Study reveals you can communicate with your cat just by blinking, here’s how

Woman smiling at cat on her chest
(Image credit: Getty)

You may have tried talking. You may have attempted to smile. You may even have reached out and given your cat a friendly pat. But if you really want to bond with your feline friend, then you need to try working on your eyes. 

You may have already tried the best interactive cat toys but now, a study published in Scientific Reports (opens in new tab) has revealed cats are receptive to human attempts to chat with them – so long as you're speaking the correct language. 

By slowly blinking, for instance, a cat is likely to reciprocate by slow-blinking in return. If you go further and extend a hand while slowly blinking, the scientists say a cat will, more often than not, also approach you.

In each case, the cat owners were sitting a meter away from the kitties. What's more, the communication hack seemed to work when humans and cats were strangers, making the slow-blink a great way to engage a feline you encounter for the first time.

But there's a knack to it: you need to relax your face, narrow your eyes then close them for a couple of seconds.

“Our results suggest that slow blink sequences may function as a form of positive emotional communication between cats and humans,” the researchers from the University of Sussex wrote. In conducting their study, they've confirmed what many cat owners had long suspected. Here's a tweet showing some cat love in action!

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Even so, it appears to be only one method of engagement. It doesn't shed light on other issues such as why do cats meow nor does it explain what your feline is trying to tell you when purring, licking and making use of their tail.

Indeed, you may want to explore what your cat's tail is telling you and also get to grips with cat body language. You may even find that playing games while feeding your kitty with the best cat food is another great way to bond – albeit an essential one! 

As for why cats have developed to communicate by slow-blinking, the scientists point to the eyes being important in signalling emotions.

“The act of narrowing the eyes [appears] to be associated with positive emotional communication in a range of species,” the researchers wrote. 

David Crookes has been a journalist for more than 20 years and he has written for a host of magazines, newspapers, websites and books including World of Animals, BBC Earth, Dogs and Canines, Gadget and The Independent. Born in England, he lives in a household with two cats but he’s also keenly interested in the differences between the huge number of dog breeds — in fact, you can read many of his breed guides here on PetsRadar. With a lifelong passion for technology, too, he’s always on the lookout for useful devices that will allow people to spend more time with their pets.