Have you ever noticed your cat giving you prolonged direct eye contact, then slowly blinking at you? Or perhaps they’ve done it and you’ve never really thought anything of it, so it hasn’t really stuck in your head. Nevertheless, now that we’ve told you about it, you’ll undoubtedly notice it in the future, and if you’re lucky you might see them do it on a regular basis. But many cat owners have been asking the question of “why does my cat slow blink at me?” for some time. Fortunately, there is an answer! And a rather nice one at that. Here, we have broken down the reasons why our feline friends like to slowly blink at their owners.
Understanding your cat’s behavior is something that comes with time. Some people might mistake the slow blink for a cat wincing to bright light or having something in their eye, as quite often they don’t close their eyes fully (they’re far too alert for that). However, the slow blink is quite unique in how it’s done. If you spend a period of time making eye contact with your feline friend, you’ll likely notice that they start to slowly narrow or blink their eyes at you (as if they’re beginning to nod off to sleep). They’ll then open their eyes again and continue staring back at you.
Research has actually shown that if human exhibits this same behavior towards their own cat, they have a high chance of getting a slow blink back.
Animal behavior takes a lot of time and effort to research before the reasons behind it can be explained. Fortunately, a recent study on reasons why a cat slow blinks has found evidence to confirm the suspicions of animal behaviorists around the world. A cat’s slow blink is the feline equivalent of a relaxed smile. It’s well known that many animals, including cats, use their teeth as a show of aggression, and so they have to find alternative ways to display comfort and affection.
Why Specifically a Slow Blink?
When a cat closes its eyes whilst maintaining relaxed body language, it is to communicate to you that it has complete faith that you won’t attack them whilst they have their eyes closed – it is a sign of trust and to show you that they feel safe in your presence. Which for an animal as vigilant as the cat is the highest honor.
Generally speaking, the cat owner is the only one entitled to being slow-blinked at. Blinking slowly is a sign of trust and comfort around a person. It should therefore not be assumed that they will be happy to do this to just anyone. Strangers will more likely get an unblinking stare to begin with, as they’re likely going to be viewed as a threat – at least until the cat has made up their mind about them, which can take some time.
The cat blink is not always a sign of affection. Of course, there are the usual explanations such as squinting their eyes in an attempt to limit the amount of light they are receiving if they’re in a particularly bright environment – you may see this when your kitty is sitting in the window and the sun shines into their face.
Cats also might blink in an unusual manner such as one at a time, or winking with one eye. This is likely a sign of discomfort. It could be that they’ve got some debris in their eye, or loose fur tickling it. Furthermore, it could be a sign of a mild infection setting in.
So if your cat seems to be blinking in an unusual manner, meaning in a way that catches your attention as it’s not something they would ordinarily do, it’s well worth taking them to see your veterinarian, just to get them checked out. Monitoring your pet’s health is first priority before assuming it’s simply normal behavior.
As comical as it might sound, cats can exhibit severity and aggression through blinking as well. Strange humans are not something cats like to deal with, and so you should never approach a cat you don’t know without a clear indication from them that you are welcome.
Cats are naturally curious creatures, though they are also very wary alongside that curiosity. If the cat is blinking rapidly, or scrunching its face up as if going to hiss as you whilst blinking, it can be a sign that they feel threatened by you. If you notice a cat doing this with you it’s best to give them some room and let them come to you in their own time.
Other Signs of Cat Affection
Understanding cats can be a bit tricky considering they are highly complex creatures with many small nuances in the way that they act. Adding to this, cats are generally perceived as cold and aloof, but this is far from true. There are certain behaviors that can be linked directly to affection.
It’s worth noting that some cats show affection in an attempt to keep you from leaving them. Fortunately, there are ways of recognizing if their behavior is a result of separation anxiety as well as ways to help soothe your feline friend, should it start to become a problem. Many veterinary practices will also offer help if your cat is struggling with anxiety.
Besides slow blinking, your cat will have a variety of ways in which they can show you how much they love being your pet. In fact, if you pay close attention you’ll notice that cats show their love in much the same way as dogs, just with less tail wagging and jumping.
Pressing their head against you
Purring, trills, chirps, and meows
Sleeping or resting on you
Bringing you gifts (much like a dog brings you a toy)
Tapping you with their paw when you are within reach
Greeting you with their tail straight in the air with a kink at the top
These are all ways in which your cat shows you how much they care about you! Should you notice this behavior with your cat you can take solace in knowing they love you very much and you’re doing a good job making them feel loved in return.
How to Read Your Cat’s Body Language, Fetch by WebMD
Study Confirms ‘Slow Blinks’ Really Do Work to Communicate With Your Cat, Science Alert
Top Tip: Understanding cat blinks!, International Cat Care
How Cats Show Affection, World of Animals at Bensalem