4 min read

Why Does My Cat Stare At Me?

<p><a href="http://i.imgur.com/b0NMqus.jpg" target="_blank">Imgur/courageousrobot</a><a href="http://i.imgur.com/b0NMqus.jpg"></a><br></p>

Sometimes a pair of eyes flashes in the darkness.

Listen. There is an feline animal in your house. And she is watching you.

She is always watching you.

YouTube/Aaron Anderson

A cat's stare has made many people feel a bit uneasy. Cat lovers sometimes cower under the unflinching gaze of their feline family members. One begins to wonder whether the brain behind those eyes is plotting something mischievous, like leaping up and perching on a human's head, or (gasp!) peeing on the bed or generally going completely bonkers.

The cat stare even has the power to unhinge the strongest minds. A cat famously made one philosopher rethink his humanness. "I often ask myself, just to see, who I am - and who I am (following) at the moment when, caught naked, in silence, by the gaze of an animal, for example the eyes of a cat, I have trouble, yes, a bad time overcoming my embarrassment," Jacques Derrida wrote of his particular encounter with a cat stare.

We've all been there.

But an expert says that cat staring is mostly in our heads. "Staring is more of a belief than an actual behavior cats are exhibiting," K.C. Theisen, director of pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States, told The Dodo. "It's the one being looked at who decides the cat's staring, and thus impolite or threatening."

Jay Schweig

Cats and humans have very different vision and eyes, Thiesen points out, and so we see the world differently. "Cats are adapted not to blink as often which helps with hunting, but when they are not chasing prey, a steady, soft gaze means they are relaxed and feel safe," she said. "They may be watching over you protectively and this is a sign of the bond between you and your cat, more than any kind of social faux pas."

In rare cases, another expert cautions, the appearance of incessant staring can indicate a problem with your cat's kidneys, heart or thyroid, so if your cat's staring is really severe, it's always best to get a vet's opinion.

The takeaway? There's no need to fear the feline eyes flashing in the darkness. Your cat is probably not plotting any sort of revolution of your household's social order. And why would they? Cats already have all the power anyway.

Have questions you want answered? Put them in the comments below.