As humans, feelings of sadness, happiness, or anger can be easily recognised from one’s facial expressions. Your eyes are able to convey emotional information, and this is an ability that felines possess as well.
For example, during visits to vets, you might notice that your cat often shoots you a look that is different from their usual gaze. This could be a look that signals distrust, or perhaps even distress.
As a cat owner, it is therefore important to understand what our furry friends are trying to tell us so that we can keep them comfortable and happy. Here are what some feline eye movements mean:
Direct eye contact
Humans are taught that direct eye contact shows respect and attention. For cats, it’s a completely different story — direct eye contact shows a threatening nature. They don’t like to be looked at and it makes them feel self-conscious. If you stare too deeply into your cat’s eyes, it may see you as a threat and either retaliate or turn away. Avoid extended eye contact with your kitty and remove it from other cats if you notice them making prolonged eye contact, because a fight might be brewing!
Eye contact (with occasional blinking)
While direct eye contact is a sign of threat and ferocity, a cat blinking at you means that it trusts you. Your feline is breaking the eye contact — and the challenge that comes with it — with a soft and slow blink, to show that it’s not looking at you in a threatening manner.
This technique will come especially in handy for new pet owners. If you want to kiss or snuggle your cat, the best way is to pick them up without looking at them directly. Instead, slowly blink or squint your eyes!
A cat’s pupil size is dictated by both light and emotion. If it is bright outside, a relaxed and content cat should have pupils that look like slits. If its pupils are dilated and round though, then your cat is doing this either out of excitement or fear. One way for you to discern its actual emotional state is by observing its surroundings for anything that would cause this reaction, or any other body language cues that it may be providing.
If your feline is staying put and tensed up with a hunched back and tail just right beside it, it’s probably anxious about something. Perhaps you are at a vet, or a thunderstorm is raging outside — these are some environmental factors that could explain your kitty’s behaviour. In cases like these, you might want to reassure your furkid through distracting them with play, or showing physical affection.
Just like a blink, squinting eyes are your cat’s way of expressing their trust in you. It also means that it feels comfortable in your company. You should, however, make sure that there no symptoms such as red, inflamed eyes or discharge from its eyes and nose, as it can indicate that your kitty may have contracted conjunctivitis or the herpes virus. You should immediately schedule a visit to the vet in that case!
As mentioned before, the size of your cat’s pupils is determined by both light and emotion. When your cat’s eyes are wide open with pupils are slits, it could mean that it is aroused, which is primarily driven by anger, fear, or pleasure. You may notice this behaviour when your cat is stalking and tracking prey, or in an imminent fight with another cat or animal.
Even without words, your cat communicates its feelings with you each day. To foster a healthy and happy relationship with your feline friend, make sure that you’re in tune with its body language so that you can catch all the hints it’s trying to throw at you!