Why do cats stare?

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Cats are known to stare at you, at the world outside your window, at the wall, and sometimes at nothing. Cats are curious observers.

One of a cat’s most prominent features is its eyes. This eye feature has given cats a reputation for staring, making them perhaps the most photogenic species on the Internet:

Cats’ eyes are very large compared to the rest of their bodies.

Cats blink about two times per minute, while humans blink about 15 to 20 times per minute.

Cats have different vision than humans. Cats are more nearsighted than humans. The average human visual acuity is 20/20, which means that when taking an eye test, one must see the same detail that the average person sees at a distance of 20 feet. A cat’s visual acuity is 20/100 to 20/200. This means that the details that the average person can see at 100 to 200 feet away can only be seen clearly by a cat at 20 feet away. What we can see clearly at 30 meters away is only dimly visible to a cat.

What cats lack in vision, they make up for with other advantages.

Cats can see one-sixth as much light as we can because they have more optic rod cells in their retinas.

Cats have a field of view of 200 degrees, compared to 180 degrees for humans. Cats can see the movement of the tiniest insect or dust particles up close. Combined with their excellent peripheral vision, cats can easily stare at things that we would not notice.

Cats adapt to human habits and use human signals to obtain information. Cats not only notice the human gaze, they follow it.

They listen to everything.

Why do cats stare at walls and seem to see nothing? Actually, there is a lot going on inside the walls. If walls could talk, they would tell you that there are countless pipes and conduits hiding there, and they would also tell you that insects and other creatures might take up residence.

Have you ever noticed that cats can sense that someone is at your front door before you can? Cats have much sharper hearing than we do. Because of the extra muscles and shape in their ears, they are able to pinpoint and amplify sounds. They can hear the rustle of leaves, the sound of small animals running around, people walking and talking outside, and even the tiniest sounds of everything going on inside and outside the fence.

Hunting requires patience.

Cats are curious and learn by observing their world. In a 2005 study, “Caregiver Perceptions of ‘Recreational’ Behavior in Indoor Cats,” published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, animal behaviorist Melissa R. Cheyenne-Norwald concluded that indoor cats spend an average of five hours looking out the window They concluded. hours looking out the window.

Outside cats also show this remarkable patience when searching for food. If you have ever watched an outdoor cat hunt, you will marvel at their innate ability to stare at something until the perfect opportunity presents itself and they pounce.

They love you.

If you have ever tried to make eye contact with an animal at the zoo, you may have noticed that many wild animals do not reciprocate. Some animals take eye contact as a threat or a challenge. Many animals interpret a person staring at them as a sign of aggression.

Only domesticated companion animals gaze into the eyes of humans. It is not surprising, therefore, that this feature of the human-animal bond has attracted the interest of researchers.

After reviewing a number of studies, researchers at the Laboratory of Human-Animal Interaction and Reciprocity at Azabu University in Kanagawa Prefecture have concluded that although cats are solitary hunters and dogs are pack animals, the relationship between these two species and humans is now very similar. Both dogs and cats adapt to human habits and use human signals as information. Cats notice the human gaze and actually follow it.

In the future, cats may acquire more canine-like abilities, such as more consistent and expressive eye contact: a review of recent studies and future directions,” the researchers wrote in their paper, “Dog/Cat and Human Eye Contact: A Review of Recent Studies and Future Directions.

The studies they reviewed suggest that “dogs and cats have unique adaptive communication that may underlie their mutually beneficial coexistence with humans.”

Cats will not stare at someone they fear or dislike. So when a cat stares at you, take it as a sign of trust and love.

Susan Logan McCracken March 18, 2022

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