Categories: tears

Cat Blink: When and Why

Domestic cat slow blink due to contentment. Photo in public domain

Do cats blink? It is said that cats do not blink to spread tear fluid over their eyes as humans do to remove dust etc. but they do blink on two occasions which are (1) when responding contentedly to our interactions with them which is called a slow blink and (2) when the tufts of stiffened hairs just above the eyes trigger the blink reflex if the eyes are threatened.

That pretty well sums it up. The stiffened hairs that I refer to above the eyes are the same as cats’ whiskers.

Nearly all cat owners are familiar with the slow feline blink which you can elicit from the domestic cat by interacting with him or her in a warm manner. It is said that domestic cats don’t blink to spread tear fluid over their eyes because tears spread naturally over the eyes without being assisted by the eyelid. I can’t find any research to confirm that.

The tears are secreted by glands found in the eyelids, nictitating membrane and conjunctiva. Tear fluid has two functions. It cleanses and lubricates the suface of the eye and also nourishes the eye. Tears also contain chemicals which help to support the immune system in order to prevent bacteria from getting a foothold causing an eye infection.

As tear fluid accumulates on the surface of the eye it evaporates and excess tears pool out near the bottom of the eye at the eye’s inner corner where it is carried away through a drainage system (tear duct) to the nose. Where there is excess tearing there might be a foreign object in the eye or the cat may be suffering from an eye ailment. Alternatively there may be tear duct overflow due to a deformed tear duct (due to extreme breeding) which can be seen in the modern purebred Persian cat.

My Cat Doesn’t Blink

This video has a lot of hits but what we are seeing is nothing special:

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

Can pumpkin help cats with diarrhea?

Pumpkin contains soluble fibre which absorbs excess water and therefore it firms up a cat's stool. Adding a teaspoon of…

3 hours ago

The meaning of “lines” in cat breeding

The goal of cat breeders should be to found (establish) a line of healthy cats which excel in reference to…

8 hours ago

How do I know my cat is happy?

The signs that your cat is happy will be subtle. It is easier to ask yourself whether you are happy…

12 hours ago

Unwillingness to eat: a classic sign that a cat is dying of old age

People search for signs that their cat is dying of old age. I have just read about a 31-year-old Maine…

13 hours ago

Can cat vaccinations cause diarrhoea?

Yes, cat vaccinations can cause diarrhoea. Sometimes cats have an allergic reaction to a vaccine. These are called type I…

23 hours ago

Is pet insurance worth the cost?

I don't think that pet insurance is worth the cost and I'll tell you why. There is a better alternative.…

1 day ago