A study published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports showed that the use of this blinking technique can strengthen the emotional bond between cats and their owners, since it can make the human being more attractive to the feline. The authors, a team of psychologists from the Universities of Sussex and Portsmouth, carried out two experiments to test this hypothesis. The first showed that, when owners have interacted with animals using this technique of squinting, cats are much more likely to emit this gesture of affection towards them, compared to situations in which the owners had not emitted any gesture.
In the second experiment, it was the researchers, rather than the owners, who tried to make contact with the cats. The results revealed that the animals were more willing to approach the experimenter’s outstretched hand when the experimenter had slowly blinked at them, compared to the tests in which they had adopted a neutral tone.
On the whole, study shows that this slow blink technique can provide a positive form of communication between cats and humans. “This study is the first to experimentally investigate the role of slow blinking in communication between cats and humans. And it is something that you can try yourself with your own cat at home, or with cats that you find in the street, it is an excellent way to improve the bond you have with cats ”, explains Karen McComb, researcher at the University of Sussex. “Try squinting as you would with a relaxed smile, and then close your eyes for a couple of seconds. You will see that the cats respond in the same way and you can start a kind of conversation ”.
In the work, the authors provide a context for their findings. The psychology of cats has not been studied as much as that of dogs, but there is already numerous evidences of some of their behavior patterns:
Cats have been shown to attract and they manipulate human attention effectively through the “purr of request.”Cats can distinguish their name from other words, even when called unknown humans. Cats can be sensitive to human emotional cues and rub their heads against an owner who is feeling sad.