Table of Contents
- What Do Cats Tell Us With the Way They Stare?
- Why Does My Cat Stare at Me?
- Why is My Cat Looking at an Empty Space?
- Why is My Cat Looking Under the Seat or Behind the Closet?
- Cat’s Pupil: Perfect Design in Adaptation
- Do Cats See in the Dark?
- Why Do Cats’ Eyes Shine in the Dark?
- Do Cats See in Black and White?
- Can Cats See Ultraviolet Rays?
- If a Cat’s Pupils Are Dilated
- If a Cat’s Pupils Are Too Contracted
- Most Common Eye Problems in Cats
Before going into detail about cats’ eyes, I can answer the question “why does my cat stare at me” briefly for those of you who do not have the time.
She is most probably saying
“I love you“.
But her staring eyes may also have different causes.
What Do Cats Tell Us With the Way They Stare?
Changes in each part of her body, from the nose to the tail, the way she moves, the inconsistencies of her purring, and, of course, the magnificent gaze in those huge eyes that steal our hearts when she wants them to…
Your cat masterfully uses each one of these signifiers to express what she wants to tell us, to show happiness or to complain, to display excitement or to report her wish list.
As a cat owner, in the early years, I could not stop myself from thinking, “Why is my cat staring at me like this?”. It was hard to figure out what those beautiful eyes said, so small at one moment and inexplicably gigantic at the next.
She can look at the thin space between two cabinets, under your seat, the door at the entrance of your house, a spot that is unclear for you from the window sill, and stay still, blinking rarely or without blinking at all for minutes.
So where is my cat looking at and why, what is she trying to tell me? What does it mean when her eyes are wide open? What does it mean when a cat squints?
Let’s look at the clues together:
First of all, it is useful to know the difference between wide-open eyes and half-closed eyes.
The Stare of My Cat With Her Eyes Wide Open
First of all, she is a curious creature of course… Cats are immensely interested in the outside world.
Her eyes grow wide with interest when dealing with you or any potential toy (!) (anything that can be thrown, hugged and kicked with the small strokes of her paws, almost anything that can be used as a scratching board for nail care)!
However, besides curiosity, sometimes your cat’s eyes get bigger in different emotional states such as pleasure or anger and rage; when her hunting instincts kick in or when she demands food.
Cats are among a group of animals who have the largest eyes in proportion to the size of their bodies.
When My Cat’s Eyes Are Half-closed
An adult cat, especially in a comfortable domestic environment where all her needs are met, could sleep up to 18 hours during the day.
That’s how our little friend gathers the high energy that she has in the remaining hours of the day.
That’s why if she is sitting with her eyes are half-closed or lying down, that means it is time to take a break from playing and eating.
It is only a matter of time before the eyelids, which gradually open and close, with lesser and lesser gaps each time, close completely and she is ready for a nap.
Why Does My Cat Stare at Me?
One of the most characteristic features of cats who still carry the life practices of their wild ancestors in their genes is that they are master hunters.
While hunting, they especially use their excellent vision to watch and observe what is happening in their surroundings with all their attention.
Usually, when a cat’s eyes are wide open and she doesn’t blink at all or blinks rarely, that means she is paying attention to a specific thing in her environment.
Her attention is focused on a specific point.
But of course, this interest is not just for hunting.
If your cat stares at you…
1. I Love You
She watches you with love and compassion, wide opening her eyes from where she is sitting or perhaps spreading and lying comfortably. She blinks very rarely and slowly. This is the time when she tells you: ‘‘I’m listening to you, you have my attention. I trust you and I love you.’’ These slow blinks are a kind of flirtation. That’s why this stare is referred to as kitty kiss.
If you return this look of your cat with a soft and caring glance or even loving words, she will be over the moon!
Since their night vision is very sharp, sometimes they can enjoy watching you at your feet or right next to your pillow while you sleep. If you wake up to two bright spots watching you, don’t be surprised! Everything’s alright.
2. I’m Exhausted
If her eyes are half-closed and she is blinking slowly, that means she is still peaceful and enjoying herself. She may even be thanking you for the toy mouse catching game you just played. But now she is very tired and ready to sleep. When can a cat say no to sleep anyway?
3. Why Haven’t You Given Me My Food Yet?
Huge eyes can be accompanied by fast blinking or long shrill meows. Her food or water may have run out, the sandbox may need cleaning, or maybe she just wanted to play. She may want to have her needs met or for you to show interest in her.
4. Why Are You Making Weird Sounds?
Generally, if there is no unusual situation, your cat will not care much while you are walking around.
But sometimes even when all her needs are met, whichever room you go to in the house, she comes after you, standing over and staring at you.
If there is an unusual situation at home; if your voice is louder than usual; if there is an argument; if you are very sad or cheerful, even singing, dancing, etc. then your cat is completely focused on you and gives you all her attention with her gaze. This change intrigues her.
On the other hand, don’t forget that the changes in your mood also affect your cat. If your mood is changing positively, both your cat’s happiness and curiosity increase.
However, when it is the opposite, her curiosity is accompanied by anxiety and tension, huge eyes accompany her tense meows and stiff tail movements.
5. Don’t You Dare Anger Me!
Here is one of the looks you should avoid!
Your cat is staring at you with its big eyes and has lowered her straight tail with a downward angle, hissing and you start hearing long and deep growls.
It is possible that she did not like the scolding she has just heard from you, felt threatened, angry and is preparing to attack to establish her authority over you.
One of the first solutions I can think of to prevent such an attack is to not look directly into your cat’s eyes as she does. If possible, sit at the same level as her and speak in a soft tone. She will calm down in a short amount of time.
Why is My Cat Looking at an Empty Space?
Okay, let’s face it: cats dizzy us with not just their funny behavior but also with their strange antics.
She pursues a relentless chase of an imaginary prey and makes a mess of your house, all of a sudden, she can decide that everything on the table is unnecessary and send it down one by one with a small paw action.
So how can this energetic little hairball suddenly stop and fix her gaze at a point for several minutes?
You may think that your cat is looking somewhere where there is nothing to see. For example, suddenly, a ceiling or an empty wall may be of interest.
Cats may be following the slightest change, an unusual noise coming from upstairs, a fly that has just landed on a wall and flew into another room of the house.
If your cat sits staring at the street door, don’t assume that the only reason for this is that she wants to go out of the house.
Perhaps there is an activity on your floor of the apartment: a guest coming to visit your neighbor or maybe one of the members of your house who hasn’t reached the door yet but will ring the bell or unlock the door with their key in a while.
This is because of your cat’s senses and perception abilities are much sharper than yours. And when these senses are activated, your cat’s eyes are fixated in the direction of what she perceives.
On the other hand, we cannot claim that we can fully solve the mysterious world of cats, can we?
It could be that none of these possibilities are occurring, and our cat may be watching an imaginary landscape in the mystery world she has created for herself.
So, is your cat ever tired of sitting by the window, watching what is going on outside for hours?
My cat can spend hours watching the street on the cushion I prepared for her by the window of my house.
Apart from napping and the occasional visit to her food bowl, she spends almost half the day by the window, by fixing her beautiful blue eyes periodically on a tree, a bird that takes off, children running or cars passing by.
It would not be right to compare your cat’s habits with that of a person.
Because there is rarely anything more tempting than observation for your cat who sits comfortably in a high place, carrying the legacy of her ancestors, who controlled the environment and scanned for potential prey, by taking a similar position…
Why is My Cat Looking Under the Seat or Behind the Closet?
Cats love enclosed and small hiding places.
For this reason, they love to hide any small objects they bring from the street or find at home, whether edible or not, to a point of choice.
To check the treasure room inside the house in which she has collected her loot (a pencil, a hairpin, a coin, a grape she picked up from the table, a nut that she found under the coffee table, etc.) for days or even for months without anybody noticing.
They love to hide any small objects they bring from the street or find at home, whether edible or not, to a point of choice. Occasionally, she pushes one of them out and plays with it for a while, sometimes eats it.
Sometimes you do not understand where it came from, but you are surprised to find out that the thing she is playing with is the lost button of your coat that you have been looking for days.
This is a quite common occurrence in homes with cats.
Because she senses the presence of insects, mice or even snakes that can be seen in houses with gardens in certain areas.
On the other hand, if your cat has begun to inspect an invisible side of any item or under it by opening her eyes thoroughly and standing still, and if she is persistent in this position, it may be useful to take a look at what is there. Perhaps an unwanted guest may have come to visit you!
Cat’s Pupil: Perfect Design in Adaptation
A person’s pupil is circular while that of a cat has the shape of a vertical ellipse.
Thanks to this elliptical pupil, she can adjust the amount of light coming into her eyes during the day, as well as control how much of it will reach the retina.
In the dark, a cat can see an average of 6 to 8 times better than a human.
There is no scientific evidence that cats see better than humans in daylight.
However, they are much better than people in seeing fast-moving objects.
You may have noticed that while your cat is drowsy or is slowly opening and closing the eyelids just before sleeping, a translucent thin tissue between the two eyelids covers the eye for a moment and then disappears behind the eyelids. This is your cat’s third eyelid. It acts as an extra protection shield between the cornea and eyelids. It also helps keep the eye moist.
However, this transparent layer should only be noticeable when your cat is getting ready to sleep or during sleep. If you see this layer when your cat’s eyes are completely open during the day, then there is a problem. I suggest you consult your vet.
At the center of her charming gaze are your cat’s pupils which are a marvel of design. They usually dilate and contract depending on the light intensity in the environment.
Enlarging to a full circle to catch even the smallest light in the dark, the pupils are contracted by the light intensity in daylight.
Do not worry in case you are curious about the answer to the following question:
The eye colors of cats that vary from green to yellow to chestnut may be a different color when they are only a few months old and then take a completely different color permanently during adulthood.
Cats have been subjected to various definitions since antiquity because of their looks and behavior, from being ascribed as a mysterious presence, to being a sign of sanctity and a sign of bad luck.
Although they are still considered to be of mystical importance in some parts of the world today; cats may contain mysteries, especially when it comes to their eyes, that still puzzles some of us and deserve scientific answers.
Do Cats See in the Dark?
Compared to humans, cats see very well in low-light environments. 15 percent of the light we need for seeing is sufficient for a cat.
This is one of the most important reasons why they are known as master night hunters like the roots of their species, big cats.
But, contrary to what many people think, they do not have a clear night vision in a completely light-free environment.
I assume that the most important reason why there is no night vision feature in the human eye is that we are primarily designed to see better in daylight.
Thanks to its multifunctional eye muscles and receptor cells, the human eye has a strong, detailed and clear view with a strong distance perception and a wide range of colors in the daylight.
However, it can never match a cat at night.
For more detailed information on cat sight, you can refer back to my earlier article called can cats see in the dark?
Why Do Cats’ Eyes Shine in the Dark?
This will sound familiar for those who have a cat: two bright green dots follow you closely in the hallway as you wake up thirsty at night and head towards the kitchen in the dark.
So what’s the secret of the eyes of this hairy little creature in the dark?
The characteristic of a cat’s eyes that allow her to see better at night also causes her eyes to glow in very dim lights.
A reflective layer is located just behind the retinas of cats. This special area, which increases the power of the light absorbed by the receptor cells of the eye (photo-receptors) is called tapetum lucidum. Thanks to this reflective layer which increases the vision and holds the light, even in low light levels, your cat’s eyes shine.
In nature, there is tapetum lucidum not only in cats, but also in dogs, horses, cows, deer, and the eyes of predators that hunt almost all night long.
Do Cats See in Black and White?
Contrary to common knowledge, cats can perceive color. But they see colors differently than the average human eye.
The receptors that perceive colors in the retina in a cat’s eye, choose between only blue and green. This color perception, which is not as diverse as the human eye, can at most be compared to that of a color-blind person who cannot perceive red.
In short, cats do not see the world around them in black and white, but still, they have a different color perception compared to humans.
Can Cats See Ultraviolet Rays?
In a study conducted by Biologist Professor Ron H. Douglas and his team at the City University of London in 2014, it was discovered that cats perceive ultraviolet rays that the human eye cannot detect. Just like dogs, fish, reptiles, and a bunch of other mammals, cats can see ultraviolet, just like all other superheroes!
If a Cat’s Pupils Are Dilated
Naturally, a cat with a great pair of eyes with so many characteristics doesn’t use her pupils only to adjust the light intensity.
The narrowing and widening pupil is also a tool to communicate with you and other creatures.
Of course, if we can decipher it.
Let’s take a look at our options:
There is not enough light in the environment or it is almost dark: By dilating her pupils, the cat can tour the house all night without hitting anything, climb to your bed and lie down at the place most comfortable and closest to you.
She can even wait beside you and watch you all night.
Who knows, maybe he can succumb to his sudden desire to play and plan a paw attack on your feet hanging out from the edge of the duvet!
To him, mostly, there is no one place, way or time to show you his love!
Regardless of the light, it might be worrying for your cat if there is an unusual change in her environment that she won’t like or is not used to: It might be stressful for your cat if there is a threat from another animal, if she stays hungry and thirsty for a long time, or if the house is empty for a long time and therefore she cannot communicate with anybody.
At such times, negative changes in the body and health are accompanied by a dilated pupil due to an increase in her perception of danger.
Another example where you can notice that your cat’s pupils are dilated is playtime: While hunting; during an attack or an ambush her excitement increases by nature, so her eyes will open wide and the pupils will dilate to become a full circular shape.
No problem. If you accompany her in the game, this delightful excitement will be good for her and it will be an activity that will entertain both of you and strengthen the bond you have with her.
If no change in the environment is visible to you, there may be a problem with your cat’s eyes (one or both): Be careful if your cat’s pupils remain enlarged for more than a day! This may be a sign of disease.
Besides her dilated pupils, paying attention to your cat’s eating/drinking routine, changes in the duration of her toilet times and the content will help your vet to diagnose correctly and easily, and arrange an appropriate treatment if there is a problem.
If a Cat’s Pupils Are Too Contracted
The light level in the environment may be above average for your cat: For example, the pupils of a cat sitting by the window or walking on the street on a very sunny day contract as much as possible to balance the light intensity.
There’s no problem with the amount of light, but your cat’s pupils still seem contracted: Pay attention to environmental factors. Another cat, another animal, human or maybe you may have angered your cat!
I advise you to check if you have been playing with him enough lately, the cleanliness of the sandbox or whether there is tension between another cat coming by the edge of the window and your cat.
As soon as the problem is resolved, you will immediately notice the relaxation in your cat’s gaze.
Most Common Eye Problems in Cats
Self-commanded and cheerful, lazy and lethargic…
Regardless of her character, as long as she is healthy and happy, your furry friend’s eyes will shine in the face of all kinds of toys and food that attracts her attention!
But, as all cat lovers know, from time to time, those magnificent eyes get hazy, watery, reddened, or even shut one or both at a time.
One of the most common health problems in cats is eye diseases.
Of course, when you encounter a health problem, it is best to take your cat to the vet and consult the experts.
A problem with your cat’s eye may be a symptom of another, and perhaps more important problems not only limited to this organ.
If you are one of those people who carefully monitor your cat’s health, I recommend you take her to the veterinarian at least once a year and have an eye examination.
Now let’s take a look at the eye problems your cat can face:
- Allergy and Irritation
- Corneal Ulcer
Allergy and Irritation
Why are my cat’s eyes squinted and watery?
The most likely answer to this question is often allergy or friction irritation. This is one of the most common problems in the eyes of cats.
Sometimes your cat can irritate one or both eyes with her paw while cleaning herself or while playing with another cat… Also, dust, strong odors, smoke can cause allergies and irritation.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Your cat squints her eyes, the eyes stay squinted continuously.
- Her eyes are completely closed.
- Watering of eyes.
- Burrs caused by excessive watering around the eyes.
- Transparent discharge.
- Moisten the problematic eye by soaking a cotton ball in warm water and wiping it without causing much discomfort to your cat by overpressing it.
- Applying the same method with warm black tea or chamomile tea, repeating once or twice a day.
- If the problem persists for more than a day, consult your veterinarian and apply the appropriate eye drops at the suggested amount and time.
Usually, when we encounter such problems, eye drops that we use and are sold in pharmacies may also work in this situation. Your vet will tell you what is necessary.
The eye problem, which is sometimes caused by allergies and irritation, can be confused by the onset of a more serious infection.
If the recommended drop does not work, it is necessary to take your cat to the vet and start treatment with antibiotic drops and ointments if necessary.
The second most common problem after allergies and irritation in cats is infections caused by various reasons.
It can especially be seen in cats who live on the street or spend time outside the house, get in contact with other cats or in house cats who are negatively affected by environmental conditions.
Some infections affect the nose as well as the eye, therefore the respiratory tract.
The sooner the infections caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and, not too often, parasites are noticed, the easier it is to treat.
- Constant squinting in one or both eyes of the cat.
- Watering of the eyes.
- Discharge (mostly yellow).
- Crust around the eyes.
- The eye is completely closed.
- Itchy eyes.
- Sometimes accompanying bumps and/or wheezing in breathing.
Treatment of the infection depends on the underlying cause.
- First of all, moisten a piece of cotton wool with warm water and wipe your cat’s eyes and, if necessary, nose with a light touch.
- To apply warm black tea or chamomile tea with the same method.
- To follow her rest and nutrition by checking that her food and water are sufficient and fresh.
- Applying appropriate eye drops by consulting your vet.
If within a few days there is no improvement in the situation or a worsening, you may need to take your cat to the vet and apply the recommended treatment methods with antibiotic drops and/or ointment, sometimes oral medication.
Sometimes in severe infections, your vet may order some tests to clarify the underlying cause.
Often the traumas experienced by stray cats and cats going out of the house are a nightmare for cat owners!
Many causes such as a blow in the eye in a catfight, a foreign material stabbed in the eye, injuries caused by falling from a high place, and vehicle crashing cause various traumas from light to heavy.
Such injuries can be common, especially if you have a very active and overly curious cat!
- Watering of eyes.
- Significant discomfort in the cat.
- Significant damage to the eyes.
- Severe damage to the eye and surrounding tissues.
- Eye coming out of the eye socketı (proptosis).
In mild traumas: The cat’s eyes are reddened and watered. It is also evident that she suffered in a way that is visible from her body movements and that she is in pain. If necessary, excess fluid in the eye is drained by taking her to the vet immediately.
It is treated with drops containing antibiotics, ointments, oral drops if necessary, medicines in the form of dragee that can be mixed with her food and painkillers.
In severe or multiple traumas: Your cat’s eye and surrounding area may be seriously damaged.
Generally, situations such as a foreign body adhered to the eye, a violent fight with another animal, an attack or a car crash can lead to this type of trauma.
Most of the time, surgical intervention or a complete eye removal may be required if necessary.
Treatment can then be extended with medication and care support.
The transparent corneal layer on the surface of the cat’s eyes also has a translucent texture.
Sometimes this layer loses its transparency due to infection, injury, dry eyes, or a purely anatomical anomaly. There may be a decrease in vision.
In severe cases, blindness may occur if necessary intervention is not performed.
- The eye surface (cornea) becomes a tissue that is cloudy with decreased permeability.
- Visible discomfort in the cat.
Light and initial ulcers can be controlled and even fully cured by using antibiotics taken orally, or with eye drops and painkillers prescribed by your veterinarian.
Advanced ulcers: Surgical operation may be required.
Glaucoma (Eye Blood Pressure)
Blockage in your cat’s tear ducts or eye veins for various reasons raises her blood pressure.
Glaucoma is a problem that needs to be taken very seriously and the underlying cause must be investigated and intervened by experts.
Early diagnosis and treatment often respond very well. In some cats, glaucoma can be genetic.
If not timely intervened, it can lead to blindness and even a complete loss of the eye.
- Redness in the cat’s eyes.
- Formation of a cloudy layer in the eye.
- In some cases, shape and tissue changes in the pupil (probability of tumor is investigated).
- Discharging (drainage) the liquid from the eye and drug support.
- Surgical intervention if eye pressure does not drop (Sometimes an eye may need to be completely removed.)
- In the case of tissue deterioration in the pupil, a biopsy can be performed to eliminate tumor suspicion.
Sometimes a cloudy layer forms at the center of your cat’s eyes.
And this tissue (cataract), which gets thicker over time, prevents light from reaching behind the eye.
It can cause poor vision or blindness in the future.
However, it is often confused with changes that occur with your cat’s advancing age.
The best method is to consult your vet when you encounter such a situation. If your cat’s age has not advanced much, cataract tissue can be removed by a surgical operation.
In this article, as a cat owner, I tried to share with you my animal-loving friends, the meaning of our little friends’ gaze as a form of communication, and the secrets of the great design of their eyes.
Of course, I could not help but mention the health problems our cat will possibly experience with her eyes.
The experience and knowledge I have gained over the years have taught me something very important:
Cats communicate with us through their gaze, body movements, purrs, and meows. These become their very own sentences.
Just because we are not always able to understand our cats doesn’t mean that they are not actually saying anything.
Aside from their usual behavior and anatomy, my everyday experience with my own cat shows me that each cat is a unique character.
I am sure that your furry housemate is also one of a kind with her own unique traits.
If you have any other ideas and suggestions on topics about cats, I would be happy for your participation.