Live with a cat can be as beautiful as it is puzzling. And felines have a reputation for being enigmatic and more difficult to read than their canine companions. For this reason, it is likely that we wonder what our cat Cabo wants to tell us, or what the cat Frida wants, who purrs on our lap when she looks at us with those big eyes. And we may believe that she is asking us for dinner or that she is sending us a message that we cannot understand. Or maybe there’s something else behind those cat eyes.
What cats say when they look at us
It’s not unique to our cats: in most animal encounters, a stare into the eyes denotes a sign of impending aggression, a challenge. A furry way of saying: I’m not afraid of you. This message can also be an effective way to avoid a fight. If one of the two cats involved in the “gaze war” he leans back and lowers his head to avoid eye contact with the other feline, it’s his catlike way of trying to de-escalate the tension. And to avoid a fight that otherwise seemed imminent.
And just the opposite: If neither feline turns their heads to break that direct eye contact, a catfight can ensue, as I explain to my human patients in the feline behavior consultation when they come because two cats that live at home are fighting or, in the best of cases, they don’t get along.
Eye: the same is not true when our cats look at us, their beloved humans. Because there are several reasons why cats look at us so much, and not all of them involve fear or alertness!
Your cat looks at you: is it time for my dinner?
Our purr comrades watch us primarily to gather information. In fact, I like to refer to cats as “human psychologists”: my experience as an expert in feline behavior confirms that cats they spend a lot of time examining their humans; in studying our movements, schedules and routines, which can be learned with amazing accuracy!
Our cats know, without twisting their mustaches, when we approach the cupboard where we keep their favorite tuna treats. Or when we can be in the mood and mood to apply ourselves in a fun session of cat games. And many felines even follow us into the bathroom because they know we’ll be still and willing to give them some caresses and attention during those minutes trapped in the toilet!
So those cat looks serve them, above all, to learn from their humans, and collect information that allows them to know what our next move will be. And when we get close to the candy cabinet, we can be prepared! So that later they say that cats do not learn!
My cat looks at me, does he want to play?
And our cat can look at us because, simply, he wants to play! Looking and staring is an innate behavior in cats, part of their natural predation (and game) sequence. Not only that: it may be that in addition to that fixed gaze, we may notice that the pupils of our furry comrade dilate, and that he dedicates us the classic and irresistible! butt shake with which felines prepare to jump and pounce on their toy.
Let’s not ignore this cat message: with it our friends tell us they need more playtime with us, their dear humans, and to add more interactive, fishing-rod-type toy play to our routine!
And if your cat looks at you: she says “I love you”
Finally, cats look us in the eye for pure love, and that irresistible feline look can be a way of saying “human, human, I love you”, in their cat language. We have already told you about it in this feline column: cats blink slowly at us when they feel calm, happy and trust us. In fact, that soft cat look in the eye, even followed by a few feline blinks, is a way of telling us how much they love us, in their own feline way!
Let’s not try to return a stare: those supposedly fun “star wars” with our friend are one of the four things that your cat would like you to stop doing. Instead, let’s try a soft gaze and very slow blinking. Better yet: let’s turn our heads to the side a little while we practice it.
This blink denotes confidence, in cat language; and that, instead of being alert and vigilant, we find ourselves relaxed. Our furry friends will notice and we will help them feel even more relaxed and happy by our side!
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