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Why Does My Cat Watch Me Sleep? And Should I Be Worried?

So, you’re fast asleep, snoring the night away and dreaming about some of the most exquisite things you wish to accomplish. And as is always the case, your sleep is interrupted by the urge to use the washroom.

But as soon as you open your eyes, you encounter the eyes of your cat staring back at you. Then questions begin to race through your mind as you wonder what your cute little friend could be up to. Is the cat just happy cuddling next to you or is it up to some sinister motives?

Like most pet parents, you’ll find yourself wondering, why does my cat stare at me while I sleep?

The most logical answer to that question is that the cat likes you and feels at ease hanging around your bedside.

Remember that cats are only second to dogs in terms of their adoration for their human friends. Your feline friend could be so endeared to you that it cannot fathom leaving your presence, even for a moment. As such, the cat finds it comforting to snuggle by your bedside throughout the night, watching you sleep.

But as you shall find out, there are numerous other reasons that could cause your feline friend to give you those creepy stares. Read on to learn more.

Cats Express Affection Using Their Eyes

One of the most commonly asked questions by pet parents is, my cat watches me in my sleep and it’s creepy, what does it mean and what should I do?

As we’ve already highlighted, one of the main reasons your cat is staring at you while you’re asleep is because the cat loves you.

Cats have their own ways of expressing their love and adoration for their owners, and eye contact is one of them. Your cat will make good eye contact with you as an indication that it feels comfortable, safe, and secure being next to you.

In some instances, the staring may also be accompanied by winking, blinking, or slow shutting of the eyes. It’s all part of the cat’s way of expressing its undying admiration and affection for you.

cute cat lying on bed

Other Reasons behind the Night Stares

The following are some more reasons why your cat could be staring at you while you sleep.

1. Cats Are Nocturnal Animals

Unlike humans, cats are nocturnal animals. Or, more particularly, crepuscular animals. That means they’re mostly active at dawn and dusk.

This is the time your cat will go on the prowl or try to play so as to release its pent-up energies. And while humans have domesticated cats for thousands of years, these animals haven’t completely shed off most of their intrinsic habits.

But since this also happens to be the time when you’re least active, the cat will find no reason to prance wildly in the house. Instead, it will crawl by your side and stare directly into your eyes as one of its way of whiling the night away.

2. Your Cat Is Watching Over You

Cats view their owners as one of their family. In your cat’s eyes, you’re part of the pack, and members of the pack often look out for each other.

You must also remember that eye contact is one of the ways cats socialize amongst themselves. So, to the cat, staring at you comes naturally.

And the fact that you’re sleeping with your face pointed towards your cat only serves to strengthen the bond and encourage the behavior.

So, you could have been wondering, what does it mean when my cat watches me sleep? Well, your feline friend is just being protective.

3. The Cat Wants Attention

Cats are notorious for their attention-seeking behavior. And since a cat is naturally programmed to stay awake at night, it will cuddle by your bedside, not necessarily to sleep but to try and have your attention.

During the day, when you are more active, your cat would seek your attention by meowing or head-butting you. But as you lie motionless on your bed, the cat may try to get your attention by simply staring at you.

According to the cat, you’re awake and attentive, so it sees no reason to head-butt or meow at you to ask for what it needs.

young cat on bed

4. Cats Have Great Vision

Cats have better vision than humans. A cat’s eyes have between six and eight times more rod cells than humans do, which makes their eyes highly sensitive to light.

Therefore, a cat requires only a small amount of light to see, which explains why these animals have a near-perfect vision in dimly-lit conditions. Of course, humans excel cats in terms of resolution, which means that our eyes are more efficient at processing images.

But how does excellent vision relate to staring at their owners at night? As a cat’s eyes are so sensitive to light, it won’t make much difference to them whether it’s day or night.

The residual light in your house at night is all that the cat needs to see everything happening around the house. So, for the cat, the room appears just as bright at night as it is during the day.

5. Hunger

Hunger has a way of making us do ridiculous things at night. You can hardly have a good night’s sleep on an empty belly, and the same holds true for cats. A hungry cat is a restless one. It will move frantically around the house sniffing through stuff to try and locate food.

But if the cat cannot find any food, it will retreat to the owner and begin begging for it in the only way it knows how. That ranges from meowing to staring at you in the eyes. Always ensure that your cat gets enough food before bedtime.

6. Anxiety

Like humans, cats also suffer from anxiety-related disorders.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common forms of feline anxiety. This condition develops when you live with a cat but are always gone, subjecting the animal to extended periods of loneliness.

It’s worse if you never give the cat due attention even when you’re around. Separation anxiety mainly manifests in stress and depression, restlessness, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. And prolonged staring into your eyes could be symptomatic of feline anxiety.

7. Boredom

So, your cat isn’t anxious or angry but for some reason, it still watches you while you sleep. The chances are that the cat is bored. This takes us back to the crepuscular nature of cats and the importance of tiring them before night falls.

A bored cat will resort to some of the most mischievous behaviors when you’re asleep. It could gently snap at your face, pull on your bedding, or simply sit still and look at you in the eyes.

You can easily fix this problem by ensuring the cat gets enough physical stimulation before bedtime.

Cute Red Cat
8. The Cat Is Frightened

Cats are hypersensitive creatures, especially at night. And since they have a profound sense of hearing, even the faintest sounds could frighten them. That could range from the noises made by cars hooting on the freeway to falling cups in the house next door.

The cat might have also spotted a threat in the dark, such as a serpent. When a cat is so frightened that it can’t confront the threat, it will look straight into your eyes as a way of seeking affirmation.

9. The Cat May Be Interested In Your Pillow

This is one of the most ridiculous reasons why your cat might be watching you as you sleep. While their love for pillows is largely inexplicable, there are a couple of theories that may help to demystify this love affair.

First, the fluffiness of your pillow is sure enough to wow your cat. Cats are fond of soft and fluffy things, as these tend to be more comfortable and easy to play with.

Another theory is that your pillow may be way too conspicuous on the bed. For instance, if the rest of your beddings are in earth-toned colors but the pillow is red, the cat may take an interest in it.

While cats are typically color blind, research shows that they have a special liking for red, orange and bright green colors.

Lastly, the shape of your pillow could also draw your cat to it. Remember that cats are naturally taken by round and spherical shapes.

The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat

10. The Cat Is Asleep

You may have observed that even when your cat is sound asleep, it never fully shuts its eyes. In fact, most cats prefer to sleep with their eyes wide open.

While that may come across as odd, it’s actually an effective defense mechanism. Cats may sleep with their eyes fully open to appear deceptively alert and on guard.

Are You Inadvertently Promoting The Behavior?

If you’ve always wondered to yourself, what does it mean when my cat watches me sleep, we hope that you have your answer from the elaborate explanations above.

But perhaps, we should also mention that at times, there could be no apparent reason at all. Cats have a way of looking blankly at the wall, other cats, or into space.

So, even if none of the above reasons help to explain why your feline friend gives you those creepy stares at night, just know that it’s part of their nature to gaze at objects blankly.

Cute Black and White Kitten
Most importantly, you may have been inadvertently encouraging the habit. For instance, if you allow your cat to sleep with you on the bed freely, you shouldn’t complain if you wake up to those prying eyes.

Secondly, you should remember that cats have a strong prey drive, and those predator instincts may kick in depending on how you sleep.

Tossing and turning throughout the night, as well as snoring loudly could trigger your cat’s prey drive. As a result, your feline friend might choose to stay and give you the stare that’s typical of a cat ready to pounce on prey.

And if you readily offer your pillow to the cat to play with, the cat will always come begging for it every night. There are also the reasons of omission, such as failing to feed your cat well at night or inadequate stimulation.

What Can You Do To Remedy The Situation?

Like most pets, cats hate being stared at, as that’s usually a sign of aggression. But that mostly applies to other cats. When it comes to humans, staring into the eyes of your feline friend is perfectly fine. Just ensure you’re giving the cat a soft stare, and not one that it might find threatening.

Red cat at home in Christmas time

However, you’ll likely hate the sight of a cat staring into your eyes more than the cat will. While these furballs are cute, the last thing we want is to wake up to some dilated pupils fixated on us. So, how do you address this behavior?

First, you need to nip it at the bud. That means you should stop the habit from developing in the first place, and there are a couple of ways to go about that.

1. Offer enough stimulation

Cats are playful creatures. If they don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation, they may resort to undesirable, even self-destructive behavior.

You won’t always be around to play with your cat. However, ensure that the cat is entertained even in your absence. You can invest in automated toys, window perches, cat videos, and puzzle feeders to help your furball expend its pent-up energy.

You could also get your cat a scratching post. Anything that safely helps the cat release its energy is acceptable.

2. Provide enough food and water

One of the most grievous mistakes you could ever make is to go to bed with your cat hungry or thirsty.

Thankfully, you can buy an automatic feeder for your feline friend as then, the cat won’t have to wake you up each time it needs to eat or drink.

3. Don’t reward the behavior

You may be tempted to give the cat food or pet it each time you discover it’s staring at you. However, doing so only reinforces the negative behavior.

Even if you suspect the cat is hungry, begin by pushing it away, so that it understands you don’t like the habit. Then, after the cat has calmed down, you can feed it or otherwise address its grievances.

4. Keep the cat from your bedroom

This is the surest way of preventing the cat from watching you while you sleep. But it may not work if the cat is hungry, as it will pester you with its persistent meows across the room until you act.

Besides being proactive, you could also train the cat to help it break this undesirable habit. However, this will work best with kittens than adult cats.

So, Why Does My Cat Like To Watch Me Sleep?

As we’ve seen, there are a couple of possible reasons for that. The onus is on you to uncover the underlying cause behind this behavior. It’s only then that you can adapt the right remedy.

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