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‘Slow-Blinking’ May Help Humans Bond With Cats, Study Says

A brand new research about cat-human communication has supplied scientific proof of what many cat lovers already suspected: “Slow-blinking” might assist individuals bond with their feline companions.

“Our results suggest that slow-blink sequences may function as a form of positive emotional communication between cats and humans,” wrote scientists from the United Kingdom’s University of Sussex and University of Portsmouth within the research, revealed within the journal Scientific Reports on Monday.

Slow-blinking means making eye contact with a cat after which slowly closing and opening your eyes. Cat conduct specialists have lengthy instructed {that a} cat slow-blinking at a human is an indication of belief and luxury.



A relaxed tabby cat sleeps on a blanket.

“That’s not ‘I love you’ so much as ‘I trust you,’” cat behaviorist and “My Cat From Hell” host Jackson Galaxy advised HuffPost final yr. ”‘I trust that you’re not gonna kill me.’”

Numerous specialists have instructed for years that people slow-blink at cats to speak optimistic emotions and assist make the cats extra snug. This new research suggests they have been proper.

“It’s something that many cat owners had already suspected, so it’s exciting to have found evidence for it,” research creator Karen McComb of the University of Sussex stated in a information launch concerning the research.

To examine the slow-blink phenomenon, researchers performed two experiments. The first one concerned 21 cats from 14 totally different households. Researchers took video of the cats’ responses when their house owners slow-blinked at them of their properties. They additionally took video of how the cats behaved when their house owners have been current within the room however not interacting with them.

The second experiment concerned a special set of 24 cats, additionally from a number of households. In this one, researchers videotaped how every cat responded to a slow-blink from one of many researchers ― a stranger to the cat ― versus a impartial expression with out direct eye contact. (The motive the impartial expression lacked direct eye contact is as a result of there’s proof cats interpret sustained direct eye contact as a risk.) After every trial, the researcher prolonged a hand towards the cat.

The researchers discovered a number of issues suggesting slow-blinking could possibly be an efficient approach for people to speak with cats.

The cats have been extra more likely to slow-blink at their house owners if the house owners slow-blinked at them first. They have been additionally extra more likely to slow-blink at a stranger (the researcher) if the stranger slow-blinked first. And when the researcher prolonged a hand towards the cats, the cats have been extra more likely to method if the researcher had slow-blinked first.

It’s not completely clear why slow-blinking might have this impact. Cat behaviorists have beforehand stated that cats usually slow-blink to sign that they’re content material and relaxed. Similarly, cats shut their eyes to point that they really feel protected with the current firm.

Additionally, slow-blinking might merely assist disrupt the unbroken stare that cats may even see as threatening, lead research creator Tasmin Humphrey stated within the launch.

She added that finding out cat-human communication will help enhance the expertise of cats in environments reminiscent of animal shelters and veterinary clinics.

“Understanding positive ways in which cats and humans interact can enhance public understanding of cats, improve feline welfare, and tell us more about the socio-cognitive abilities of this understudied species,” Humphrey stated.

McCombs instructed that individuals check out slow-blinking with their very own pets and even with cats they meet casually.

“It’s a great way of enhancing the bond you have with cats,” she stated. “Try narrowing your eyes at them as you would in a relaxed smile, followed by closing your eyes for a couple of seconds. You’ll find they respond in the same way themselves, and you can start a sort of conversation.”

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