Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and see your cat staring right at you?
Cats that seem cute and cuddly during the day can definitely look a little freaky and ominous when they spend a bunch of time staring at you during the middle of the night.
This behavior often leads to concerned owners joking about their cats making nefarious plans to steal treats, wake up their owner, or take over the world. The real reason behind this quirky cat behavior is actually far more innocent.
Your cat is probably just watching you because it likes you.
Interested in learning more about the motives behind a cat staring at you as you sleep? Keep reading to get a fascinating insight into how your furry friend thinks and behaves while you are sleeping.
Why Is Your Cat Wide Awake at Night?
The first thing to remember about your cat staring at you at night is that it is not quite as bizarre as it might seem.
We tend to give cats human personalities and motives, and it would definitely be weird to have a human roommate who was wide awake and staring at you in the dark.
However, for cats, this sort of behavior is actually fairly reasonable. As veterinarian Jennifer Coates says, cats are essentially nocturnal animals.
Being awake in the middle of the night is just as normal for them as being alert in the middle of the day.
Another important thing to consider is just how incredibly sensitive cats’ eyes are. They can see almost anything even when it is extremely dark.
It might feel different for you to have something watching you in the dark, but for your cat, the room is probably just as bright as day.
Is There a Main Reason Your Cat Is Watching You?
Every cat is different of course, but most cat behaviorists like Dr. Kathryn Primm agree that cats are usually staring at you because they feel closely bonded to you.
Cats view their humans as part of their family group, and watching family members closely is part of how cats socialize.
Your cat gets a sense of calm from knowing you are near them. Even while you sleep, having your face turned towards your cat can make them feel like they are reinforcing this familial bond.
Looking at you is also a way for your cat to monitor your behavior. Because it cares about you, it naturally wants to check up on you and make sure you are alright.
Cats see sleeping as a time when their family members are vulnerable, so they want to be nearby to protect you from any potential dangers.
Are There Other Reasons Your Cat Is Watching You?
Of course, it is sweet to think about your cat lovingly watching over you at night, but not all cats are the same.
The most likely reason your cat is watching you might be that they care about you, but there are always some other potential causes for this behavior.
Your Cat Is Anxious
A cat that is glued by your side all night might be doing this because it feels insecure. If your cat is a new or scary environment, it probably wants to be close to you.
Since you make it feel safer, your cat might be staring at you with plans to wake you up if it notices anything freaky happening.
Your Cat Is Hungry
Your cat might be coming into your room to look at you because it wants to know when you are going to get up.
Since many people feed their cat’s first thing in the morning, many cats sit and watch their human sleep as a way of impatiently waiting for you to give them food.
Some take it a step farther and try to stare at you until you feed them. Many cats have learned that entering the room and staring at their owner or sitting on their owner’s chest is enough to wake up their human.
Your Cat Is Bored
Cats love observing the world around them. IHeartCats explains that cats can resort to “stalker-like” behavior when they want to check out something that they are curious about.
During the day, this usually takes the form of your cat sitting by the windowsill watching the neighborhood. However, at night, you might be the most interesting thing around.
It is hard to tell what is going on inside a cat’s furry little head, but there’s always a chance it finds something about you being in bed fascinating enough to make it check you out.
If there’s nothing else happening in the house, you might be your cat’s form of entertainment for the evening.
Does Your Behavior Make Your Cat Stare At You?
Your cat might not be getting all the ideas for its weird behavior on its own. There are a few different things you may be doing that are encouraging your cat to stare at you while you are sleeping.
If you are moving around a lot, you might be triggering your cats’ predator instincts. Something like fingers twitching under a blanket might make your cat think there is a mouse nearby for them to catch.
Strange noises, like snoring or talking in your sleep, might also increase your cat’s interest in you.
What Are Cats Trying to Communicate By Staring?
An interesting thing to keep in mind when your cat is watching you sleep is that different types of staring communicate different things.
Cats often use eye motions to socialize with others, so your furry friend might be looking at you to try and convey an emotion.
According to Dr. Karen Becker, staring can be a way for a cat to show affection. If it is looking at you with its eyes half-closed and slowly blinking its eyes, this is basically your cat saying “I love you.”
This type of interrupted stare is your cat deliberately telling you it trusts you enough to take its eyes off you.
A stare with pupils dilated and no blinking is a less cute reason for your cat to be staring at you in the middle of the night though.
Ingrid Newkirk explains that this means your cat is trying to watch you closely and potentially attack you. Of course, your cat’s intention is not actually hurting you, but it may have plans to pounce on you and start a play fight.
Can You Stop Your Cat From Staring While You Sleep?
Now that you know a lot more about the reason for your cat being creepy at night, you can rest assured that it’s not staring at you while it considers ripping out your throat.
However, even if the behavior has harmless or even sweet motives, some pet owners still do not like it. There are some things you can do to address the problem.
The first thing to do is to make sure your cat is not hungry or thirsty. Get it an automatic feeder to keep it from trying to get you to wake up and give it food at random times.
Avoid feeding your cat right after it wakes you up to keep it from reinforcing this negative behavior.
Another solution is just keeping your cat out of your bedroom. This can be a little challenging because some cats will cry outside the door and pester you.
It normally works better with younger cats who are more amenable to training. Try to give positive attention when your cat stays outside your bedroom and ignore it when it scratches at the door.
You can also diminish staring by giving your cat something else to do. Some toys it can bat around or a scratching post can provide valuable stimulation.
Another good option is an automated toy it can give your cat something to do while you sleep.