Body language can be hard to understand sometimes, especially when that body language comes attached to four legs and a tail. If you’ve noticed your cat staring at you, your friends, or even other cats, you may be wondering what exactly all this direct eye contact means. Are they thinking, plotting, or just trying to freak you out? As it turns out, it could be a little bit of each…
It Could Be A Health Problem
Before you panic, just be aware that 9 times out of 10, staring is unrelated to your cat’s health. Very occasionally, however, it can be related to a health condition such as kidney disease, heart failure, and hyperthyroidism. As Cuteness notes, diseases such as this can result in hypertension if left untreated, a condition that can lead to that disconcerting, fixed glaze. If your cat seems to be staring without focusing or has dilated pupils, it may be worth getting a vet to check them over to be on the safe side. If you’ve noticed your senior cat has frequently started staring into the distance without focusing, it could potentially be a sign of feline dementia. According to Senior Cat Wellness, 28% of cats between 11 and 14 are likely to have at least one behavior relating to age- a percentage that increases to 50% in domesticated cats aged 15 years plus. Advancements in the treatment of age-related cognitive problems are developing all the time; rather than accept their decline as inevitable, get them to a vet as soon as possible.
They’re Looking for Love
Cats may seem more independent than dogs but don’t mistake their independence for solitariness. Cats need plenty of love and affection, and if you’re not giving them what they need, be sure they’ll let you know, whether that’s by jumping on your chest, rubbing against your legs, or leaping onto your lap and engaging you in some deep, soulful eye contact.
Cats may spend the majority of their day in the land of nod, but in the few hours they’re awake, it’s important to keep them properly entertained. Although there’s plenty of toys out there like automatic lasers and puzzles that promise lots of feline fun, your cat will sometime want you to join in the games – in which case, they’ll try various methods to draw you in, staring being just one of them. Unless you want your cat to start finding their fun at the expense of your furniture (word to the wise – never underestimate the damage a bored cat can do), try to find at least 15 minutes or so in your day to play with them. Games needn’t be expensive- simply throwing a ball of foil around can keep them happy for hours, and costs just cents to boot.
They’re Studying You
Creepy though it may sound, your cat is studying you at all times, picking up on your behaviors and modifying theirs accordingly. If you usually feed your cat straight away on rising, don’t be surprised if you wake up to find them giving you some serious eyes from the bottom of the bed. Chances are they associate you getting out of bed with some tasty treats, and are simply waiting for the fun to start.
They’re Obeying the Call of The Wild
Your cat might look domesticated, but even the tamest of feline is still subject to the call of the wild. Unless your house has a serious pest problem, it’s likely your cat will satisfy their hunting needs by reimagining their toys as prey- or even, for want of anything better, you. Once they’ve got their prey in their sights, their pupils will narrow, their tail will stiffen, and their gaze will fasten firmly on their prize.
Cats show hunger in different ways. A more vocal feline will let you know in no uncertain terms it’s dinner time, either by meowing loudly, scratching at the food cupboard, or sniffing around the area next to their food bowl. Others prefer the more subtle approach, drawing your attention to their rumbling tums by dilating their pupils and giving you doe eyes.
If you’ve noticed your cat tends to do most of their staring when visitors come into the equation, you’re likely dealing with a little worrier. Some cats can get anxious around new faces, reflecting their fears with pricked ears, a twitching tail, and a fixed gaze. The best thing to do in these situations is to keep as calm and relaxed as possible. Cats tend to pick up on your prompts and cues, and even on those of other animals around them: stay calm, and it’s likely your cat will relax enough to kick the stares to the curb in no time.
They’re Preparing for a Fight
If you’ve two cats in the house, there’s always going to be times when they’re the best of friends, and times when they’re the worst of enemies. If you notice your cats facing each other down, get ready for serious action (especially if the starring is accompanied by growling, hissing, or a straight tail). Put out the flames by distracting their attention: a loud clap will sometimes do, but you may occasionally need to remove one of them to another room and wait for the tension to pass.
If you’re introducing a new cat into the family home, lessen any initial aggravation by putting a little effort and time into familiarizing them with your other pets. Introduce them to each other gradually- plonking them both down in the same room and expecting them to be fast friends in minutes is putting yourself on the fast track to disappointment. Some excellent ways to nurture the friendship include sharing scents between the cats (switching up their blankets and toys, for example), and feeding them on opposite sides of the door, gradually moving the food bowls further and further up towards the entrance until they’re eating together.