We all know what it’s like to be watched by our cats. In fact, many of us have probably debated whether they’re trying to take over the world, one person at a time – starting with us. It’s as if they watch our every move, stare into our eyes for what seems like forever, and are always observing. But why do our cats stare at us? What’s really going on behind those curious eyes?
There are a few theories. First, many think it’s all in our heads. Our cats are hunters and their eyes have developed to assist them with this task. They blink very little compared to us humans, so we often interpret their natural behavior as staring. Generally speaking, our cats don’t realize that they’re staring – they’re just looking the way they naturally look at things. We’re the ones who think we’re being stared out. Considering our cats watch everything we do, we might have a guilty conscience! (Just kidding.)
That said, there are times cats actually do stare. Cats will stare at each other in an act of rivalry. This is often seen when two unfamiliar cats come across the same territory, such as a new cat being introduced to a household with older felines. The staring is the beginning of the social dominance battle and often ends there as one cat out-stares the other, although this can escalate into a fight if not addressed.
However, cats typically don’t stare at humans in an aggressive, territorial manner (although many who have come across an angry cat will attest that they most certainly do if they feel threatened). Cats watch people in a different way and most agree that it’s a sign of love and affection, not aggression. Cats use non-verbal body language naturally, so their stares could mean many different things. They might be trying to tell us they’re hungry, thirsty or bored. Some think that cats watch their owners out of curiosity – to see what their humans do for entertainment.
But staring into our eyes comes with a different feel than just being watched. When our cats stare into our eyes, often with a slow blink, we can be sure that they’re just letting us know they feel safe and comfortable. When a cat blinks slowly while staring, they’re signaling to us that they do not see us as a threat – which means they see us as a friend or loved one. A soft gaze is a sign that your cat is relaxed. He or she has watched you and knows where you are, what you are doing, and is making you aware that they are perfectly happy and content. So the next time your cat appears to be getting a little creepy, consider that he or she is really just trying to let you they care. They’re just doing so in that odd, cat-like way we know so well!