Cats talk to us all the time and in many different ways. They show a range of emotions, make demands, and train us with body language, sounds, and more. For a brief on common ways our feline friends talk to us, check out our piece, Cat Communication: Are You Listening? Now we’re going to focus on one of the most affectionate ways cats communicate with us, the slow cat blink.
The Feline Slow Blink
Not sure what this looks like? The slow cat blink is a globally documented signal from cats to their guardians, humans they’re bonding with, and other fur-babies. While our feline friends can look like they have unblinking owl eyes or nearly undetectable blinks, when they are expressing something specific, they may blink a little more slowly. It’s considered non-verbal communication through body language.
What the slow blink looks like. A regular blink is just a like a human blink. It spreads tears across their eyes to help keep their vision clear and eyes healthy. When our cats look right at us, not in our direction, but actually make clear eye contact, they are getting our attention and saying something. With normal-sized pupils, not dilated for play or restricted in response to bright light, kitty will slowly blink. In most cases, he or she will blink slowly, several times in a row.
What the slow blink says. Well, it says many things, but they all amount to “I love you.” Our feline friends are often mysterious, but this is one of those messages that is clear and easy to translate. Cats can seem like they are strong and powerful hunters, but they are also small and vulnerable, making them prey. The very act of covering their scent in the litter box comes from the biological need to hide their scent from larger predators. When they slow blink, they are showing that they are relaxed enough to close their eyes around us for extended periods. They are indicating contentment. And they are showing that they trust us.
How to catch the coveted slow blink. For those of us who haven’t been gifted with the trust and affection of our cat in the form of a slow blink, there are a few things to know. First, staring is not how we get our cats to slow blink at us. Staring is perceived by most animals, including cats, as adversarial. Second, know that not all cats slow blink. While the message is consistent among those who do slow blink, some cats prefer other communication methods, such as rubbing on us, rolling onto their back to expose their belly, licking, and head bunting. Lastly, it’s essential to recognize that the slow blink is a sign of trust, which requires some effort at bonding.
How to earn and return kitty affection. One of the reasons cats can seem so mysterious is because they aren’t as keen on doling out affection as many fun-loving dogs are. Instead, we need to earn their trust. One of the worst ways to do this is to pick up or pet our cats without an invitation. It’s true. Some feline friends will invite loving sooner than others, but affection is permission-based. So, try a kitty handshake first. This entails holding out a finger to their nose. If they ignore us, we can try again later. If they sniff us, we can attempt to pet them. If they rub their face on our finger, we might pet them and even try to pick them up, if they are okay with petting. When they want to get down or move away from us, the important thing is to let them. This shows that we aren’t going to force affection and is a sign of respect. Over time, we will have built trust, and we’ll see a different side of Ms. Kitty Fantastico, like affectionate communication. We can also choose to bond with kitty in a number of ways. Playtime is one of the best ways to bond, build trust, and get to know each other. For those who have already broken the trust with their cat, it’s okay. Take a step back and try some of these methods moving forward. And it’s always a great idea to slow blink at kitty. With this simple action, we are both, avoiding staring and offering our own message of safety and trust.
Treats are also a great way to build trust and bond. EcoTreats are nutritious, low-calorie, and all-natural. They’re delicious to cats and are a wonderful way to reward good behavior or encourage playtime. Try EcoTreats all-natural wild-caught, sockeye salmon filet bits. They are a favorite among cats and are a great way to help kitties associate positive, delicious rewards with their guardian.
The slow blink may be a coveted form of kitty communication, but it’s not the only ways cats tell us they love and trust us. Try some of the methods mentioned to bond and build trust. Watch for the right moment and the right message, then be sure to return that affection. Learning to communicate effectively with anyone can be rewarding. Establishing shared meaning and an understanding with our fur babies, particularly our cats, can be some of the best moments we have with them.