You're sitting on the couch, enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon by reading a book.
You know you're alone in the house, but yet you feel slightly uneasy, like you're not really alone. You feel like you're being watched.
You put your book down, glance around the room, and see that you are being watched. Very intently. By unblinking eyes. It's your cat!
What does she mean by staring at you like that?
Is she trying to hypnotize you? "You will go into the kitchen. You will get food. You will place it in my bowl." Or perhaps she's peering into your subconscious, looking for deep, dark secrets that she can use to blackmail you later on.
Or maybe she thinks you're a giant mouse or bird and she's stalking you, just waiting for the perfect moment to pounce.
Although her motives are most likely none of the above, cats do sometimes look intently at their humans. But why?
Cat eyes work differently than ours.
For one thing, your cat may not actually be staring at you as often as you think she is. Human eyes need to be kept moist to see, so people blink their eyes often to keep the eyeballs lubricated.
But cats' eyes are different. Their eyes don't need to be kept as moist, so they don't blink as often. Humans interpret a steady, non-blinking gaze as a stare. But your cat may just be looking in your direction and not blinking because that's the way she looks at things.
Your cat can read you very well, but most of what she knows about you she learns through body language. She may just been looking at you to make sure you're comfortable and settled in. She's watching for a sign to see if you want anything from her.
Cat staring contests are real.
Cats will sometimes stare at each other as a sign of aggression. If a new cat enters another cat's territory, the cats may stare as they determine social dominance. Often these encounters are settled when one cat stares the other one down. If not, though, the meeting could end in a fight if you are not there to referee.
But that's rarely the case if a cat stares at a human. The cat may just find the person interesting, or be watching for signs of affection or aggression from the person, especially if it's someone the cat doesn't know.
Sometimes it's a less likely health issue, but very rarely.
Staring can be a symptom of some health issues as well, including kidney failure, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or severe high blood pressure. If your cat seems to be staring much of the time, especially if the pupils are dilated, take her to the vet to make sure there are no medical issues.
But for the most part, if your cat is staring at you, it's probably just because she loves you. Does she stare at you for a while, and then blink one or both eyes slowly? Sometimes called "cat kisses", these blinks are her way of telling you she's happy, content, comfortable, and feels safe. You can relax and rejoice in the fact your cat is as happy that you're in her life as you are happy that she is in yours.
Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.