Why Do Cats Blink Slowly at You? It’s a Kitty Kiss!

Why do cats blink slowly at you?

Whenever I go to my sister’s house for a visit, her two cats are always warily sitting by her doorsteps. As I get out of my car and begin walking toward them, I notice they are eyeing me cautiously. I guess they fancy themselves as guard cats.

I pick them up, one at a time, gently cuddling them. After a little purring and some kneading, they are out of my arms, back on the ground, seeming quite content.

And that’s when I notice an odd little thing — a slow blink, almost a wink.

Then, of course, I can’t help wondering…

Why Do Cats Blink Slowly at You?

Slow blinking by a cat (sort of an eyes-almost-closed look, almost trance-like) is a good sign — one that says, “You’re my buddy, and I feel comfortable hanging out with you.” My sister’s cats certainly must like me, as they have never jumped at me, hissed at me or run from me.

I did a little research on this topic, and it turns out that cats do a lot of talking with their eyes — the eyes are part of a feline’s communication system. If you are directly staring a cat down, you’ll only make that cat nervous. They see a stare-down like this as a threat.

Here is a quick video from Carolyn Quagliata, DVM, CVA, on how to read your cat’s body language:

Giving You a ‘Cat Kiss’

Slowly blinking at you is a sign of pure love, and it’s often even referred to as a “cat kiss.”

When other cats are around, you may see your kitty slow blinking a lot. This is to let the other cats know that everything is cool. In the wild, where cats battle for territory, this blinking message is really important, as all the other cats will realize they are no threat to one another. They’re signaling that there’s no need for fighting.

Make slow blink, not war.

Try Blinking Back!

At times, our own facial expressions can get a response from a feline. If you’re in a comfortable setting (and you don’t feel too ridiculous doing so), try tossing a slow blink to your cat. Chances are, she’ll send one back your way.

A mutual friendship may develop from this batting of eyes. Your cat may even come over and jump in your lap, giving you an open invitation to pet her.

All cats (yes, even feral cats) tend to have the “slow blinking eyes” thing going on. If you’re a brave person, take the plunge: Next time you’re at the zoo, blink slowly at a tiger, rather than staring directly into its eyes, and see if you gain a new feline friend.

Understanding your cat’s body language will make bonding with your pet a little easier. Through this “eye talk” you can learn your cat’s likes and dislikes.

Next time I go to my sister’s, I won’t be asking myself, “Why does a cat blink slowly at you?” — instead, I’ll take that endearing blinky thing as a simple “Eye love you”!

What do you think of this “slow blink” explanation? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below. You might also want to check out my previous posts on how cats sweat and why cats bump their heads against you. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love Pets Adviser’s popular email newsletter. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll also be among the first to get alerts about major pet food recalls: Learn more here.

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Photo: worthless key/Flickr

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  • abijith

    nice ;)

  • Learn2Speak

    How can you tell what your cat is thinking or what it’s mood is? Cats are huge on body language? So the first think you can look at is your cats eyes. If they’re wide and staring? That can mean that they are about to be aggressive? Or they’re focusing on something or getting ready to pounce? If their eyes are narrow and blinking? It usually means that they are very happy and content and comfortable?

    • Ishbane

      Cat owners simply can’t cope with the fact, that their cat hates and only feeds off them.
      That’s why they’re desperately making up signsof affection.

    • acbell

      Behavioral studies. It may not be as exact as human emotion but the eyes and tails will be your signs for a positive or negative behavior.

      It’s not just cats that are being studied for their social behavior but these are the basics for them: tails, eyes and ears.

    • technokat

      Hahaha! Someone PLEASE answer Dr. Carolyn’s questions! I wonder if she spends her entire life speaking interrogatively…

      It’s a horrible habit of a generation to think out loud and raise up the voice at the end of a statement as if there is more to come. It may be a sign of the days in school when they were unsure when answering a question and hoping for affirmation from a teacher, or perhaps it is just to keep the attention of listeners so they do not interrupt.

  • Zee Chen

    I read this about a month ago, and I have a stand offish cat who will suddenly come sit on my chest and rub all over my face for about 2 minutes and that is about it for the day. He is not a petting cat. He does not like that. Which I am fine with. But today he wanted lto leave the room and we were on the same level on the floor and I tried the blink thing with him, and he totally half his shut his eyes and blinked back at me twice. lol Then he left but it was fun to see it work and to realize he was giving me his version of a kitty kiss before he sauntered off like he always does.