Eye Contact With Cats: Everything You Need to Know
When you’re a new cat owner, there is probably a lot that you don’t necessarily understand about your new feline companion. Truth be told, cats can be so complex that even people who have been cat owners for years don’t understand what’s going on with them. One of the things that a lot of cat owners get confused by is the idea of eye contact with your cat. Some experts will tell you that it can strengthen the bond between you and your cat and others will tell you that you’re not supposed to do it in any capacity. When you have so-called experts telling you to do two entirely different things, how exactly are you supposed to know which one is really best? There’s no doubt about it, it can be confusing in the extreme. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place because by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll know the importance of eye contact with your cat in the right circumstances. You’ll also have a better idea of what your cat is trying to tell you when he’s looking at you, not to mention having a better understanding of those times when it’s really best not to stare down your cat at all.
You May Not Be Sending the Right Signals
Have you ever considered the possibility that you may not be sending the right signals to your cat when you are making eye contact with him? The truth is, people have a tendency to consider eye contact as something positive, but that doesn’t mean that your cat necessarily shares that assumption. In fact, the overwhelming majority of cats consider eye contact to be more of a threat than anything else. You might be staring at your cat because you think that he has pretty hair or that you’re incredibly fond of him and glad that he’s your pet. However, your cat is more likely to view the fact that you can’t stop staring as an indication that you want to challenge him for the role of dominance. Obviously, that’s probably not what you’re thinking about but it may be the only thing that your cat is thinking about. Naturally, this is bound to cause some problems. That’s especially true when you have a cat that’s already very dominant or even one that has some behavioral issues. The more threatened he feels, the more likely he is to lash out. Sometimes, his way of lashing out may come in the form of biting and scratching, among other things. Is it really possible that all of these behavioral issues could potentially stem from the fact that you made eye contact with your cat one too many times and now he thinks you’re out to get him? The truth of the matter is that it’s not only possible, but even likely. It’s important to remember that cats are typically quite aloof by their own nature. They don’t always like being the center of attention, nor do they always enjoy cuddles and other things of the like that people might automatically assume they want to experience. In fact, all of your attempts at affection may only be serving to frustrate your cat and make him more wary of you than ever.
Cats Aren’t Always as Confident as You Might Think
Another thing that surprises people about cats is that they’re not always as confident as most people think they are. Perhaps it’s because they don’t often want to cuddle like a dog would or maybe it’s because they are quite adept at taking care of themselves, but they have a tendency to come across as being much more confident than they generally are. As a result, people often think that their cats are these uber-confident beans when in fact they’re actually fairly self-conscious. Making direct eye contact with your cat can make that self-conscious feeling worse. Obviously, this is the last thing that you want to do. There isn’t a pet owner alive that would intentionally do something to make their pet feel uncomfortable. Again, it usually comes back to the pet owner simply admiring their cat. Unfortunately, your cat is probably getting a different message. In all likelihood, you’re actually making him more self-conscious than he’s ever been. When you feel self-conscious about something, it’s probably fair to say that you don’t necessarily want someone else staring at you and making that self-conscious feeling even worse. Chances are, your cat’s not particularly crazy about this feeling either. In short, you can go a long way toward making your cat feel more comfortable by learning how to communicate in a way that’s effective for him, not necessarily for you.
There’s another important thing about eye contact with cats. Within their own social structure, cats have a tendency to resolve conflict through eye contact. If need be, they will fight with each other, but this is typically a last resort. The truth is, most cats will sit and stare each other down in the hopes that one or the other will eventually decide that whatever situation or object caused the conflict is no longer worth it and simply walk away. Since they use eye contact as a means of resolving conflict and even as a threat display, they often become very confused when you, their owner, stares them down incessantly. On top of making them self-conscious, you’re also making them feel like there is some type of conflict that needs to be resolved. This can go one of two ways. Your cat might decide to simply walk away, in which case he’s probably going to try to avoid you at all cost until he feels comfortable enough to be around you again. On the other hand, your cat might be more of the fighting type, in which case you could have a situation where your cat is suddenly coming at you with the intent of biting and scratching. That’s not exactly a pleasant experience, to say the least. The thing is, you probably never realized that by making prolonged eye contact with your cat, you’re essentially telling him that there is something wrong and one of you is either going to have to back down or there will be a fight. However, that is precisely what you’ve been telling him.
What About Blink Kissing?
Have you ever heard the term blink kissing? It refers to looking into your cat’s eyes and then slowly blinking, all in the hopes that he will return the gesture. According to some, it’s a way of telling your cat that you love him. The theory says that if he blinks his eyes slowly in return, he also loves you. In reality, this is a very controversial theory and it’s one that a lot of individuals who specialize in animal behavior don’t put any stock in whatsoever. Again, staring at your cat only serves to make himself conscious and it makes him feel threatened. If you really love him, why would you be doing such things in the first place?
Sometimes Your Cat Stares at You
Inevitably, there are those times when you find your cat staring at you. You might be wondering what it means or if it means anything at all? The truth is, it sort of depends on the situation. There are times when your cat is staring at you because he wants something and he’s trying to get your attention. Think about things like food and water. If your cat has plenty of these things, you may or may not see him for hours at a time. On the other hand, if he’s been sitting in the same room as you and staring you down for the past 45 minutes, it might be because he’s running low on food, water or both. Chances are, he’s trying to tell you that he needs you to replenish those items and the sooner you do it, the better. Unfortunately, that’s not the only time that cats stare at you. You might also find your cat staring at you if he doesn’t feel well. Cats have a reputation for being fiercely independent, but they’re also intelligent. It doesn’t take them long to learn that you are essentially providing them with more than just food and water, but also shelter and care. When they need something, they typically come to you. If your cat is staring at you but he’s also lethargic and he doesn’t have much interest in eating, he might be trying to tell you that he doesn’t feel well and he needs your help.
Sleeping With Both Eyes Open
Surprisingly, cats also have a tendency to sleep with their eyes open, at least part of the way. If your cat just happens to be in the same room as you, you might think that he’s staring at you when in fact he’s just taking a nap. How are you supposed to know if your cat is actually asleep or if he’s awake and trying to get your attention? If he has been sitting in the same spot for some time, then he’s probably asleep. You can rest assured that if your cat wants to get your attention and you are not responding, he’s not likely to stop staring at you and merely hope for the best. If staring proves ineffective, he might do something little more noticeable like jumping up in your lap and pawing at you, or maybe even jumping on top of your head. Either way, he will definitely get your attention if that is his goal.
Does Your Cat See You as a Rival?
If you’ve been keeping up with your reading, you know that staring at your cat makes him feel threatened because in his circle, staring means that there is some type of conflict. What you might not know is that staring at your cat often makes him feel like you are essentially telling him that the two of you are rivals. You might be trying to express all kinds of love to your cat, yet your signals and body language tell him something completely different. That may be why he has a tendency to run out of the room when you come in. Once you learn to start looking away you might be surprised how much your relationship could potentially improve.
Solving an Age-Old Mystery
When you have people over, you’ve probably noticed that your cat almost always goes to the person who seems to be the least interested in having anything to do with him. All the while, he purposely avoids all of the people who would love to pet him. In reality, this is sort of built into a cat because he’s seeing the person who really doesn’t want anything to do with him as the least threatening individual in the room. As such, he naturally gravitates toward that person. All the while, everyone else is staring at him and telling him that they are a threat to him in one way or another. In most cases, that means that he will go out of his way to avoid each and every one of those individuals. Now that you have a better understanding about making eye contact with cats, you can hopefully use this information to further the bond between you and your own feline companion. Remember, the idea is to learn to communicate the way that he communicates, not to try and force your cat to communicate with you the way you want him to. If you really want to create a close relationship with your cat, it’s important to learn about things like eye contact and other body language. Only then can you truly understand what he’s trying to tell you and learn how to respond accordingly.