Last Updated on: September 8, 2023 by Crystal Uys
If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ve probably noticed them staring at you unwaveringly at some point or another. Cats are unique creatures with several unique behaviors, so their staring isn’t surprising in the least.
We don’t know exactly why cats stare, but there are many different theories. You can rest assured that most staring is normal. However, there are some underlying illnesses that can cause excessive staring, like neurological problems.
Let’s look deeper into why your cat may be looking at you and when you might want to be concerned.
Top 3 Normal Reasons Why Cats Stare
There are many normal reasons for staring. These are the most common reasons cats stare at their owners and others and usually aren’t a cause for concern.
Many cats stare at their owners simply due to affection. When a cat is pleased and calm, they may make eye contact with their owner as a show of trust and satisfaction.
This staring is frequently accompanied by a slow blink, commonly described as a “cat kiss.” A leisurely blink indicates that your cat is content and comfortable in your presence, and it is their way of showing love and devotion.
Cats are predators, even if they don’t spend much time hunting these days. However, they will still focus intently on moving objects outside the window, including toys and birds. They may also stare intently at you.
Usually, this means that the cat is looking to play, so watch your toes. Their predatory stare may be a way to indicate that they’re about to attack, but it’s completely normal, and no reason to be concerned.
This type of stare often involves the cat’s eyes dilating, as well as a stiffening of their body.
Most cats are curious. Therefore, when something piques their interest, they may stare at it for quite a while. They may seem like they will attack it, especially if whatever they’re staring at is fast-moving. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will. Sometimes, this stare is accompanied by head tilts and meows.
The 3 Abnormal Reasons for Staring
While most cats will stare for completely normal reasons, there are some adverse reasons for staring, too. If you notice your cat displaying other signs, it may be a sign that something is wrong with them, indicating your need to seek veterinary attention.
1. Sign of Illness
Occasionally, staring behaviors can be a sign of underlying illnesses. While this is rare, many neurological symptoms may confuse a cat, leading to excessive staring. Seizures, brain tumors, and dementia all fit into this category.
Vision problems can also lead to staring, as the cat may need to spend longer figuring out their environment. Hyperthyroidism may also cause unusual staring.
These illnesses usually have other signs, too, though. For instance, your can may be disoriented, lack balance, and have changes in behavior. These problems require veterinary attention, so we recommend seeking veterinary care immediately.
2. Signs of Anxiety
Staring may also be a sign of anxiety or stress. Usually, stress also involves other conditions, like excessive grooming, changes in appetite, and hiding.
Cats are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment. For instance, moving to a new home or schedule changes can cause excessive stress and anxiety. Cats may also feel anxious if their needs aren’t met, including their need for social interaction and stimulation.
To reduce anxiety, there are many steps you can take. You should fulfill any of their needs that aren’t being fulfilled. For instance, you should consider whether they’re bored or need more attention.
Sometimes, there isn’t much you can do, though. Stressful events are simply stressful and can’t all be avoided completely. Often, you’ll just need to wait it out until your feline has gotten used to their new situation.
3. Sign of Aggression
Sometimes, the predatory side of staring is aggression. If you notice your cat staring at you tensely and threateningly, they may be aggressive or territorial. You’ll probably notice other signs of this, too. For instance, they may hiss, growl, or swish their tail.
If your cat is being aggressive, you should be extremely cautious. Aggressive cats will bite and scratch to protect themselves, even if there isn’t a true need for them to protect themselves. You should consult your vet if you think your cat is too aggressive. Aggression can be a sign of underlying problems, such as illness.
Why Won’t My Cat Stop Staring at Nothing?
Most of us can understand it when our cats stare at something. However, it can be confusing if our cats stare at nothing. There are several reasons this may happen, though, including:
If your cat cannot see well, they may stare at nothing. Common vision problems include cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal disease. Your cat’s staring behavior will probably come with other signs, like bumping into things.
Even if your cat sees things fine, if their brain isn’t processing it correctly, they may still stare off into space. Neurological conditions are varied, but many of them cause unusual behavior. These illnesses can be extremely debilitating and require veterinary attention right away.
Very bored cats may stare off into space for no apparent reason. Boredom isn’t always bad, but too much of it can be. Therefore, you need to provide your cat with the right stimulation.
If your cat is always bored, you must provide more toys, affection, or playtime. Toys, scratching posts, and window perches are all ways to add extra stimulation to your cat’s day.
Cats may stare for all sorts of different reasons—and most are pretty normal. However, paying attention to your cat’s behavior is important, as staring can also be a sign of underlying problems. Neurological and vision problems can all lead to cats staring at the same spot for long periods.
If your cat’s gazing habit is accompanied by additional symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, or behavioral abnormalities, you should immediately seek veterinary attention. Similarly, if you observe your cat looking at nothing for long periods, you should seek veterinary attention to address potential eyesight difficulties or neurological illnesses.
Of course, because staring is often normal, there usually isn’t anything to be concerned about. It’s only when other signs accompany the staring that you may want to be concerned.
Featured Image Credit: bez_bretelky, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!