Cat experts believe that the slow blink from a cat is a sign of trust and love towards their human companion. How do you encourage your cat to give you a slow blink?
I will refer to 3 sources in answering the question. Firstly I will refer to cat behaviourist and author Anitra Frazier. She wrote The Natural Cat. She refers to a technique she calls the “Cat I Love You”. She would look at cats in windows in New York. When she approached them with a softened face and gazed at the cats they would slow blink back at her.
I think the reference to “softened face” and “gazed” are the key elements in how you should approach a cat to elicit the slow blink. This is because Jackson Galaxy in his book Total Cat Mojo tells us that for a domestic cat to do a slow blink he or she has to be very trusting towards the person opposite them. It is a show of vulnerability because as cats are predators they tend to be highly alert.
He suggests that we reciprocate that vulnerability by keeping our eyes “soft” and gazing rather than staring at the cat. Jackson even suggests that you practice the soft gaze in a mirror. The gaze should be “light, relaxed, nonconfrontational” whereas a stare is “uneasy, obtrusive, confrontational”. He suggests that a stare may elicit a claw to your face! I don’t think it would be that bad, to be honest, but I take his point. He says that you have to be confident in order to do a good, relaxed gaze!
When you gaze at your cat and soften your eyes and blink you should think “I love you”. He writes that when you think the letter “I” you should have your eyes open. When you think the word “love” you should close your eyes and then the last word is thought with the eyes open! Then you wait for the return feline blink. It doesn’t always happen.
I don’t think you necessarily need to carry out such an elaborate routine to elicit a slow blink from your car companion. It does depend somewhat on the circumstances. Your cat has to be relaxed, perhaps sitting on your lap or next to you. The general mood is calm and there is a closeness between you. You might talk to your cat in a gentle voice looking at her in a relaxed manner. She may well blink back.
I find that my voice and my manner or demeanour are the key elements which lead to the feline slow blink. Occasionally I have blinked to test whether it works but I don’t think it adds much. Not in my case anyway. Once again it depends on how a person relates to their cat. You can set up little routines and therefore if you slow blink in front of your cat at the right moment she may take it to be a signal to reciprocate. It would be a form of mutual training.
Comment: In reference to Anitra Frazier’s technique, I wonder whether she was actually eliciting a feline facial expression which signalled bemusement. I believe that cats are often perplexed by the things we do and the slow blink can be confused with a similar facial expression which incorporates the blink but which signals uncertainty or a perplexed mentality with what is going on around him. This might be the case with respect to Frazier because she was approaching stranger cats albeit through a window pane.
PS – It is also said that when cats do a slow blink they are avoiding staring at you. Experts believe that cats don’t like to be stared at as explained on this page and therefore in return they avoid staring at you (thinking that you are a cat) by blinking. What you think about that?
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