Study Confirms That You Can Communicate With Your Cat By Blinking Slowly

Two experiments were carried out to investigate the role of the slow blink in cat-human communication.

Cats are stereotyped as being more aloof and independent than other pets. So you may not believe you need to work on improving your relationship with your cat. Now, according to a new study, you can bond with your feline by just narrowing your eyes and blinking slowly.

A new study, titled The ‘role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat-human communication’ has been published in the journal Scientific Reports noted that by narrowing your eyes, you can generate the equivalent of a smile for a cat, which according to the authors, makes the owner more attractive to their pet.ย 

Dr Leanne Proops, Associate Head at Department of Psychology at University of Portsmouth’s said in a release, “It’s definitely not easy to study natural cat behaviour so these results provide a rare insight into the world of cat-human communication.” She has also co-supervised this study.ย 

Two experiments were carried out to investigate the role of the slow blink in cat-human communication. In the first experiment, 21 cats from 14 different households participated. The first involved 14 different owners. 10 cats were male and 11 were female, with an age group of 0.45 to 16 years. The tests were carried out in each cat’s home. The psychologist counselled the cat’s owner on how to slow down his blinking. Once the cat had settled in one location, the psychologist asked the owner to sit a metre away from the cat.

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Both the owner and the cat’s faces were captured by cameras and the results were contrasted with how cats blink in the absence of human interaction. According to the findings, cats are more likely to be in no-interaction condition to slow-blink at their humans after their humans have already done so.

In the second experiment, 24 cats from eight different houses were considered. This time, the researchers, who hadn’t previously interacted with the cat, were the ones blinking instead of the owners. The cats were seen reacting to a no-blink scenario, in which people simply stared at the cats without batting an eye.

Dr Tasmin Humphrey, first author of the study, said in a statement, “In terms of why cats behave in this way, it could be argued that cats developed the slow blink behaviours because humans perceived slow blinking as positive. Cats may have learned that humans reward them for responding to slow blinking. It is also possible that slow blinking in cats began as a way to interrupt an unbroken stare, which is potentially threatening in social interaction.”

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