exactly does your cat stare at you? No, they're not plotting to kill you. It's more likely they want something from you, like food or space, or maybe they're just curious about what you're doing. A cat's body language can give you more insight into why they might stare at you.

Why Is My Cat Staring at Me?

Every time your cat stares at you, there's an intention behind it. Cats use gazes and stares as forms of non-verbal communication. You can decipher what they're trying to tell you by looking at their body language while they're staring.

They're Curious

Often, cats will simply stare at you out of curiosity. They might wonder what you're doing or where you're going. A relaxed posture usually accompanies a curious stare. For example, your cat might be comfortably draped over a chair and watching you move around the room. They'll have alert eyes, upright ears, and a relaxed or comfortable body position, such as seated, sprawled out, or in a loaf.

They're Frightened

If a cat is frightened, their stare might be a cry for help. Cats are sensitive to their environments, so any new people, pets, noises, or odors can be a source of stress. A frightened cat will stare at you with very wide, unblinking eyes and dilated pupils. They may also pull their ears back, stay low to the ground, or hide.

They Want Something

Many cats vocalize when they want something, but it's not uncommon for them to just give you the stare-down. Your cat may be staring at you because they're seeking attention, or they want you to move whatever is in your lap so they can sit there.

An expectant body posture might involve a twitching tail and a mid-pitched meow. First, make sure all your cat's basic needs are met. Check their food, water, and litter box. If that doesn't stop the staring, give them some companionship, then see if the staring resolves. If not, there might be something else they're trying to tell you.

Cat looking at woman while she's working

They're Angry

An angry cat's stare is far from the look Grumpy Cat gives. They can look downright ferocious. If your cat is staring at you with narrow eyes, there's a chance they might be upset.

Angry cats also have a tense body posture with an arched back, puffy tail, and their ears pinned back. They might hiss or growl. Staring can be associated with aggression in cats, so it's never wise to stare a cat down if they're showing angry or aggressive body language. Instead, look away and back up to de-escalate the situation.

They're Content

Sometimes a cat's stare might mean they're happy. If your cat looks at you through soft, half-open eyes or is staring while blinking, it's a sign they're incredibly happy. Cats only close their eyes when they feel safe, so slow blinking means they trust you. Other signs of a happy cat include a relaxed body position, ears turned out slightly, sitting in a cat loaf, or rolling on their back.

Why Cats Stare Without Blinking

Does it feel like your cat stares at you without blinking? Well, they probably are. Cats don't blink very often, at least not the way humans do.

Because cats are both predators and prey, their eyes evolved to allow them to stay alert whenever possible. Both lower and upper eyelids move when a cat blinks, though they don't completely shut. Instead, the third eyelid quickly sweeps across the eye. This is why it appears as though cats could win any staring contest they enter.

Should I Stare Back at My Cat?

If your cat doesn't show any aggression toward you, it's fine to stare back. But it might be better to respond to your cat with a few slow blinks. Researchers confirm slow blinks may translate to "I love you" in cat. This gesture can show your cat that you trust them, and if the feeling is mutual, they might respond with the same slow blink.

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Why Does My Cat Stare at Me? What This Behavior Means