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What Does It Mean When A Cat Stares At You? 5 Reasons Why

Cats are peculiar and fascinating creatures. Some of their habits, such as your kitty’s soft purrs, are easy for us to understand as affectionate. Other behavioral characteristics of cats are far more confusing.

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 the topic.

grey scottish fold cat with amber eyes staring

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

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

In one study, it was 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 all ways for cats to 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 in which 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

5 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Staring At You

Remember that every feline is unique and full of character. You know your cat best, but here are five general reasons why a cat may be eyeballing you.

1. They’re Hungry

This is one of the most likely reasons that 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 of their designated mealtimes.

snowshoe cat 1
snowshoe cat

Other times, your cat might be trying 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

We all know that cats can be absolute divas – especially the “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. Oftentimes, my own cat simply wants to chat. And possibly coax some food out of me.

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

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Some cats demand attention with long whining meows, others use cute little kitten purrs. Maybe, a soft touch of their paws to 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 wonderfully affectionate to their owners. 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

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Even though staring is considered rude in humans, it’s a way for cats to let you know that 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 their day to adore you.

4. They’re Agitated or 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’re not going to forget about it any time soon.

sphynx cat wearing bath cap in a bucket
Sphynx Cat

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If you see your cat 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

Oftentimes, sick and even terminally ill cats tend to hide away to protect themselves in their vulnerable state. Cat’s are usually quite private, and enjoy having a space of their own.

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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 that spends the most time with your cat, they may identify you as the human they can trust most and may come to you when they’re afraid.

If your cat is staring at you but doesn’t want food or attention, then there may be a problem they think you can solve. Check their fur, mouth, and in between their paws to see if something is causing them discomfort.

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

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Is Cat-Staring Aggressive?

One of the many ways in which cats communicate with each other is body language. And there are many ways in which different body-parts can indicate a range of emotions. Staring alone is not enough on its own to signal aggression.

Sometimes, cats will 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

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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 in an attempt 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

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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 are also indicators that your cat is feeling at home.

A relaxed cat has ears that are slightly angled outward, but facing forward. Additionally, your cat’s tail is very expressive. When greeting you, your cat will show its friendliness with an upright tail that’s curled just at the end.

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

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Their pupils may dilate as well when they’re entertained or suddenly excited. Look out for this the next time you’re playing with your cat Their eyes may also suddenly dilate when they become happy or excited.

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Cat-Staring Requires Context

We’ve all heard that the eyes are the windows to the soul. However, in the case of cats, it’s their whole bodies that are used to convey emotion. As we’ve discussed in this article, there are many varying reasons why cats may be boring their eyes into your soul.

Devon rex with dark face

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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 even assistance.


Cat’s enjoy a personal routine. If staring is combined with a sudden change in their behavior, then it may be wise to take your kitty for a checkup. If there’s no reason you can think of, your cat may be simply showing you some love.

tabby cat with green eyes with greenery behind

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Please Note: This what does it mean when a cat stares at you post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not affect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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Lola

Saturday 20th of February 2021

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

thediscerningcat

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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