Cats don’t have to resort to physical violence to be victorious in a conflict. They often use their most subtle and surefire technique in an opposing face-off – stare.
Cats interpret staring as intimidation and rivalry. This explains why when a group of friends visit your house, the person who doesn’t want to get too close to your cat might be approached by the little cat, while cat lovers waiting to meet your cat won’t get his attention . People who aren’t fans of cats tend to look away or not make eye contact with them. Cats don’t find this threatening. On the other hand, cat lovers love to look them straight in the eye, which makes them feel intimidated or threatened.
When cats are in rivalry, they first try to outwit each other. When one of the cats eventually looks away, it usually signals surrender. However, if prolonged staring doesn’t solve the problem, it may escalate to punching or wrestling on the floor while continuing to stare.
The dominant cat stares at the other cat until their opponent flees. Once they started staring at each other, they put everything aside to focus their attention. They remain in a high-voltage state until one blinks and walks away.
Cat owners are often encouraged to blink slowly or blink their eyes (e.g. sleep eyes) when looking directly at their cat. This sends a message that you are not a threat and they should not be alerted. However, cats always prefer their owners to look at them with their peripheral vision rather than staring directly at them.
Cats’ pupils narrow or widen depending on the light. They also use their students to communicate their moods to others. When a cat’s pupils are dilated, it conveys fear, mild to aggressive excitement. However, when a cat is angry, its pupils narrow into a line, which means it is ready to attack. The reason they constrict their pupils is to better focus on their rival and to protect their eyes in case of a physical fight.
When cats are relaxed, they tend to keep their eyes half open as if about to fall asleep.