Why Do Cats Close Their Eyes When They Eat?


why do cats close their eyes when they eat

A cat has a wide range of expressions and physical body cues that indicate how a cat is feeling and what a cat is thinking. Watching these motions can give you an inside view of the secret language of cats. These animals may twitch, lunge, purr, or even close their eyes from time to time.

Cats close their eyes while they are eating because they are relaxed. Your pet knows it is secure and can eat in peace without threat from other animals. A cat will also close its eyes while eating to protect its eyes from debris and dirt from its food that could damage its eyes.

Another reason why a cat closes its eyes while it eats is that your cat may simply enjoy its meal. Closing the eyes could indicate the cat likes the taste and flavor of the food. A cat closing its eyes while eating is a good sign your cat is relaxed. Luckily, cats don’t need to keep their eyes open to see their food but instead rely on their whiskers to act as taste buds, pointing the cat toward the food.

Is My Cat Simply Relaxed?

A cat will close its eyes while eating for several reasons, but the main reason is that your cat is simply relaxed and enjoying a good meal. When a cat feels safe, it will close its eyes, knowing it does not have to protect itself from potential threats or predators. Although cats are highly social, cats may always risk having their dinner poached by another animal. Your cat closing its eyes as it eats is comfortable and confident enough in its safety to close its eyes and continue eating in peace.

Remember, it is essential to encourage your cat to remain at peace while eating. Try to keep mealtimes quiet and calm and keep any potential threats, like other animals in the house away from the food bowl. Cats rely heavily on their valuable nutrition from daily meals, so a full and relaxed mealtime is essential for ongoing health and wellness.

What Other Times Will a Cat Close Its Eyes?

A cat closing its eyes while eating is a good sign it is comfortable, but cats will close their eyes to show comfort in other situations. It is common also to see a cat closing its eyes in different situations, such as:

  • Grooming – Whether a cat is grooming itself, being groomed by another cat, or being brushed by a human, the sensation of a brush running through the fur is a good feeling. Cats will often close their eyes while being groomed to show they are happy and relaxed.
  • Petting – While your pet is at rest on your lap, it is common to see your cat shut its eyes as it enjoys the time bonding with you. Cats may also purr and sigh to further show their contentment and appreciation.
  • Nap Time – A cat that is just about to doze off will often sit comfortably for a few minutes, observing its surroundings. Although the cat is not fully asleep, it may simply close its eyes to relax and simply listen to the noises in the room.
  • Stretching – Cats will regularly stretch to communicate to other cats they are comfortable and secure. Stretching also can release chemicals in the body that induce relaxation and calm. A cat will commonly close its eyes while it stretches, simply enjoying the good feeling.

What Other Signs Show Your Cat Is Relaxed?

Having a calm and relaxed cat means it feels safe and secure and is comfortable with you as an owner. Seeing your cat close its eyes while it eats is a good sign your cat is relaxed. Observing your cat, you may also notice other signs of relaxation such as:

  • Kneading – A cat will often push at your lap or blankets with its front paws in a kneading motion. Related to what cats will do as kittens, this is usually a sign your cat is happy and relaxed.
  • Purring – Vocal cues from your cat can indicate relaxation. A cat may softly purr or even sigh when it is at peace and relaxed. Purring is a great sign your cat is comfortable with you.
  • Side-Sleep – Cats can be vulnerable if left exposed, especially when their underside is left open for attack. A cat that sleeps on its side or its back is a sure sign that it is happy and safe in its home. Cats that sprawl out on their back, exposing their stomachs know nothing in the house can harm them, so it is safe to relax.
  • Tail – A cat with a gentle, swaying tail wag is happy. The slow and rhythmic sway is a way for a cat to tell you it is relaxed. However, short twitching tail motions can be a sign of anxiety or uncertainty.

Does My Cat Think The Food Tastes Good?

A cat closing its eyes while it eats could also be telling you that it likes the food it is eating. When a cat eats the same food day in and day out, they can become bored of the same flavors. Adding a different variety of food or adding a topper can help increase your cat’s interest in food.

It is not uncommon to see a cat close its eyes while eating, especially if it is given a special treat. Big cats will also close their eyes while eating in the wild, particularly if they track down a large or rare kill.

Is My Cat Trying to Protect Its Eyes?

Although domesticated cats are quite content living in a secure house with a plate of food handed to them daily, they are still closely related to their wild ancestors. In the wild, cats will close their eyes while they are eating to protect their eyes. 

Prey animals have dirt and debris, and eating animals exposes sharp bones and spraying blood that could get into the cat’s eyes. Further, wild animals attract flies that could fly into the cat’s eyes while eating.

At home, your domesticated house cat still mimics these same behaviors and may close its eyes while eating to protect its eyes. Although your pet cat isn’t likely to feast on an antelope for dinner, it does need to protect its eyes from potential spray or debris coming off the food. Your pet may be enjoying its meal, but it may also be closing its eyes to keep them safe.

Why Is Protecting the Eyes Important?

Cats rely on their senses to keep them safe. These animals have incredible reflexes and hearing but rely on their eyesight. These animals can see extremely far into the distance and have excellent night vision. They need their eyesight to see potential prey and potential approaching predators. Your cat’s eyesight is vital to survival, so protecting them is essential.

How Can Cats See to Eat With Their Eyes Closed?

It is common to see your cat eating with its eyes closed, which may call into question how they can see their bowl. Cats can see distances extremely well but have very poor eyesight when viewing objects up close. At close range, cats will rely on their whiskers to help them feel and “see” the world around them.

When a cat closes its eyes to eat, it can still “see” its food, just not in a traditional way a human would look at its food. The whiskers touching the food can act as taste buds, alerting the cat to the type of food it is eating. Even blind cats can locate and identify their food from their whiskers and close their eyes while eating to show happiness.

Related Questions

How well can a cat see?

Cats rely on their eyesight to find food and keep themselves safe in the wild. Compared to a human, who can see a 180-degree view, cats can see a more comprehensive 200-degree range of view. Plus, they are better at seeing in low light due to their increased number of rod cells.

However, cats can’t see as many colors as humans, and scientists believe they can only see gray and blue hues. Plus, cats are phenomenal at seeing into the distance but struggle to see objects up close.

Could a cat with closed eyes be sick?

Although a cat will close its eyes to show it is relaxed and enjoying a good meal, there may be negative connotations associated with a cat closing its eyes. Your cat may be sick or suffering from an eye infection.

Further, a cat with closed eyes may have an eye injury such as a scratch, cut, or abscess. Closed eyes could also indicate your cat is overly tired and isn’t getting enough sleep throughout the day. Or, closed eyes are a common symptom associated with an upper respiratory infection that a veterinarian should immediately treat.

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Our team is composed of pet care professionals, veterinarians, and pet owners. To date, we've conducted thousands of hours of research to publish the most accurate pet information. Most of the writers on our site are vets with 10+ years of clinical experience, ranging from small practice, to equine practice, academia, and surgery. Our goal is to help every pet owner get the information they seek about their dear companions.

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