How to Smile at Your Cat

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Cat with Narrowed Eyes
Felines have been described with wonderful attributes like smart, intuitive and graceful; but they are also known to be stand-offish, asocial and (dare we say?) even rude when the mood strikes!
Chalk it all up to “cat-titude!”

Even the most ardent cat lover can, at times, be met with a seemingly indifferent feline. Or is it more of a misunderstanding on our part of a cat’s subtle, sophisticated body language? Well, thankfully, scientists have uncovered a secret to get your cat to like you … smile at your cat!

Keep reading to learn more!

The Cat “Smile”

With our canine friends, it is easy to decode their moods, it is written all over them! But cats are a bit more subtle by signaling their moods through twitching tails, ruffled fur, the position of their ears and whiskers and even through the narrowing of their eyes.

Cat Smiling with Narrowed EyesThis specific eye language or movement has been called a “cat smile” by experts and researchers who believe it can help strengthen your bond with your favorite feline.

While eye narrowing by felines is nothing new (Jackson Galaxy has often used it on his “My Cat from Hell” series), recent studies now offer tangible evidence it might be a form of “positive emotional communication between cats and humans.”

A study done at the University of Sussex in England found that “cats are more likely to slow blink at their owners after their owners slow blinked at them, compared to no interactions between the two.

“This study is the first to experimentally investigate the role of slow blinking in cat-human communication. And it is something you can try yourself with your own cat at home, or with cats you meet in the street. It’s a great way of enhancing the bond you have with cats.” 

(Professor Karen McComb, University of Sussex Study Supervisor)

How to Smile at Your Cat

First, put yourself in front of your cat at a comfortable distance. Narrow (orMan and Cat Nose to Nose squint) your eyes like you would if you had a happy and relaxed smile on your face. Then slowly blink at your cat by closing your eyes for a couple of seconds and then opening. If your cat responds in kind, you are “talking” with your cat!

This “slow blink” appears to make humans more attractive to the cat motivating them to respond in kind and to also approach the human. Research has found the role of slow blinking (or the cat smile) in cat-human communication also enhances your bond and trust with your feline.

A word of caution, do not try to force your cat to communicate back or engage in intense staring at your cat which can be interpreted as threatening in social interaction! Be patient and hopefully your cat will willingly engage in smiling communication!


“Why Do We Think Cats are Unfriendly?”

 How to Earn Your Cat’s Trust and Affection”

 “Why are Cats So Incredibly Rude?”

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Image Credits

Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Jennifer Moore from Pixabay

Yuliya Kota from Pexels

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