Study Shows That “Slow Blinks” Can Help You Tell Your Cat You Love Them

Cat Slow Blink

Photo: Stock Photos from DENIS VAL/Shutterstock

The renowned author Charles Dickens once mused, “What greater gift than the love of a cat.” Many cat owners consider themselves lucky to be the favorite human of their feline. But how can tell your cat you love it? Dogs recognize the words “I love you,” but a recent study suggests that cats prefer a different type of communication. To communicate positive feelings non-verbally to your pet, humans can use slow blinks like those of a happy cat. These slow blinks can usually be observed in happy or content cats. The study found cats responded in kind with the same behavior and were more likely to be friendly to strangers who used this mode of communication.

The feline behavioral study by psychologists at the Universities of Portsmouth and Sussex comprised several separate experiments. Firstly, 21 house cats were tested with their respective owners within their own homes. Each owner was trained in a slow-blinking technique. Staring at their relaxed pet, the humans started the eye-narrowing movements. Video recordings of these interactions were compared to a control set of cats left alone. The cats who received slow-blink communications were more likely to exhibit the same behavior, suggesting they responded happily to their human's suggestion.

The second experiment tested 24 cats with human strangers. During one take, the humans stared unblinkingly at their feline subjects while holding a hand out in welcome. Then, the slow blinks began, also with a hand stretched out towards the cat. Even with a stranger, the slow blinks elicited a happier response. The cats responded with their own eye-narrowing movements and approached the communicative strangers.

Published in Scientific Reports, this study builds on a growing body of research suggesting cats have a stronger emotional bond to their humans than was formerly supposed. Their frosty exteriors mask modes of communications (such as slow blinks) that humans have yet to fully comprehend. Try slow blinks to build and reinforce a positive, loving relationship with your furry friends.

A new study shows that slow blinks (like those of a contented cat) can serve as loving communication between owners and their pets.

Cat Eye-Movements

Photo: Stock Photos from S_E/Shutterstock

Researchers found that cats were more likely to slow-blink back at humans using the eye-movement technique, no matter whether they knew the person or not.

Cat Human Relationship

Photo: Stock Photos from VH-STUDIO/Shutterstock

The cats were also more likely to approach slow-blinking humans than those holding a normal stare.

Do Cats Love You Communications

Photo: Stock Photos from SUNAT PRAPHANWONG/Shutterstock

The researchers surmise the slow-blinks express affection and contentedness. Owners can try the technique to strengthen their bond with their feline.

Cat Cuddles

Photo: Stock Photos from VEERA/Shutterstock

h/t: [Science Alert]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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