a cat with closed eyes

Why do cats slow blink?

Have you ever heard the saying “dogs have owners whereas cats have staff”?! Well, while cats might appear more aloof than dogs, they are quite as capable of showing affection – you just have to know what to look out for! Cats usually show more subtle displays of affection than dogs, but that’s not to say it means any less! If your cat has ever gazed into your eyes and blinked slowly at you then you should feel privileged. This is one of your cat’s ways of demonstrating his love.

If a cat blinks slowly at you, it means that he is completely relaxed and comfortable with you. When a cat slow blinks, his eyes are shut for longer than they are open, meaning that he is more vulnerable. The slow blink is your cat’s way of saying that he trusts you to look after him.

So, what’s the science behind the slow blink?

A normal cat blink is a rapid closure of the eyelids followed by a slightly slower opening of the lids. It is a reflex movement that doesn’t require any thought from your cat whatsoever. The slow blink, however, involves both the closing and the opening of the eyelids at a slower pace. This is significant because it means that the slow blink is an intentional action – in other words, it requires conscious thought from your cat.

Survival instinct will tell a cat to keep his eyes open for as much of the time as possible. When his eyes are closed, he is more vulnerable to attack from predators. This means that your cat will only choose to slow blink when he is completely relaxed and feels safe.

You can reciprocate!

Did you know, you can return the slow blink to your cat? The next time your cat is relaxed and slowly blinks at you, try blinking back in the same manner. You might find it the start of a conversation! Even if your cat doesn’t return the gesture, this is still a way in which you can communicate with your cat and show affection.

You can even try and elicit a slow blink from your cat by initiating the gesture. You are more likely to succeed if you try this when your cat is relaxed and settled. Remember not to stare though, as this might be interpreted as confrontational behavior by your cat and make it feel threatened.

Cats will also slow blink at other cats whom they feel relaxed around, and sometimes even dogs, particularly if they spend a lot of time together at home. Again, it’s a gesture of acceptance and their way of showing that they are happy in their company.

Other ways of showing affection

Not all cats will slow blink, so don’t feel disappointed if yours doesn’t. Just look out for one of the many other ways that it might demonstrate love. Head-butting, licking your hand, and rubbing their head against you are among the many ways in which a cat might express affection. Here’s a few more:

Belly rubs

Some cats demonstrate their trust in you by rolling on their back and exposing their belly. While some cats might enjoy a belly rub, most cats are not inviting you to stroke their tummy when they do this, so beware of those claws before you reach out for a stroke!

Tail strokes

A definite sign of love! You can consider a tail stroke as the equivalent of a loving hug in the cat world. If you want to lean more about how cats communicate with their tail, have a look at this article.

Conclusion

While a cat’s emotions might be harder to read than some other companion animals, it doesn’t mean that they are any less affectionate. By learning a little about their body language, you can begin to interpret what your cat is trying to tell you. The slow blink is one way in which your cat demonstrates that he feels relaxed and safe in your company. So, the next time your cat slow blinks at you, feel proud that you can read his body language and take it as an “I love you” from your cat.

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