Your Cat Isn’t Trying to Win a Staring Contest, He Is Just Really Into You

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Have you ever wondered why your cat sits there at just stares right at you? Does he want to tell you something? Is he just that obsessed with you? Could he be secretly plotting your death? It’s hard to tell with cats, so I asked a veterinarian.

Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Cat Life Today, told me that there are a few reasons why cats fix their unblinking gaze on us humans. According to Dr. Coates, you can tell what the stare means by looking at whether the eyes are slitted, open, or sleepy-like.

“A cat who is staring at you with a fixed gaze and slitted eyelids is probably scared or upset about something,” she said, “particularly if their tail is also flicking or puffed up.” If your cat is frightened, speak in a reassuring tone or pet them softly.

Sometimes, cats stare at humans or other cats to exert their dominance. “A fixed, unblinking stare without the slitted eyelids may be a sign of dominance in cats,” Dr. Coates explained. If you have more than one cat, you can clue yourself in to which one is dominant by looking for this behavior, but it may already be obvious based on other behaviors, like which cat is always in the most comfortable spot in the house.

It’s not that common for cats to exert dominance over their human owners, but they may resort to the dominance stare when they want badly for you to do something, like feed them or let them out, said Dr. Coates. Apparently, cats pull out all the stops.

Then there is the love stare. Yes, your cat might be staring at you because he is overwhelmed with affection for you. When cats stare at people lovingly, they have an almost sleepy look, Dr. Coates described. “Oftentimes these relaxed stares are broken up by slow blinks.”

So there you have it. Your cat is most likely obsessed with you, or he might want something from you. Sounds about right.

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Elisa is a loving wife and stay at home mom living in San Francisco's Telegraph Hill neighborhood. A proud sixth-generation San Franciscan, Elisa spent her early years in the Haight-Ashbury before moving to Mill Valley in elementary school. She studied Comparative Literature and French Language at University of San Francisco, where she wrote her thesis on the origins of fairy tales. Along with being the Managing Editor here at San Francisco Bay Area Moms, Elisa also writes for POPSUGAR, FamilyEducation, and OXO Brands.

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