Note: Pet Educate is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

Why Do Cats Close Their Eyes When They Eat Or Drink?

Have you ever noticed your cat closing its eyes while it eats or drinks?

I’ve seen my cats do this quite often, so I spent time discussing it with veterinarians and researching it.

Cats have some unique behaviors that may seem peculiar to us humans.

But many of their actions have an underlying reason.

Closing their eyes during mealtime is one of them.

So today, I’d love to share what I have learnt about this behavior to help put your mind at ease.

Why Do Cats Close Their Eyes When They Eat Or Drink?

Cats close their eyes when they eat or drink because it helps them focus their senses on taste and smell. Closing their eyes allows cats to concentrate without visual distractions, and may also be an instinctive behavior stemming from their ancestry as solitary hunters who needed to protect themselves while eating prey.

To Focus Their Senses on Taste and Smell

Cats have an excellent sense of smell and taste, which they rely on heavily when eating.

Closing their eyes allows them to concentrate on these senses without distraction from their vision.

Their taste buds and olfactory receptors become ultra-sensitive when their eyes are closed.

This likely helps them fully experience the flavors and aromas of their food or water.

Instinctive Behavior from Their Ancestry as Hunters

The act of closing their eyes while eating may originate from the time when the ancestors of domestic cats were solitary hunters.

When catching and eating prey in the wild, they needed to protect themselves from potential dangers during their vulnerable eating time.

Closing their eyes helped block out surroundings so they could focus on listening for approaching predators.

This instinctive behavior to close their eyes when eating passed down even as cats became domesticated.

To Avoid Visual Distractions

Eating with eyes open can provide visual stimuli that is distracting or overwhelming for cats.

Closing their eyes allows them to avoid any excess visual input and fully focus on the food or water.

This blocking of visual distractions likely helps them be more present in the eating experience.

They Feel Happy, Content and Safe

When cats are in a relaxed state and feel secure in their environment, they may naturally close their eyes to express their contentment.

Eating is an enjoyable experience for cats, especially if their human has provided the food.

A cat closing its eyes during mealtime may just be an outward sign that it is in a serene, satisfied state as it enjoys its food.

Since cats only display this vulnerable behavior when comfortable, it can signify that your cat trusts you and sees its home as a calm, loving place.

When To Worry If Your Cat Is Closing Their Eyes While Eating

If Eye Closing is Accompanied by Other Symptoms

It’s normal for cats to occasionally close their eyes while eating.

But if your cat’s eye closing is paired with other symptoms like squinting, tearing, pawing at the eyes, or redness, it could indicate an eye issue requiring veterinary attention.

If Your Cat Seems to be in Pain

Cats may close their eyes when in pain or distress.

If your cat is closing their eyes more than usual while eating, watch for signs of pain like vocalizations, altered grooming habits, aggression, or changes in litter box use. Have your vet examine your cat.

If Your Cat Has Vision Trouble

Sudden onset eye closing or excessive blinking while eating may signal your cat is having difficulty seeing.

Causes can include age-related vision loss, eye injuries, or underlying illness. Consult your vet to pinpoint the reason for vision impairment.

If it is Accompanied by Appetite Changes

Eye closing while eating paired with appetite changes like decreased interest in food or reduced chewing can indicate dental disease, nausea, or other medical issues.

Schedule a veterinary visit to identify the cause of appetite changes.

If Your Cat Seems Detached

Pay attention if your cat seems detached or unaware while eating with closed eyes.

Along with other neurological signs like head tilting or circling, it can point to neurological conditions requiring veterinary assessment.

What Other Times Will a Cat Close Its Eyes?

While Being Pet or Brushed

This shows they are enjoying the positive attention and touch.

It demonstrates trust and bonding.

When Relaxing or About to Sleep

This helps them unwind and signals they feel safe to take their eyes off their surroundings.

To Show Affection

Slow eye blinking is a social cue cats use to say “I love you!”

If your cat looks at you, slowly closes its eyes, and opens them again, it’s blowing you a feline kiss and expressing affection!

To Mask Displeasure

Rapid eye closing or narrowing may indicate a cat is annoyed, overstimulated, or angry.

It’s an attempt to disguise their irritation and avoid confrontation.

When in Pain

Eyes partly or fully closed along with other signs like altered posture or behavior can mean a cat is in pain or unwell.

Any prolonged eye closing warrants a trip to the vet.


Cats are fascinating creatures of habit, as the ritual of closing their eyes while eating demonstrates.

We may never fully understand all of our kitties’ quirks and behaviors.

But paying attention to actions like this can give us insight into how cats experience the world using their unique feline senses.

While cats closing their eyes during mealtime is usually nothing to be concerned about, if it is accompanied by other symptoms or behavior’s then something could be up.

So stay vigilant, observe closely.

But if all else looks good, enjoy this as just another cat quirk!

Related guides you may want to read: