My friend, Fran and I exited my car in front of my house. She had never met my cat, Tigger. He was sitting in the front window watching us. I told her that sometimes Tigger could be shy. She replied: “Oh, we will be fine. He just gave me a slow blink and I gave him one back.” I was baffled. I had cats all of my adult life and had never heard of that.
Since then, I have learned that one of the ways that cats communicate with each other and with us is by using their eyes. A prolonged, eyes wide open, unblinking stare between cats is an intimidating gesture that will often cause a lower-ranking cat to leave. Aggressive cats use a long-distance stare to control access to ‘their’ territory. Animal Behaviorist Layla Wilde warns that we should not engage in a staring contest with our cat because we will be perceived as a threat. Cats with trust issues will not return a slow blink and often avert their gaze.
In contrast, a non-aggressive cat signals that their intentions are not hostile by a slow eye blink. Cats blink at each other as well as the humans they love. On the “My Cat From Hell” TV series, Jackson Galaxy called those slow blinks “kitty kisses.”
The slow blink is associated with feeling relaxed and happy. It's a cat’s way of communicating trust and love. Now that I know, I daily exchange kitty kisses with each of my cats. Gracee insists on being held like a baby in my arms each morning when I first get up. She lies in my arms, purring loudly and showers me with kitty kisses. It is a great way to start each day…for both of us. During the day, I catch the eye of the other cats when they are relaxing near me, across the room, in my lap or in my arms and I slowly close and open my eyes. Invariably, they slowly close and open their eyes. And, whenever I see one of my cats sending me a ‘slow blink,’ I immediately respond by sending them a ‘slow blink’ back. We have just exchanged kitty kisses. Try it with your cat or with any cat.
Information for this article was reviewed and summarized from the following websites: about.com – Amy Shojai (Cat Expert) and CatWisdom101.com – Layla Morgan Wilde (Animal Behaviorist) as well as my experiences with my cats, including the Cat Authors.