What Are Cat Eye Blinks?
A cat eye blink, often referred to as kitty kiss, is a common cat behavior. The cat's eyes communicate information depending on how open the eyelids are, as well as what the eyes do. Cats' eyes demonstrate strong emotion, easily recognizable by other cats and by humans... with a little practice.
A prolonged, unblinking stare between cats is an intimidating gesture that often will cause a lower-ranking cat to turn tail and leave. Aggressive cats can use a long-distance stare to control access to their territory. You might not even notice, but the kitties understand that the top cat is "guarding" the hallway that leads to the litter box, for example, and so they won't dare challenge or trespass!
If you are trying to make friends with a strange cat outdoors, it would be a huge mistake to stare at him, as you will either intimidate him into leaving, or even worse, bring out his aggressive nature. In either case, your attempt to make friends will probably be squelched.
Cats use their eyes to demonstrate or even to hide their emotions. A slit-eyed look indicates strong emotion—fear or aggression. Squinting also protects eyes from claws of a potential opponent.
Eye Blink Kitty Kisses
On the other hand, wide-open eyes usually indicate friendliness, curiosity, or even playfulness. You can often see these visual clues demonstrated by kittens, who haven't yet been fully introduced to the hierarchies of kitty culture. Their innocence when meeting one another is a pleasure to behold.
The eye blink is another way that non-aggressive cats signal that their intentions are not hostile. Cats blink at each other, as well as at the humans they trust, with a slow eye blink "cat kiss." Kitties that use this non-threat signal are able to smooth their interactions with other cats. The "slow blink" was identified by cat behaviorist, Anitra Frazier, author of The Natural Cat.
Jackson Galaxy, in his book, Cat Daddy, describes his use of the slow blink in his new job with the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, as Front Desk Supervisor:
"One morning at 2 a.m., faced with 45 cats in cages screaming in terror during a thunder and lightning storm, Jackson put to the test the 'Cat I Love You' slow blink. Cat-by-cat, slow blink after slow blink, after several hours all the cats had stopped screaming and were back in their state of "confidence and stillness," which Jackson refers to as "cat mojo."
Try it yourself. The next time you're sitting quietly and notice your kitty across the room gazing at you, look back-and then with great exaggeration, slowly shut and then open your eyes. Chances are, your cat will return the cat-kiss eye blink, and you will have arrived.