Want to make your cat love you? Learn how to make them smile
Building up trust with a cat can take time. Often cats can appear standoffish or aloof, running away as soon as you enter the room. However, scientists in the UK have discovered one way that bond could develop faster – narrowing your eyes.
The new study shows squinting until you blink at a cat – known as “cat narrowing eye movements” in the study – will likely elicit the same response from a feline. The cat is then more likely to approach the squinter, the study says. This optical back & forth between human and cat can help “positive emotional communication” develop.
In the blink of a cat’s eye
Though this idea of the slow blink is nothing new to cat owners & lovers, this is the first time the benefits of slow blinking have been behaviorally studied. In the first study of two done by this research team, 21 cats were experimented on in their homes, in their own territory. Placed no more than three feet away, their owners would either perform the slow blink in front of their pets or completely ignore them.
The study found that the cats were more likely to narrow their glares back at their owners when it had been done to them first. The cats that were ignored by their owners were significantly less likely to interact with their owners. The scientific team then tried the same experiment out on a different set of cats. This time they tested the same experiment with one twist: using a stranger instead of an owner.
The cats who were blinked at were significantly more likely to approach the stranger than those not acknowledged at all. The approaching effect seems to be the key in determining whether or not cats enjoy being around humans.
It’s long been said cats may find long stares threatening, which would make sense why the slow blink works. The narrowing of the eyes and the repetition of the movement may tell the cat the human in front of them is not a threat.
Other ways to approach
Staying calm and approaching the cat carefully is another way to build a relationship with it. Sitting down near the cat and extending your hand out towards it is the best way to get a cat to approach you. Pro tip: point your index finger at their nose level. This mimics the way cats interact and say hello to each other.
If, at any point, the cat runs away, it may need space. Give it some time, and eventually, the cat will surface again once it calms down. Taking note of a cat’s likes and dislikes – where they like to lay down, what toys they like, what body parts they like to rub against objects – is a good way to gauge how and where to touch them.
Stroking it on its back, especially towards the tail area, seems to be the sweet spot for many cats. When you feel comfortable enough, try rubbing its face a little. The cat will then smell itself on your hand and will more likely be affectionate with you.
Making the purrfect friend
The slow blink may be the quickest way to gain points with a feline. This is an area of research that needs to be explored further, but the study’s scientists say that its results prove that cats really can show affection towards humans. So the next time you are in the room with a new cat or even your own, try out the experiment. If they slow blink back or even approach you, it may be their way of waving hello.