Cats

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Experts Explain Why Cats Stare At You Without Blinking

Cats are staring contest champions.

Cats are expressive and fascinating animals, but their ways of communicating don’t always make sense to people. So why does your cat stare at you without blinking, and what does this behavior mean? Veterinary experts explain the reasons behind your cat’s super intense eye contact.

The Cat Wants Your Attention

“Your cat may be staring at you because they are bored, or because they are used to making eye contact before good things happen, like getting pets and treats,” Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado, Cat Behavior Expert with Rover, tells Romper. To get a better read, pay attention to what your cat is doing in addition to staring. “If you begin to walk, they may take the lead and show you to an empty food bowl, or the door to be let out, for example,” Lucie Wilkins, Registered Vet Nurse & Cat Blogger at Kitty Cat Tree, tells Romper. Sometimes staring is just part of the cat’s overall attempt to communicate with you.

The Cat Is Curious Or Surprised

“It doesn’t mean that cats are upset, but if they’re staring at you without blinking they’re likely very interested or surprised by a sound you’re making or something you’re doing,” as Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM at Better With Cats, tells Romper. And as anyone who has lived with a feline knows, cats can be surprised by just about anything, from the sound of a cabinet door closing to the dishwasher turning on. “Sometimes an unfamiliar noise or movement can startle your cat and they can be afraid or curious as to what will happen next,” says Wilkins. “The wide-eyed look can be down to curiosity and not wanting to miss anything, or fear and concentrating closely for the next move.” Your cat’s big-eyed stare could simply mean that some sound or movement caught them by surprise.

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The Cat Feels Threatened

Try to avoid a stare down match with your cat. “A cat who is staring without blinking can signify that they are attempting to dominate. I would recommend never to stare back into a cat's eyes as it can result in a hostile confrontation,” says Wilkins. In fact, some cats find staring threatening, as Dr. Delgado explains.

Instead, avert your gaze or try the slow blink to help your cat feel calm and safe. “To break your cat's stare, slowly close your eyes (what we call the ‘slow blink’) which is a relaxing gesture,” says Dr. Delgado. “Your cat may even ‘slow blink’ back at you.” This is usually a very positive sign. “A soft, partially blinking gaze is a sign of relaxation and comfort in cats,” says Dr. Philips. Here’s to fewer stares and more slow blinks for your happy cat.

Experts

Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM at Better With Cats

Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado, Cat Behavior Expert with Rover

Lucie Wilkins, Registered Vet Nurse & Cat Blogger at Kitty Cat Tree