A Cat Can Communicate With You by Blinking Very Slowly, According to Scientists

In comparison to dogs, cats have a reputation for being a little distant. But if you find it challenging to develop a relationship with your feline buddy, it's possible that you just don't speak their language.

It's actually not that difficult, according to research. Simply give them more smiles.

not smile in the human way, showing your teeth, but rather in the feline style, with narrowed eyes and a slow blink.

The act of slowly blinking causes cats, both familiar and unfamiliar animals, to approach and be receptive to humans, according to a study published in 2020 that involved observations of cat-human interactions.

When the study's findings were released, psychologist Karen McComb of the University of Sussex in the UK said, "As someone who has both researched animal behavior and is a cat owner, it's amazing to be able to show that cats and humans can interact in this way."

"It's fantastic to have uncovered evidence for something that many cat owners had already thought," the researcher said.

Cats frequently display a "partially closed eyes" facial expression when slowly blinking, if you've ever been around them. When puss is at ease and satisfied, it usually happens similarly to how human eyes narrow when they smile. One interpretation of the expression is a feline smile.

Anecdotal evidence from cat owners suggests that humans can mimic this expression to show cats that we are approachable and willing to interact. In order to find out whether cats reacted differently to slow-blinking humans, a team of psychologists created two tests for the study.

In the initial trial, 21 cats from 14 different houses were slowly blinking at by their owners. The owners were told to sit about a meter away and slowly blink whenever the cat looked at them after the cat had become comfortable and settled in one location in their home.

In order to compare the results to how cats blink in the absence of human interaction, cameras were used to capture both the owner and the cat's faces.

In contrast to the no-interaction scenario, the data showed that cats are more likely to slow-blink at their people once their humans have already done so.

24 cats from eight different houses were a part of the second trial. The researchers, who had never interacted with the cat before, were the ones blinking this time instead of the owners. The cats' reactions to a no-blink scenario—in which people stared at the cats without blinking—were recorded as a control.

In addition to adding an extended hand toward the cat, the researchers repeated the slow-blink procedure from the initial experiment. They also discovered that the cats were more inclined to approach the person's hand after the human had blinked, in addition to being more likely to blink back.

The function of slow blinking in cat-human communication has never before been experimentally investigated, according to McComb's study.

"Additionally, it is something you can test out on your own cat at home or with cats you encounter on the street. It's a wonderful way to strengthen the connection you have with cats. Try to smile at them with your eyes narrowed like that, then try to briefly close your eyes after that. They'll respond similarly to you, and you can then engage them in a dialogue."

Cat lovers may not be surprised by the slow blinking phenomenon, even though dogs are much more fervently demonstrative than cats.

Recent studies have revealed that our feline friends are much more attuned to their human housemates than was previously believed and that comparing them to dogs is unfair.

If you find cats standoffish, it might be a problem with you rather than the cat. Cats, for example, respond in kind to humans who are receptive to them.

Similar to how people mirror one another's personalities, cats do the same, which may explain why they seem to sense when their human companions are depressed. They can recognize their names as well. Additionally, their connections to humans are surprisingly strong.

It's unclear why cats slow-blink in this manner when they see humans. Since cats are believed to perceive unbroken staring as threatening, it has been theorized that it serves as a way of communicating good intentions.

However, considering how well-received the expression is by people, it's also possible that cats invented it. It can frequently be difficult to determine with domesticated animals.

It appears to aid in developing a rapport in either case. And it's wise to be aware of that. Learning how to strengthen our bonds with these mysterious creatures may also help them feel better emotionally, not just at home but in a variety of other potentially demanding circumstances.

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