Eye contact: the difference between cats and dogs

Most animals can look at other animals and humans in the eyes. Pet animals do. However, there is a difference, in general, in the way cats and dogs make eye contact with humans.

A cat makes quick, fleeting eye contact with a human. A cat looks at a human in the eyes and then looks away quickly, and then may look back again. This is known as a ‘less intrusive glance’ or a fleeting glance. 

A cat generally does not hold a stare at a human. Instead, it makes a lot of short glances, less than one second long. A cat will often close its eyes to avoid eye contact or look slightly to something else instead of making direct eye contact.

A dog makes long gazes at their human owner, looking straight into the human’s eyes. A dog can stare at a human in the eye for a second or longer.

Scientific researchers have studied the way cats and dogs look at humans. A recent research was at the University of Rennes in France.

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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