Not only scientists but cat behaviorists like Jackson Galaxy (“My Cat From Hell”) have found it to be fact that the slow blink is the kiss of love to your cat. A study found that cats who were greeted with “cat eye narrowing movements” were likely to return the slow blink to their owners or even strangers. Further, the cats were more likely to approach strangers following the slow blink. The conclusion was that “positive emotional communication” with felines is able to be established via the slow blink.
If you believe in science, and we hope you do, what follows is the evidence gleaned from an experiment in the U.K. Two experiments were undertaken, and both involved common house cats with normal eyesight. For the first experiment, the owners were instructed on how to do the slow blink. The researchers defined this as a series of half-blinks where the eyelids never fully close. This was followed by a prolonged eye narrowing or closure. The owners were then placed within 3 feet of their cats. The control group avoided interacting with their cats and the other group did the slow blink. Compared to the control group, cats who had been slow blinked at were likely to exhibit this same behavior to their owners.
In the next experiment, two entirely different groups of cats were used to monitor responses to strangers who did the slow blink. Again, the cats who were slow blinked at were much more likely to approach the stranger than in the control group where the strangers maintained a neutral expression.
Scientifically, domestic animals like dogs and horses have been known to respond to human facial expressions. Although cats are not as expressive to their owners as are dogs, the evidence is beginning to emerge that suggests cats can develop an expressive social relationship with humans. This is shown by the slow blink experiments where cats are more likely to approach strangers.
Slow blinking is shown to have a relaxing effect on cats as they interact with humans, but less is known about why they seem to like slow blinking directed at them from us. It is possible that the act of blinking slowly is so soothing, that whether the cat is doing it or sees a human doing it, the soothing effect is still the same. Also, since prolonged eye contact is seen as threatening to cats, the slow blink response may have evolved amongst cats as a strategy to determine non-threatening behavior, regardless of the species in which it occurs.
The scientists do admit that more research is necessary before coming to a firm conclusion about the improved and relaxed emotional state that is associated with the slow blink. This may be just one more bit of evidence that shows that cats really can enjoy the presence of their people. No matter how aloof you may think they are, you can be sure Kitty has confidence in her own superiority. But at heart, she also knows that you are her human--and she loves you in spite of all of your human flaws and shortcomings!
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