“Why do cats close their eyes when they eat?”, you think to yourself as you watch your fluffy friend scoff down another one of those Fancy Feasts. She’s a curious creature and she’s been blowing your mind for months and months (from the moment you rescued her).
Oh, she’s been making you rethink everything you thought you knew about cats. Why does she knock things down whenever she’s trying to get your attention, for example? You’re there and you’re looking at her. But, she doesn’t seem to care enough to stop when you give her the “Never to that again!” look.
And, why does she do the “elevator butt” thing when you’ve demonstrated to her that ladies don’t do such things?! Oh and, why does she look at herself whenever she passes by your bedroom mirror when she knows she’s terrified of the pawsibility of hanging out with another cat?
As a pet parent, you’re used to reevaluating everything anyone has ever told you about caring for your precious pet. You’re used to asking questions nobody wants to answer. You’re used to spending your Friday nights looking up “Why do cats scratch their butts?” and “Why do cats play with dead bugs?”
So, there’s no surprise you’re hanging out with your fluffy friend on a Saturday night wondering “Why do cats close their eyes when they eat?”
Well, you came knocking at the right door considering the fact we have the answers to your neverending questions. But, have you not been aware of the fact that cats have a secret “peepers language?”
Cats communicate with whatever medium they have, and they don’t shy away from using their eyes to send messages. Oh, you know everything about your cat, but what about your cat’s language?
Cat communication methods – What do cats communicate with their eyes?
Oh, a bunch of things! As a matter of fact, when you’re asking yourself “Why do cats close their eyes when they eat?”, you’re looking at the answer right there and then.
“Oh, they’re trying to communicate something?” More often than not, cats are communicating with humans (and other cats) by using the means that they have – meows, purrs, and body language.
Maybe they’re happy to eat the tiny turkey bites you’ve presented on the plate. Maybe they’re protecting themselves from rogue bones and shards. Or, maybe they’re sleepy because they’ve spent the entire day running around the backyard, knocking things down, and causing trouble.
Whatever the case might be, what do cats communicate with their eyes when they aren’t keeping them closed? From asking for attention to warning you about a pending attack, your cat’s eyes give you the scoop on everything.
Before anything else, you might be familiar with the “Oh, I love you more than anything!” look. That’s the look your fluffy friend gives you when the two of you are snuggling together and meowing about how you can’t live without each other.
And, you might have had the opportunity to see the “Nice to meet you, stranger!” look when you met your neighbor’s cat for the first time or when you traveled to Turkey (the promised land of kitties galore). That’s the equivalent of the famous “puppy eyes”, but much cuter ( that’s our humble opinion).
Oh and, we can’t forget about the notorious “I’m about to scratch the eyeballs out of your head!” look your fluffy friend has graced you with on more than one occasion. That’s the look that’s followed by the arched back, the ears glued to her head, and the demonic sounds coming out of her snout. Ouch!
Why do cats close their eyes when they eat?
“But, why do cats close their eyes when they eat?”. Oh, there’s a bunch of reasons why and we’re bringing you every single one of them. As a matter of fact, cats close their eyes when they’re doing other things, too. And, each of those things carries a meaning that deserves your time of the day.
And, which things are we talking about? Grooming, petting, stretching, and napping seem to be the most common situations that make your fluffy friend close her eyes. On one hand, cats close their eyes while you’re brushing and grooming them to communicate how they’re feeling. They’re happy, safe, and secure.
On the other hand, cats close their eyes while they’re stretching because they’re comfortable and because they get a sudden rush of endorphins whenever they do that. Let’s be honest here, we close our eyes when we’re stretching and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Circling back to the question from the beginning, “Why do cats close their eyes when they eat?”, take a look at some of the reasons that might help you understand your cat’s communication antics. And, when you see your fluffy friend napping while eating, ask her for tips on how on Earth she manages to do that!
1. Because they feel safe and secure
What better time of the day to relax than the time you spend munching on delicious foods!? When your furry friend closes her eyes she’s communicating that she feels safe and secure. And, she doesn’t feel the need to watch her every step, because she knows she can count on you to keep her safe.
“Oh, that’s why she closes her eyes when we’re snuggling!” That’s right! She might close her eyes because she feels herself falling asleep.
She might also close them because she doesn’t feel like she needs to be on alert while you’re holding her. She doesn’t feel like she needs to watch her back or watch what you’re doing.
And, when she closes her eyes while she’s eating, she feels the same way. She’s a predator; which means she should have her ears perked up and her eyes peeled on the food, waiting for someone to attack her and try to steal whatever she’s munching on.
But, you’ve earned her trust and she doesn’t feel the need to do that. She can take as much time as she needs to enjoy her Fancy Feast, destress, and unwind. She’s a precious purrincess and she deserves to be treated as such. Congrats to you for stepping up and making her feel as comfortable as you do.
2. “OMG, this tastes good!”
Remember that feeling you had while you were sitting in your favorite restaurant munching on the most mouth-watering Spaghetti Puttanesca you’ve ever had? Or that rush of endorphins you had when your best friend took you to try your first ever (authentic) French crepes? Or that overwhelming reaction you had to your first Starbucks coffee?
Chances are, you closed your eyes as you felt the flavors melting on your tongue (TikTok reference, check!). And, there’s a pawsibility that’s exactly why your cat closes her eyes while she’s eating. She’s savoring every moment she can with those paw-licking turkey bites.
Oh, that means that she loves the food you feed her. But, that also means she’s comfortable while eating with you, too.
Cats are always looking for signs that someone (or something) wants to attack them. They’re always alert because that’s the only way they could survive the wild (even though your munchkin’s not in the wild).
3. Because they’re protecting the peepers
“Why do cats close their eyes when they eat!? I can’t stop looking at my feline friend while she’s munching on Meow Mix or slurping on Friskies Pate because she makes the funniest faces and sounds! But, I can’t help but notice she closes her eyes every. single. time!” No reason to freak out, buddy!
Cats are curious, but they’re also pretty protective of their own health and well-being. Chances are, your fluffy friend closes her eyes while nibbling on different foods because she’s protecting her eyes. Have you seen the ways she eats? Cats aren’t necessarily known for their dining etiquette, are they?
And, you might think to yourself “Why would she need to protect her eyes from a couple of drops of sauce or a crumble of kibble?”. But, cats need to protect their eyes while eating because that’s what their predatory prowess suggests. They’re protecting their eyes from bone shards and other sharp tidbits.
As a matter of fact, you might want to keep an eye on your cat because eye wounds can be pretty dangerous. She might display symptoms such as pawing at the eye, eye discharge, swelling, and inflammation of the eye. Contact your vet and check whether you have any reason for concern.
4. Because they’re protecting “the third eye”
“Wait, what? My precious purrincess has three eyes?! She’s not a demon, how’s that possible?” Don’t worry, your fluffy friend hasn’t crossed over to the dark side. But, that’s not to say that she doesn’t have something resembling a third eye, or a third eyelid.
That’s right, in addition to the upper and the lower eyelid, cats have a third eyelid known as the nictitating membrane. We can’t really see it because it’s hidden and retracted (we shouldn’t be able to see one at all).
But, there are situations in which the third eyelid appears – when your cat’s sleepy and tired, when she’s suffering from an eye disease, or when she’s stressed out. And, there’s a chance that your cat closes her eyes when she’s eating to make sure nothing damages her third eye.
(Oh, the same way her third eye makes sure nothing damages the cornea!)
5. “Oh, I can’t… keep my eyes open…”
When you’re wondering why cats close their eyes when they eat, don’t forget about the fact that most humans close their eyes when they’re tired and sleepy. And trust me, cats are tired and sleepy for the most part of the day. Come on, cats sleep twelve to thirteen hours a day!
Oh and, cats sleep even more when they’re kittens or when they’re old! They need beauty sleep (how else would they be so purrfect?!). But, they also need to restore energy and cause trouble when they wake up. Not to mention that cats don’t sleep twelve to thirteen hours at once!
Cats take short naps. It’s normal for them to struggle to keep their eyes open while munching on their third breakfast. “But, shouldn’t she be rested after that many naps?”. She should (and she probably feels great after each one of them), but that’s not to say she doesn’t need a moment to wake up.
And, you might even notice other signs that she’s sleepy. She might start funnily chewing her food, eating smaller portions, dropping her head into the bowl, and falling asleep while she’s munching on a chicken wing. Make sure you don’t wake her up, though!
6. Because they don’t eat with their eyes
“Why do cats close their eyes when they eat? They can’t even see the food they’re supposed to eat. And I can’t stop thinking about the fact that they don’t seem to care! Why do they do that?” Oh, the sooner you realize your four-legged friend makes strange sounds and does odd things without a reason, the better.
And, cats don’t really need their eyes when they’re eating because they have whiskers. Oh, and whiskers might be one of those things that make us say something along the longs of “Oh, you’re adorable, I want to squish and squeeze your little face!”
But, these antennas have a function other than attracting pet parents. Whiskers are pretty much sensory equipment that helps your fluffy friend navigate through different daily tasks. From hunting, running without hitting anything, moving from place to place, to eating – whiskers do the thing.
Oh trust me, whiskers are much more than accessories for your fluff.
So, she might decide to close her eyes while eating simply because she can. Her whiskers touch the plate of food and send signals about where the food sits, and how much of the food she has left. And, the little whiskers around her mouth aren’t even the only ones she has!
7. Because they feel threatened by another cat
Oh, you forgot to mention that Mrs. McFluffer has brothers and sisters! Closing her eyes while she’s eating makes that much more sense. Chances are, she’s not feeling the fact that other cats are eating from the same spot.
Eating aggression (or food aggression) can be quite a problem to solve, even when she gets along with other cats on other occasions.
And, don’t worry, aggressive behavior among cats seems to be pretty normal (and pretty common). Some of the most common causes of aggression stem from fear, stress, and health problems.
And, we can’t forget about the most crucial one out of the bunch – the way you went about socializing and introducing your cat to together cats in the household. Cats can become aggressive when they don’t know each other or when they feel threatened. Oh and, cats don’t want to share food with other cats.
So, make sure you schedule an appointment with your vet to check for health problems or signs of stress. And, don’t forget to contact a behaviorist that can help you work through your cat’s food aggression. Keep your cats away from each other while the process takes place.
8. “Ouch, there’s something in my eye!”
Eye problems and eye diseases might be one of the most common reasons why your fluffy friend closes her eyes when she eats (or does anything else, for that matter). Maybe a chunk of food brushed her eye while she was eating, or a bone shard punctured her eyes (ouch).
Or, maybe she’s suffering from an eye condition you haven’t discovered because you kept holding off the appointment thinking it’s nothing. And, your furry friend might close her eyes while eating because she’s protecting them or she’s threatened by another cat.
But, more times than not, she’s communicating that there’s something wrong with her eye.
First thing first, make sure you look for other symptoms of eye disease to make sure you’re on the right track. Redness of the eyes, swelling of the eyes, discharge oozing out of the eyes, the appearance of the third eyelid, pawing at the eyes, sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
What a list, right? And, these symptoms can be quite tough on your furry friend which means she might also show signs of pain, discomfort, and fatigue. Some of the causes of eye disease and eye infections are calicivirus, feline herpes virus, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers.
Contact your vet the moment that you notice any of the symptoms. Don’t try wiping her eyes with chamomile tea or banking on other home remedies. As a matter of fact, most home remedies and over-the-counter medications aren’t strong enough to clear out most eye diseases.
And, don’t worry! While eye diseases aren’t a pleasant experience for your furry friend, they aren’t dangerous. Keep your kitty happy and healthy with good hygiene, healthy foods, and regular visits to your vet – and keep a close eye on her eyes.