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It’s All in the Eyes: How to Learn the Meaning of Cat Eyes’ & Know What Your Cat Is Thinking

What Your Cat Is Thinking

Today we’re looking at the meaning of cats’ non-verbal communication: the eyes. Read on for facts about cats’ eyes as a way of understanding what they’re thinking.

Have you ever been innocently petting a cat when all of a sudden — WAP — they get you with their claws? What was that all about? You think as you dab the blood with a tissue. With their impassive faces and ability to hide pain, cats are famously hard to read, unlike dogs who are pretty transparent. When’s the last time you wondered if a dog was happy, sad or scared? Probably never.

Cats do not have expressive faces like dogs, and it all comes down to the fact that they don’t have eyebrows. That makes it a lot harder to tell the meaning behind your cat’s eyes. Like humans, dogs use eyebrows as a communication device. Call a dog’s name and up go their eyebrows. Call a cat’s name and they look at you as if to say, “Ugh, what do you want?” They aren’t really thinking this (we hope)  — it’s just that their faces don’t demonstrate emotion.It is theorized that cats have a small capacity for facial recognition, meaning they don’t really read our expressions. So while we can’t read their faces, they can’t read ours, either.

Want to know what your cat is thinking? Zero in on their eyes, specifically their pupils. Here’s how to read the meaning of your cat’s eyes:

Dilated Pupils

Dilated (large) pupils are another source of understanding the meaning of cats’ mysterious eyes, and often indicate an excited cat. It can also be a display of surprise or fear, depending on the situation. It is not unusual for a cat’s pupils to fully dilate when they are really excited.

Constricted Pupils

One of the most important facts about cats’ eyes to learn is this pose. Constricted pupils can indicate your cat is agitated or angry. If your cat’s eyes are big and round and their pupils are the size of pinpricks, it means they are preparing to attack a perceived threat. Watch out!

Squinted or Half-Closed Eyes

Squinted or half-closed eyes are a sign of affection, relaxation and trust. If a cat looks like they’re about to fall asleep, they’re relaxed and they trust you. Also, they’re probably about to fall asleep.

Fun fact: Cats also use their eyes to establish the pecking order. A dominant cat will stare into his opponent’s eyes, while a more submissive cat will look away from the dominant cat’s eyes, meaning they are choosing not to challenge the dominant cat’s authority.

Another fun fact: Cats also have a third eyelid that is scientifically called the “nictitating membrane.” If necessary, this third eyelid can cover and protect the whole eye. It is usually no more visible than a small white or pink sliver in the inner corner of the cat’s eyes. If you can see more than a sliver of the third eyelid this can be an indication that your cat is dehydrated or ill and may need to see the vet.

Try Blinking to Communicate

Still having trouble reading cat eyes? Meaning can be communicated with a simple blink! While humans and cats can’t communicate using our faces, we can communicate through our eyes. Try blinking your eyes at a cat. If they blink back, it means they trust you. See? You’re not invisible after all. So while they might ignore your voice, or sometimes your presence in general, they will respond to your eyes.


You can also try bonding with your cat with a LICKI brush. These brushes allow you to groom your kitty just like a mama cat.

Another Step Closer to Figuring Out the Unfigure-Outable Pet

We hope these facts about cats’ eyes helps you understand the meaning behind your cat’s long stares a little better. Try blinking at your cat today!