There are plenty of occasions in life where intense eye contact is the norm, like when you’re interviewing for a new job (eye contact = confidence!) or saying your vows at your wedding. But intense eye contact when the situation doesn’t exactly call for it—otherwise known as staring—is always a little bit strange. It’s true for humans—and it’s true for your cat.
If your feline has a habit of staring at you intently, you might think it’s funny. You might think it’s weird. You might think it’s uncomfortable. But you’re definitely thinking “why is my cat doing this right now?”
So, what’s the deal with all the staring? Why do cats like to stare? And is there any way to know what they’re trying to tell you with all the intense eye contact?
Why is your cat staring at you?
So, first things first—why is your cat staring at you? And the truth is, there’s no definitive answer.
Unfortunately, cats can’t tell us what they’re thinking. So when they display certain behaviors—like staring—there’s no way to 100% know for sure why they’re doing it.
There are, however, a few reasons that could be behind your cat’s staring:
Your cat needs something
As you know, cats can’t directly communicate with humans. So, when they’re hungry, it’s not like they can tap you on the shoulder and say “hey, it’s about that time—dinner in 15?” So, one reason your cat might be staring at you is that they’re trying to tell you something—specifically, that they need something from you.
If you notice your cat has been staring at you for what seems like hours (and is showing no signs of stopping), try to figure out what they might need. Is it almost mealtime? Put some food in their dish. Haven’t cleaned the litter box in a while? Get out your scooper. Has it been a solid chunk of time since you’ve given your cat some love or attention? Bring out the toys and spend some quality one-on-one time with your pet.
It might take a little detective work to figure out what, exactly, it is they need—but if that’s what’s behind your cat’s staring, the intense stares should stop once you give them what they want.
Your cat is curious
Have you ever heard that saying “curious like a cat?” Well, it’s a saying for a reason.
Cats are curious animals. So, one of the reasons behind all the staring? It could just be good, old-fashioned curiosity.
It makes sense. To your cat, you’re the most interesting thing in the world (you’re their pet parent, after all!). So of course they’re going to be curious about what you’re up to—and so the staring could just be a way of satisfying their curiosity and keeping tabs on your comings and goings throughout the day.
Your cat is sleeping
Not all cat staring is created equal—and what you think is your cat staring at you could actually be your cat taking a quick “cat nap.”
Cats sleep a lot—and, interestingly, some cats sleep with their eyes partially (or even completely) open. So what seems like your cat staring might not be staring at all—they might just be squeezing in a few extra minutes of shut-eye (or, in this case, open-eye).
Your cat is injured
It’s super uncommon, but certain health conditions (in particular, high blood pressure) can cause ocular injury—which can take on a stare-like appearance.
If you notice that, in addition to staring, your cat also has dilated pupils, make an appointment with your vet ASAP to get their blood pressure checked.
There are a number of reasons that your cat might be staring at you, whether it’s because they have a want or need that hasn’t been met (that is, let’s be real, probably food-related) or they’re catching up on some sleep (with their eyes open!). But for the most part, cat staring is pretty harmless. If you sense your cat’s staring is because of an injury, get them to the vet—but otherwise, there’s no harm in just letting them stare.