Shy cat

Q. My cat lets my friends pet her, but when they make eye contact with her she will leave the room quickly, as if she has been insulted. But she seems to enjoy making eye contact with me. Is this normal?

A. It is for your cat, since there’s a range of normal when it comes to the kind, and amount, of eye contact a cat will tolerate. Some cats don’t like any eye contact at all, while others don’t mind it, even from strangers. I’d guess that where your cat falls on this line is pretty common: She has learned to accept and return affection by sharing glances with you, but considers such efforts by strangers to be an invasion of her “personal space.”

Looking everyone straight in the eyes when introduced is a human trait that other animals don’t care for unless they’ve learned to enjoy sharing loving looks through being close to us. Instead of looking boldly at your cat, why not tap into feline body language to lock looks the way cats prefer: Start unfocused, eyes half closed and then blink slowly. Many cats will return the gesture with a “kitty kiss.”

Your cat’s behavior with people rude enough to stare provides one possible explanation for why cats often head toward the only person in the room who doesn’t like them: Because that person is probably the only one who isn’t looking at the cat.

More on Vetstreet: