How Cats Use Their Eyes to Communicate

Friday, April 12, 2019 | 
Did you know a cat’s eyes speak their own language? Cats can be a mystery to many. Their aloofness and independence can make you feel uncertain of their overall mood and demeanor.
So let’s explore more of a cat’s eye language. Their eyes are one of the keys to understanding what they are trying to communicate. You will be fluent in cat eyes by the end of this article!

Young Woman holding two cats

Understanding Cat Eye Communication

There is a saying that eyes are the windows to the soul. For cats, eyes may not be windows to the soul, but they are windows to their overall mood. Cat communication can be both subtle and complex, so we are here to help break it down for you.
The Long Distance Stare

If you spot a cat exhibiting a long distance stare that cat is likely guarding its territory. It is letting others in the area know that this is their space and to think before trespassing. A cat may serve this look to another cat or pet in the home. It is an act of intimidation.

Direct Eye Contact

However, if a cat you are familiar with approaches you and makes direct eye contact, it is not likely a threat. If their eyes are wide open and they make direct eye contact with you, this can be a sign of trust and a display of comfort in your presence. However, if this is a cat you are unfamiliar with, you may make the cat nervous if you make too much direct eye contact too soon. They may read this as an act of aggression on your part and react accordingly. 

Narrowing of the Eyes

What does it mean when cats eyes are slits? Be cautious with this cat. Slit eyes can be the sign of fear or aggression. Squinting their eyes is a way to protect them from their target that may strike back. Be sure to read other body language of the cat though. There is a lazier narrowing of the eyes, or slow blink, we will talk more about later that is actually a sign of affection.
Reading a Cat’s Pupils

A cat’s pupils are another telltale sign of their feelings or mood. Cat pupil slits can mean a few things. When looking at a cat’s pupils, it is best to also consider the surrounding environment because there could be multiple meanings. 
An example is that dilated pupils can indicate a strong feeling, whether that is playfulness, fright, or aggression. Again, examining their surrounding environment can help you understand which emotion they may be feeling. 
Narrow pupils can be a sign of arousal, but this can be due to anger, fear, or contentment. It may also be a sign that your cat is about to strike. Consider other body language cues for a better understanding of the emotion your cat is expressing.
If your cats pupils are different sizes from each other, it may be best to consult a vet because the underlying cause could be serious.
Cat Blinking Also Carries Meaning

A cat slow blink can be a non-aggressive sign from a cat. Consider it a display of love, trust, and contentment. It means your cat is feeling safe and comfortable. A cat does not offer up this display to just anyone, so consider it an honor if you receive the slow blink. This action is sometimes referred to as a "cat kiss." You can return the affectionate sign by offering a slow, exaggerated blink back at your cat.
So take a little time and watch your cat’s eyes. You may find that you form a stronger bond with your cat by taking note of what they are communicating through their eyes. When you take a deeper look, cats are much more expressive than one may have originally assumed.