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What Does It Mean When A Cat Stares At You? 5 Cat Staring Meanings

reviewed by a veterinary box

Cats are peculiar and fascinating creatures. Some of their affectionate habits, such as your kitty’s soft purrs, are easy for us to understand however, other behaviors can be more confusing. Like what does it mean when a cat stares at you?

If you’ve caught your cat intently staring, you might have felt like they were trying to communicate. Perhaps you’ve been woken up to your cat eyeballing you while sitting on your chest. Or, you may have felt their gaze boring into your back.

Whether you’re worried about their well-being, curious about your cat’s behavior, or just plain creeped out. You’re not alone in wondering what it means when a cat stares at you. Do these wide-eyed, soul-searing stares mean something specific?

Let’s review what’s known about this topic.

grey scottish fold cat with amber eyes staring


Kitty Communication: What Does it Mean When a Cat Stares at You?

Have you ever felt like you’re being manipulated by your cat? Cats are highly intelligent creatures. They can pick up behaviors that we might not be conscious of.

One study discovered that cats use a “solicitation purr” to manipulate us into feeding them. This purr is more high-pitched. Humans respond to this sound in the same way we react to a crying baby.

cat purring while being stroked

There are many ways that cats verbally communicate. Verbal signs, such as meowing, yowling, purring, and hissing, are how cats express their feelings to us and other cats.

Remember that cats will adapt to their specific environment, which includes you and your behavior. So there are many unique ways your cat may have learned to get your attention. One method may be a soul-piercing stare.

dark ginger maine coon cat stares at camera showing maine coon personality

What Does it Mean When a Cat Stares at You For a Long Time | 5 Reasons

Remember that every feline is unique and full of character. You know your cat best, however here are five possible explanations for why a cat may be eyeballing you.

1. They’re Hungry

If you’ve been wondering, “why does my cat stare at me, ” it could be because they are hungry. This is one of the most likely reasons your cat is staring at you. Many cats are food-oriented creatures. So it’s not usual for your kitty to try and coax some food out of you outside their designated mealtimes.

snowshoe cat 1
snowshoe cat

Other times, your cat might try to remind you that it’s time for food. Meowing and solicitation purring (as mentioned above) are some ways that cats ask for food. You also might find them sitting near their food bowl, staring at you longingly.

2. They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

Often cats look at you when they want attention We all know that cats can be absolute divas – especially those who are “only children.” When their Royal Majesties request your attention, they very well expect it. And promptly at that.

While it may often be related to food, there are other reasons why kitty might want some attention. It could be a sign they are not feeling well, or something is disturbing them.

balinese kitten what does it mean when a cat stares at you

Some cats demand attention with long whining meows, others use cute little kitten purrs. Maybe, in addition to a soft touch of their paws, get you to notice them.

Other times, you’ll happen upon them staring you into submission. This may be their way of saying, “Hey – look here! Bask in my glory!”

3. They’re Showing Affection

Despite many misconceptions that cats are cold and heartless, they can be affectionate to their owners wonderfully. As well as very protective. This is communicated by a cat rubbing against you to mark you as theirs.

ginger cat on woman's lap stares at her face

Even though staring is considered rude in humans, it’s a way for cats to tell you they love you. If you catch your cat staring at you in between soft blinks, this is a probable sign of your cat just taking the time out of its day to adore you.

4. They’re Agitated or Angry

Why do cats stare at you? It could be because they are agitated or even angry. Cats don’t enjoy being ordered around. And there’s nothing worse than being on your cat’s bad side. If you’re forcing a cat to be bathed, groomed, or participate in any other “unauthorized” activity, chances are they won’t forget about it any time soon.

If your cat is staring at you afterward, they’re probably sulking. In this case, staring at you would be their way of communicating that they’re not happy with you.

5. They’re Scared or in Pain

It could be that your cat is in pain. Oftentimes, sick and even terminally ill cats hide away to protect themselves in their vulnerable state. Cats are usually quite private and enjoy having a space of their own.

⇒ If you want to read more about cat behavior changes with illness, check out our article on cat sleeping positions when sick.

Untitled design 7 poster

However, in a few instances, cats may come to you when they’re nervous or experiencing discomfort. If you’re the one in your household who spends the most time with your cat, they may identify you as the human they can trust most and come to you when they’re afraid.

If your cat is staring at you but doesn’t want food or attention, there may be another problem. Check their fur, mouth, and between paws to see if something is causing discomfort.

Norwegian forest cat with green eyes
Norwegian forest cat with green eyes

Is Cat-Staring Aggressive?

One of the many ways cats communicate with each other is through body language. Different body parts can indicate a range of emotions. Staring alone is not enough on its own to signal aggression.

Sometimes, cats stare at each other out of curiosity, simply enjoying a new object of attention. Nonetheless, staring between cats can also be a form of territorial aggression.

Ginger cat staring at self in mirror

If you’ve ever seen a cat-fight unfold, you likely noticed intense and unblinking eye contact before an escalation to your cat growling, hissing, and snarling.

No one enjoys a catfight. And many owners discourage cat-staring between cats to prevent a brawl. However, direct eye-contact is not the only indicator of territorial and aggressive displays.

Reading Your Cats Body Language

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your cats’ staring at you is aggressive or confrontational. When it comes to our quirky kitties, context is key. Keep your eye on the following physical cues, which are often used in cat communication: 

  • Position of the head and ears
  • Tail movements
  • The ridge of hair along their backs
  • General stance
  • Whiskers and pupils

Cats communicate with their entire bodies. Here are some signs that your cat is content.

ginger cat against person wearing jeans in snow

Signs of a Relaxed & Happy Cat

Signs that your cat is relaxed and content include making themselves small and unthreatening. Often this includes tucking their paws underneath themselves while lying down. Slightly forward-facing ears, purring, and loving soft-soft blinks indicate your cat feels peaceful.

A relaxed cat has ears that are slightly angled outward, but facing forward. Your cat’s tail is also very expressive and can tell you much about its feelings. When greeting you, your cat will show its friendliness with an upright tail curled just at the end. If they’re cross, they may thump their tail aggressively.

ginger tabby with very fluffy tail outside on a lead
Who wouldn’t chase this tail?

Their pupils may dilate if they’re entertained or suddenly excited. Look out for this the next time you’re playing with your cat!

Cat-Staring Requires Context

We’ve all heard that the eyes are the windows to the soul. However, it’s not that straightforward when it comes to cats. As discussed in this article, there are many reasons why cats may be boring their eyes into your soul.

Devon rex with dark face

Food is right at the top of the list of possibilities, probably because food is often high on a cat’s list of priorities. However, your cat may be staring at you to convey its need for food, attention, or assistance.

Cats enjoy a regular routine. If staring is combined with a sudden change in their behavior or disease symptoms, taking your kitty for a checkup may be wise.

tabby cat with green eyes with greenery behind

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Saturday 20th of February 2021

My sister, Lexy, and I stare at our mom a lot. Usually for food! MOL


Saturday 20th of February 2021

I hope your mum pays attention to you and Lexy and serves you treats up fast! meow

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