Cats are pretty adept at entertaining themselves, and one of their favorite independent activities is staring. They gaze ahead for a variety of reasons, including stalking, begging, and just plain zoning out.
Each of my three cats stare with different intentions. Cosmo is a lap begger, Phoebe is a fierce huntress, and Saffy looks off in such a way that I imagine a giant empty thought bubble hanging above her head. I don’t want to insinuate that her brain is empty, I just think she might be meditating … or something.
Here are five things cats find fascinating enough to stare at for extended periods of time:
Some cats are intently focused with what we put in our mouths, even if it’s something you couldn’t pay them to eat. Plus, cats have a natural sense of entitlement — they think everything we do must be for them, so why shouldn’t they expect a bite?
My Saffy will sit on the kitchen bar stool and watch me prepare meals, her focus following my every move. She’s also my counter cruiser, so I really have to keep an eye on her. Sometimes her stare turns into a swipe.
When my cats are staring at the floor or wall, it’s usually because they’re obsessed with an insect. I think Phoebe must hold some sort of record for her staring stamina in watching bugs in light fixtures. Unlike Saffy, she typically stays off the furniture. I always know when she’s got her eye on a moth when she’s standing on the kitchen table looking up at the hanging fixture. That girl will not break her gaze.
If the bug is within reach, sometimes they’ll swat at it, urging it to move — hey, cats like a challenge! And then there are insects that have no problem creating a buzz. Flies drive my cats absolutely bonkers, especially ones on the window and door screens. They’re still for several seconds and then they take off and land again, inches from where they previously stood. Then they do it all over again. A fly is like having endless quarters at an arcade. (Is it still a quarter to play a game of Ms. Pac Man? I’m dating myself.)
The above photo is of Cosmo. As I type this, he’s staring at me from the floor, looking exactly as he does in the pic. He wants to jump in my lap — or rather, he wants me to lean over, pick him up, and place him in my lap. And I will in just a moment, but I have to first drape my legs with tissues or towels. You see, he’s a drooler, and if I don’t provide an appropriately absorbent covering, I’ll wind up looking like I’ve had a pee-pee accident. TMI? Okay, moving on.
The point is, he constantly stares at me, willing me to pick him up. I’m not even exaggerating. If I could carry him in one of those Baby Bjorn carriers, he’d be on cloud nine. I love that cat.
This orange kitty is demonstrating a completely different sort of staring. This is the opposite of what Cosmo does — he looks like he wants to be released from a cuddle. Immediately, if not sooner. Do you recognize this face? It’s best to follow his nonverbal instructions, lest we move on to level two of “put me the bleep down,” which generally includes fangs and/or claws.
Kitties find us endlessly fascinating and crave our attention, but they also use stare tactics to tell us what they don’t want.
4. Birds and rodents
Birdies! Squirrels! Chipmunks! Rabbits! The outside world is just bursting at the seams with wildlife aplenty, and cats spend massive amounts of time focusing their attention out the window at the local small animal scenery. And then there’s the kitty chirping that happens when a cat is excited by our avian friends. The look on a chirping cat’s face is nearly as funny as the actual sound coming from his mouth. You’re hearing it in your head right now, aren’t you?
The above photo of the cat and squirrel makes kitty look a little stalkerish, but he’s obviously transfixed by the bushy-tailed fellow enjoying some seeds on the balcony. He wishes for invisible windows.
Cats look so peaceful when they’re staring straight ahead, seemingly fixed on absolutely nothing. What are they thinking about? I have no idea.
Sometimes at night, Cosmo will sit beside me on the arm of the sofa, his nose maybe an inch from the wall. And he stares at the wall for an hour or so. I’m serious — his eyes are open and he’s looking straight ahead … at a wall. I think it’s absolutely hysterical. Other times, felines appear to be gazing right into the air. If you were to follow their gaze, you’d see nothing. Maybe they’re thinking about bugs.
What does your cat find fascinating? Tell us about it in the comments!
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