Have you ever had someone stare at you and felt uncomfortable? Our feline companions feel very much the same way. In fact, cat behavior can become aggressive because a stare is often perceived as a challenge. Avoiding direct eye contact is a way cats try to protect themselves from conflict.
How Cats Perceive Direct Stares
Even when cats are in a comfortable environment with people they know and trust, a direct stare will make them uncomfortable. If they know the person staring, they will often turn their face away or close their eyes. When they don’t feel threatened, closing their eyes is their way of saying “if I can’t see them, they can’t see me.”
If you’re meeting a cat for the first time, do your best not to make direct eye contact. It’s a good idea to blink and look away if you catch the cat’s eye. This gives the cat a feeling that it’s okay to approach safely, and he’ll often come close for further investigation. Cats that mistakenly make eye contact with someone new will often blink and narrow their eyes.
Why Cats Approach Those That Aren’t Cat Lovers
One aspect of cat behavior that many wonder about is why cats are so drawn to people that don’t like or are allergic to them. Those that are not cat lovers will usually ignore the cat and not look at him. Cat lovers, on the other hand, will look continuously at the cat, trying to get his attention. The cat is much more comfortable with the first approach vs. the second, and so he approaches the non cat lover more readily.
Although a cat is well socialized, direct eye contact can be upsetting to him. Children may have a tendency to get close to cats and stare at them while talking. While the cat knows the child and is not intimidated, the direct eye contact is disconcerting and will give the cat reason to pause before moving forward in greeting.
The next time you find yourself looking at your cat and wondering why he won’t meet your gaze, he’s not being aloof, he’s just being cautious!