It’s up there as one of our all time favourite cat behaviours, the slow blink. Locking eyes with your lion to receive the ultimate owner gratification, the slowest blink on earth. That blink that stops time and makes you realise you couldn’t love that floof more if you tried. But what does science tell us is behind this adorable behaviour?
Many animal experts over time have concluded that the action is to signal the feeling of safety and acceptance. That around you they feel safe and they just want to let you know – too cute. To us it might seem like a simple act, but to your cat, they really are letting you know that you are their whole world and no doubt they expect the gesture returned. Here in the Republic we like to play the game in rounds with our kittens, an endurance competition to see who can be the last man (or beast) blinking.
We’ve all got those friends who just ‘aren’t cat people’ – we use the term friend loosely in this instance, as can you really be friends with someone who doesn’t obsess over cats like you do – but it’s the same friends that usually use the argument that cats aren’t affectionate. The slow-blink is here to prove them wrong. Though they might not jump around like an over-the-moon excited puppy every time you come home, most of the time rarely even bothering to glance up from a nap, the subtle but strong slow-blink is all the affection you need as a true cat person. A teeny tiny ‘I love you’ from across the room when no-one’s looking. Be sure to do it back so they know you feel the same.
Another similarly cute expression of feline love is kneading (also known as – making muffins, kitty acupuncture or happy paws). Their tiny little toe beans get to work massaging their owner, usually at the thoughtful time of 2am, the perfect time to share the love but with a guarantee nobody else will find out to keep up their frosty exterior. Only cat owners know the truth.
And don’t just take it from us, the science really does back it up. Research published in The Journal of Physiology proves that cats purposely slow down their blinks when directing this heartbreakingly cute behaviour towards their human. It’s more than just a natural reflex, they’re really out here trying to intentionally share the love. Though veterinarian technician Ellen M. Carozza writes in the American Association of Feline Practitioners that these happy and confident cats do expect the loving glare to be returned and may even be doing it as a way to catch your attention, staying true to their sneaky, introverted and yet endearing nature.
How to slow blink for beginners –
1. Turn to face your cat calmly.
- Slowly close your eyes, almost as though you’re falling asleep – the slower the better.
- Gradually reopen them and then immediately look away, too much eye contact and you’ll creep them out (this goes for humans too).
- If you’ve got this spot on, expect a snail’s pace blink back in return.
- Go one step further and slowly extend your hand after the eye contact is broken, if your cat is catching your vibe expect plenty of nuzzles and head rubs.
Though we’ll never truly know what’s going on in their little kitty brains (we have arguments for both absolutely nothing and total world domination) it fills our human hearts with joy to think that our little cuddly companion feels safe and loved in our presence, and has a need to show it in their own shady way – the perfect cat’s kiss x