Making Eye Contact with Your Cat

It is said that we should not stare at our cat. It will intimidate him. Our cat will perceive it as some sort of threat. Some people describe it as a “predator stare”. Other people think that if we stare at our cat, he might attack us! Some cat owners spend their entire life avoiding eye contact with their cat. That can’t be right.

Staring at a cat
Photo by torbakhopper
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

In this short post I provide my ideas about making eye contact with our cat. I don’t think there is much on the Internet in the way of useful information about staring at your cat. There is a lot of chatter about it (which I ignore) but I have never read anything in all the books that I have about the domestic cat which says that it is a bad thing to stare at your cat. I have lots of reference works and have read most of them – I can’t remember anything on the stare.

As a consequence, I think there is no problem about making eye contact with your cat and certainly judging by my own experiences I cannot agree that it is a bad thing to stare at your cat. I frequently have long eye to eye sessions with my cat, Charlie, when I’m talking to him.

When I look at him in the eye and talk to him gently he will blink slowly at me indicating that he is content and he likes it.

I think people’s ideas about staring at your cat probably it comes from discussions about wild cats. People say that you should not run away from a large wild cat because in doing so you give a strong indication to the cat that you are prey. The cat will chase you and pull you down.

Whereas if you stand your ground and make yourself as big as possible, create noise etc, it is said that you can see off the mountain lion in America. You can stare down a mountain lion and win the psychological battle about superiority.

It is interesting to note that in the Sunderban tiger reserve in Bangladesh where there is conflict between people and the tiger it has been found that if people wear a mask on the back of their heads the tiger will not attack indicating that when a person looks a tiger in the eye he is much less likely to attack than when walking or running away from a tiger.

There is, therefore, certainly a psychological effect when looking your cat in the eye. However, the domestic cat is domesticated and sociable. Your cat knows you well. You’re close to your cat and you are friends. There is nothing hostile or intimidating in your stare that is directed at your cat.

If while you are making eye contact with your cat you are speaking in a calm voice and showing all the signs of being friendly, I think it is a positive interaction with your cat. There is nothing bad about it but perhaps it does depend on the circumstances and how both cat and person are behaving at that particular moment in time.

I have a feeling that some people will disagree with me. It probably depends on the cat and the person. Some cats may find it intimidating. Perhaps these are more the timid and submissive cats. More confident cats are perhaps more likely to accept and enjoy it.

What do you think?

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19 thoughts on “Making Eye Contact with Your Cat”

  1. Interesting article and I’ve never really thought about it with cats; dogs yes but not cats.
    I don’t seek my cats out to stare at them but when they look at me I don’t look away they seem to like me making eye contact especially when I talk to them 🙂

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  2. When I call out the name of one of my cats, they most always make eye contact with me.
    On the outside and between male cats, eye contact is always a challenge and a fight inevitable.
    It makes sense to me that big wild cats should be stared down, because that is what is recommended when confronted by a vicious dog. Never turn and run.

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