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Science explains: How to actually befriend a cat


If you’re not a cat-lover, i can be hard to understand the particular aloofness of cats.

They beg for attention and then reject us when we give it, or they seem to actively avoid their human owners.



Scientists at the University of Sussex have some new research on how to make a cat like you (or at least tolerate you).

The key is a technique called eye-narrowing, or as it is more commonly known, the “slow-blink.”

With a soft smile, slowly narrow your eyes, close them for a couple seconds, and then reopen them.

Prof Karen McComb University of Sussex

You might find that your cat — or indeed any cat — may respond in kind, or be more willing to approach, the scientists suggest.

Scott Barbour / Stringer

To test the slow blink, the researchers conducted two experiments — one involving cats and their owners, and one involving cats and a stranger.


Cats were more likely to slow blink at their owners if the owners initiated the slow-blink exchange.


Cats were also more likely to approach a stranger after the stranger did a slow blink, compared to when the stranger kept a neutral expression.


Although the slow blink was already known as a cat-friendly behavior, this is the first experimental evidence of how it may help build rapport with a cat.


So the next time you see a cat, give it a slow blink, and maybe you’ll make a friend.


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