Cats have habits that are often fascinating and difficult for us to figure out. Much of their body language seems to hearken back to a time when they were living in the wild. However, are their wild instincts still that much of a factor as domestic pets?
Why do cats close their eyes when they eat?
Cats often close their eyes when eating to protect their eyes, to show enjoyment in the food they are eating, and to show that they feel relaxed and calm while eating.
This video demonstrates cats feeling at ease while eating, with the cats having their eyes closed at least part of the time.
How Do Cats Protect Their Eyes by Closing Them When Eating?
According to Modi Ramos, writer at Cattitude Daily, domestic cats are obligate predators. They are a species that require meat to live.
Even though cats today are mostly indoor pets, they still retain thousands of years’ worth of predatory instincts. Their much larger wild relatives hunted their prey in conditions that included flies and debris that could irritate their eyes.
One thing to bear in mind is that, despite a cat’s small size, its teeth allow them to tear flesh and bones easily. Modern cats may receive most of their nourishment from bagged and canned food, but instinct tells them that they are eating animal flesh.
Domestication has made cats need us to provide their care, but we must remember that the instincts they have inherited are still about survival. When you see a cat closing its eyes while eating, you will appreciate the survival instincts it has received.
How Are Closed Eyes a Sign of a Cat Enjoying Its Food?
Although cats have a reputation for being fussy eaters, The Cat Vet disputes this common belief, emphasizing the eating environment instead.
One of the things that many cats enjoy is having a lot of constancy with their routines, including eating. For most cats, if fed food that they enjoy, you can trust them to keep eating it regularly. They are not as fond of variety as people.
When a cat closes its eyes while eating a meal, it is showing a sign of contentment. Even though the food came from a bag or a can, eating something that tastes good gives a cat the same satisfaction level that comes from hunting a preferred type of prey.
Eating a meal in the presence of its owner or other household cats provides a sense of happiness. Think of how you feel when you enjoy a meal with family members or friends that you enjoy spending time around. A cat likely has a similar feeling at meals.
Does a Cat Close Its Eyes During a Meal Show Relaxation?
According to Tuxedo Cat, cats are showing that they feel safe and happy. Think of how often your cat closes its eye when you’re petting it.
Your cat’s eyes being closed while eating show that they are at ease and are not on the watch for constant threats. Cats are predators but have also evolved to protect themselves from becoming prey. Closed eyes show that the cat feels safe around you.
You may have noticed that your cat closes its eyes while grooming. This occasion, like mealtimes, is another occasion where the cat feels safe and may even try to unwind. When your cat is already in a state of relaxation, it will relax even further.
Cats have inherited a long history of being hardwired to react to threats, even though the threat level faced in your home is minimal to none. Seeing your cat feeling comfortable enough to close their eyes while eating shows that they feel safe.
Will Cats With Closed Eyes Feel Threatened by Other Pets?
Food-related aggression is a common and very real concern in households with multiple pets. Many dogs try to steal food from a cat, and other cats will often try to take another cat’s food. There are reasons for this behavior, however frustrating.
MeowSpace cites survival instinct as a reason for compulsive overeating in cats. Wild animals have a fear of going hungry that may lead to overeating, even taking another cat’s food.
Disputes over food that happen in households with multiple cats seldom lead to serious injuries. These disagreements usually get sorted out but can be unpleasant to listen to. If the cats fight constantly, you may need to separate them when eating.
If any of your cats require special food, consider making sure they eat separately. Feeding in separate locations will help reduce fighting and the cat with special dietary needs from ending up malnourished.
When your cats share a home with dogs, hostility over food may happen if the dog does not respect the cat’s boundaries. Although a cat will sense a dog approaching while eating, the cat might not see the dog as a threat and may allow its food to get stolen.
How Do Cats Find Food in Their Bowls With Closed Eyes?
According to Burgess Pet Care, cats use their whiskers to get a feel for things that are close to them and while eating.
Domestic cats have sharp distance vision but poor near vision. Their whiskers help them tell more about what they are eating because the whiskers contain so many nerve receptors. Because of this sensory system, they can enjoy food with closed eyes.
Although a cat is unable to make out fine details, they will recognize their bowl as the place where their food is very easy. The sense of touch that their whiskers provide and their taste buds will let them know what they are eating.
Worth noting is the fact that even blind cats can easily find and enjoy their food. This fact is proof that seeing the food is not necessary for a cat to get the maximum enjoyment from it. Vision is one of the senses with less of a role in eating.
Why Are Cats Protective of Their Eyes?
According to Jane A. Kelly, Catster writer, cats have some unique features that help their eyes work the best for their needs.
Because cats’ eyes are particularly sensitive, they have an instinct to protect them from flying debris, flies, and bits of bone from prey. Although cats don’t experience these threats eating commercial cat food, their instincts still play a role.
Remembering that cats have evolved as predators helps us understand why cats are protective of their eyes. Their eyes are at the front of their heads, making it easier to encounter flying debris or objects head-on.
As cats are unable to remove objects that get into their eyes themselves, protecting their eyes is a better strategy. Although closing the eyes during eating does not remove every threat, the chances of injury in this setting are reduced.
What Can We Learn Over from Cats’ Closed Eyes at Mealtimes?
Eating is as much of an experience to be enjoyed for cats as it is for people. In many cases, closing the eyes while eating is protective. A cat may also demonstrate contentment and relaxation by eating with its eyes closed.
Although it is reasonable for owners to be concerned that cats may be leaving themselves vulnerable to other pets, most cats can manage this situation well enough. Domestic cats have excellent sensory systems that work well with closed eyes.
Seeing your cat closing its eyes while eating may seem unusual, but it is very typical. You have no reason to have concerns when your cat does this.