Sometimes my cat and I have staring contests. We lock eyes and stay that way for a few moments — it's a sweet spell of time and even feels like we're connecting and communicating with our eyes, even though in the back of my mind I'm aware he's an animal and quite possibly not capable of human-like thoughts. If you and your cat ever find yourselves holding each others' gaze, you might be wondering what your cat is thinking when they are staring at you. It may actually be deeper than you realize. Or, they may just be thinking of nothing more than kibbles and bits.
Cats are very keyed into their owners, according to Dr. Kathryn Primm, a veterinarian in Tennessee who writes for the I Heart Cats website. Dr. Primm said because you are the food and shelter provider, cats are very focused on their owner's body cues, and that's why they're always staring at you in general.
Because felines are natural predators, some of the staring can come from that as well, according to Dr. Justine A. Lee, a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist in Minnesota. Writing on The Pet Health Network, Dr. Lee said the staring is all part of the "curiosity killed the cat" reputation cats have. They just want to know what's going on.
Cats will also follow your lead when it comes to emotional stability. "Your shared look can reaffirm your bond and assure the social stability of your group," Dr. Primm said. "If you are calm, she is calm. If you look on edge, she will be too."
With all of that, it's still hard not to believe there's some big time higher-level thinking going on when they look at you in a way that bores into your soul and bonds you together. But because you can't simply just ask your cat "what's up?", here are some things that your cat is probably thinking as they're watching you.
1. Feed Me. Now.
Your number one responsibility as a cat owner is to feed them — well, in addition to keeping their litter box clean. So when they see you, and your eyes connect, and it seems like they are pleading, it could just be a plaintive "feed me now" request. At least this one's easy to solve by popping open a can of shredded turkey or whitefish and tuna combo and seeing if that satisfies them.
1. I'm Not Loving Your New Haircut
Are cats, dare I say it, catty? Sometimes you may wonder if your cat notices changes in your physical appearance. And if they care. And if they're judging you.
3. Ugh, Your Breath...
If you're lucky enough to get a morning cuddle out of them before you get out of bed, is your morning breath the reason behind that look of disappointment on their face?
4. You've Got Something On Your Face
Are they staring at you because you've got chocolate leftover in the corner of your month from that amazing cookie you just ate and they're embarrassed for you, or trying to figure out how they can get a taste?
5. Are You My Mother?
Most kittens are taken away from their mamas when they are little, so it's possible that just like the bird in P.D. Eastman's popular children's book, kittens everywhere are wondering if their owner is their mother.
6. Take Me With You
Just when you have your bags packed, your cat jumps in and thinks he's going with you. He looks up at you, pleading, wanting to be in on the trip. Or maybe he's just comfortable. Or maybe he's just trying to get a rise out of you.
7. I'm Bored
You might wonder if your cat has run out of fun things to do at your house and if his plaintive stare is one for freedom to run around outdoors or to at least get a few new toys.
8. What Did You Get For Me?
They should know by now that in every shipment you receive, there is something glorious waiting for them: a brand new cardboard box.
9. Are You *Really* Wearing That?
I guess not...
10. I Look Ridiculous
It's a fact that cats in costume are adorable and hilarious, but your little feline might not agree. If they look completely unamused rocking a hat, sweater or anything other than a simple collar whatsoever, they might be trying to tell you with their eyes that it's not really their style.
11. Is That Thing Staying?
Whether there is a child, a dog, a newborn, or a plant that has moved in after the cat, don't be surprised if they don't give the new guy in town the warmest welcome right away... or ever.