We all know that cats are curious creatures and that is a big part of their appeal. In fact, some of their weirdest traits can be totally endearing. But these are felines we are talking about, and so chances are, there is something quite specific behind their strange habits.
And one such quirky cat trait is known as the ‘slow blink’. This can be quite subtle, but it is also thought to be a quite deliberate form of kitty communication. But exactly what does it mean when a cat slowly blinks?
We try to decipher what your cat is trying to say when they slow blink at you and what you should do in return.
Feline Body Language
Understanding a little more about feline body language and their facial expressions can shed more light on the concept of the ‘cat slow blink’ and what it could mean.
Cats have numerous ways of communicating, not just with their own kind but also with their humans. And while many of these expressions and actions can be interpreted by many cat owners as affection, most are actually linked to their basic needs, such as food. So, when your feline friend follows you around the house, for example, or tries to knead your flesh with their paws and claws, they are demanding something, rather than showing an emotion.
Direct eye contact with a cat is a little more complicated because in animal behavior it can be interpreted as threatening or direct confrontation, especially if it is prolonged. And even when two cats are affectionate and comfortable in each other’s company, they will still try to avoid direct eye contact. This is passive behavior as they want to avoid staring being misinterpreted as a challenge. Instead, you may see a cat briefly look at another, then slowly blink and look away, to show that they pose no threat.
But animal behaviorists also believe that cats are capable of showing affection, but these often-subtle signs have to be rooted in trust.
The Slow Blink
Your cat may start to make more prolonged eye contact with you if they feel safe and comfortable in your presence. As a cat owner, this is a real compliment as it means your furry friend really trusts you. So, eye contact can be seen as a form of affection.
A cat blinking slowly takes this idea further. But you really do need to look out for it.
Blinking is not unusual in a cat and is a reflex action similar to a human. A cat will rapidly blink to keep their eyes hydrated, spread out tears and flush away any dirt and debris. This is their normal, regular blink.
A cat’s slow blink has a different vibe. When they blink slowly, your cat’s eyes will be relaxed, and you may also see a gentle flutter of their eyelids. The cat’s slow blink is also leisurely and can include half blinks, or full closure of their eyes.
Another important thing to note in the slow blink is that your cat’s pupils will remain a normal size and won’t dilate or open wide. As well as a reaction to bright light, dilated pupils are a sure sign that your cat is anxious or fearful.
The overall look when cats slow blink is that of a relaxed squint that’s totally on your cat’s own terms and shows he’s not concerned about his immediate environment or anything in it. And most interestingly, a cat’s slow blinking is not a reflex response but an intentional action. Let’s look at what your cat’s slow blinks are trying to say.
What Slow Blinking Means
If you notice your cat looking at you, this is not a look of disdain but is one of the ways cats communicate. And it is more likely a sign of trust, feeling safe, and affection. Slowly blinking is the opposite of a direct stare, which represents aggression. And by slowly closing their eyes when looking at you, they are letting you know that they trust you and know you are not a threat.
The slow blink also sees your cat’s eyes fully closed for longer than normal, meaning he feels safe enough in your company to make himself vulnerable. Soft, relaxed eyes when cats blink also signify that they are happy and content. Think of it as the feline equivalent of a relaxed smile!
A cat may also do a slow blink towards another family cat, to show they are relaxed in their presence.
Can you get a cat to slow blink?
It is possible to get your cat to slow blink, as long as you send them the right positive messages. And you also need to be able to read and understand your pet’s body language, so you know when he is content and relaxed.
To instigate a slow blink in your cat, sit a few feet away from them and slowly close your eyes, before slowly opening them again. Repeat several times without staring too hard or intensely at your pet. Maintain a soft and relaxed position and don’t make any sudden movements, so your cat can pick up on your chilled and happy vibe.
If you are lucky and he is in the right mood, your cat may start slowly blinking back – what you have done is told him you feel safe and happy in his company, and he is returning the feeling!
Another good tip is that if your cat starts slow blinking on his own accord, try to gently mirror the action by slow blinking back to reinforce the message.
Other ways your cat can communicate affection
Not all cats are into the slow blink so it’s important to never force them to respond. Instead, be aware of the different ways your pet will let you know that they trust and love you. With felines, other non-verbal signs include:
A cat needs to feel safe and relaxed if they are to make themselves vulnerable so if your kit rolls over and displays their tummy, this is a compliment indeed. It also means they want your attention, so if they are relaxed enough, feel free to go in for a gentle tum rub!
Their tail positions
A sure-fire indicator of your cat’s state of mind, how they hold their tail is an excellent way to know if they are happy and relaxed. A soft relaxed body and a highly held tail are a sign of affection and confidence in your company. And if they curl their tail around your legs, you have a very happy pet. However, a tail tucked between a cat’s legs can indicate they are anxious.
Also known as ‘bunting’, your cat is showing their trust and affection if they rub their cheeks against you or seem to want to headbutt you in a friendly way. With bunting, they are also laying out their territory scent, so marking you as theirs! Now that is love.