Why does my cat stare at me?

Do you ever wake up and see your cat lying on your chest, staring straight into your eyes? Or maybe you feel those green eyes drilling a hole in your back while working on your computer? Chances are, why is my cat staring at me?

You’ve probably read that direct eye contact is considered a threat in the cat world, so you might wonder, “What have I done?”

The answer to the question, “Why does my cat stare at me?” is this: There may be several reasons for this. There are different scenarios in which cats can stare at you, the most important thing to pay attention to is body language. Read on to see when your cat is happy, angry or scared.

Judge your cat’s body language

The most important thing to pay attention to is your cat’s body language. Eyes can be the window to the soul, but before you worry too much remember that cat communication is more than just eye contact. The first step is to read his body language – all the way from his eyes to the tip of his tail.

Happy cat

If you notice your cat staring at you, is he standing high with his tail down? The way your cat poses itself can say a lot about how they feel.

Two different body positions accompanied by a staring gaze offer two different stories. In case your cat is staring at you, blinking slowly while he’s centimetres away from your face, this cat behaviour is actually a sign of affection.

Blinking is a friendly gesture, so we can assume that your cat, in combination with loose relaxed body language, will tell you that he wants to be close to you and spend time with you.

Or this could also be his way of waking you up. Whether he wants his breakfast right away or wants you to get up and give him company, this body language is friendly and means he just wants your attention.

Angry cat

A loose, relaxed body language is not seen in cats about to attack. A cat that is upset shows significant signs, such as dilation of the pupils, ears turned to the side, a stiffer body and an agitated tail that sways back and forth.

This body language, in addition to direct eye contact, is definitely a potential threat and a signal that your cat needs some space. In this case it is best to turn away your eyes, distract your cat and focus his attention on another activity to add some space between you and your cat.

You can make a slightly throbbing sound on your desk or throw a crumpled piece of paper or a pen into the room that can chase your cat.

Another option is to slowly close your eyes and open them again. For the cat, this is a clear signal that you don’t want any harm. If you do this a number of times in a row, you’ll see the cat wink at you and maybe even relax. With aggressive cats you can sometimes break through the behaviour in this way.

Whether your cat is playing or not, it helps to break eye contact and defuse tension. When your cat seems calmer, go and do an activity with him that he really likes. Like chasing a fishing rod or other kind of toy. Or teach your cat to hunt mice!

Frightened cat

Suppose your cat is scared, you can tell by his posture. Indications of a frightened cat are:

He’s staring at you and he’s crouched with his tail under his body.
He is hiding behind a piece of furniture.
It may be that you have unconsciously frightened your cat. Like jumping and cheering when your soccer team scored or you accidentally dropped something. Sometimes it may even be a sound that your cat heard outside your house.

Cat frightened staring

In his mind, he keeps an eye on the danger. He will stare at the one who is closest, who made the loudest noise or who moves around. This would be a good time to take a few deep meditative breaths to calm yourself.

At this point it’s wise to keep a good distance so as not to frighten your cat further. You can grab some tasty cat biscuits and throw them at your cat to distract him.

If he’s a big fan of his treats, it would be really hard for him to stay anxious. He will eat his favorite treats and won’t be scared anymore. You can also try putting those delicacies in an interactive toy or feeder for cats. Working for his treats will help distract his thoughts from what had previously frightened him.

How cats learn to attract your attention

Cats can be very smart when it comes to learning ways to attract the attention of their owner. From the outright vocalizing to the more subtle cat-staring, cats aren’t strangers when it comes to saying, “Hey! Look at me.”

Many people talk to their cats and start stroking them more when their cat stares at them. This can be a way for the cat to indicate that they want to interact with you.

Cat staring at someone

Some cats, like some dogs, have learned to sit and stare in front of their owners so that their owners can feed them or play with them.


Staring may be rude in human society, but in the animal world it conveys many different messages. Learn what your cat has to say to you to strengthen your bond with your cat!


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