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Is Your Cat Staring at You? What It Means in Cat Language

Is your cat staring at you? Or, maybe you’ve noticed your cat staring at other cats in your household. What does cat staring mean in cat body language?

Angie Bailey  |  Mar 19th 2018


Cats are total stare-masters. Have you ever tried to win a staring contest with a cat? “Tried” being the operative word — it’s impossible. And have you ever stopped to think about why cats stare? Is there a difference between why cats stare at humans vs. why they stare at other cats? Wonder no more — here’s some insight into cat staring.

Why Do Cats Stare at Other Cats?

Two aggressive cats staring each other down.

Cat staring between two cats is a sign of aggression. Photography ©kimberrywood | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cats are territorial by nature and usually don’t take a liking to a rival cat moving in on their turf. Because cats primarily communicate using body language, a cat staring at another cat is a way for the dominant kitty to show aggression. When a cat notices another cat giving him the eye, they both stop everything they’re doing and visually connect. If this cat staring doesn’t sufficiently meet the dominant one’s objective, then swatting, wrestling and even perhaps an all-out cat fight are next.

Cats are visual hunters and their ability to stare without regular blinking helps them keep a close eye on their prey. Unlike we humans who must frequently blink to keep our eyes lubricated, cats can maintain a steady gaze for quite some time before a blink. This is why it’s impossible to win a staring contest with a feline.

How to Avoid Cat Staring in Your Home

A gray cat staring.

How can you stop cat-on-cat staring? Introduce your cats properly! Photography ©debibishop | E+ / Getty Images.

If you’re adding a new cat into your home, it’s important to take steps to avoid — or at least lessen — the aggression that could come from either kitty. Here are a few steps to take when introducing cats — and cut back on any aggressive cat-staring incidents:

  1. Introduce them gradually. Don’t simply place both cats in the same room together and expect them to become fast friends.
  2. Share scents between the two cats. This can be done by trading blankets or toys so each kitty can get used to the other one’s smell.
  3. Initially confine the new cat in a closed room with his own food, water and litter box.
  4. A good way to slowly introduce the cats is to feed them on either side of the door, with the food bowls moving closer and closer to the door. Soon, they’ll be eating with just a minor barrier between them.
  5. Make sure all initial contact is supervised.

Why Do Cats Stare at Humans?

A golden brown cat, staring, looking up.

Why is your cat staring at you? She might just be hungry! Photography ©Louno_M | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

The cats with whom we share our lives are innately interested in our activities — especially if said activities could result in something that benefits them. We’ve all been on the business end of cat staring when mealtime is near. Our cats impatiently watch our every move, and if we make the slightest move toward the kitchen — even if it’s to pour a cup of coffee — they’re all over us.

Dr. Kathryn Primm says, “Obviously cats are naturally attuned to non-verbal communication. Maybe she is using your appearance to help her choose how she should respond to something, and also sharing with you how she feels about it. Her eyes are reading your cues and her body language may be telling you something, too. She may want to be sure that you are watching her in return because you share a family group bond. Your shared look can reaffirm your bond and assure the social stability of your group. If you are calm, she is calm. If you look on edge, she will be, too.”

Our kitties love us and sometimes look at us with such affection in their eyes. If you notice your cat’s eyes meeting yours, give her the slow blink “I love you,” and enjoy the moments of bonding.

Thumbnail: Photography ©SensorSpot | E+ / Getty Images Plus.

Read more about how to understand your cat on Catster.com: