Experts Say This Is How To Tell Your Cat You Love Them In A Language They'll Understand

A tabby cat sits on a windowsill, gazing out through a screen
Courtesy of Raj Punjabi

If you have a cat, you probably know they aren’t always in the mood for being kissed, hugged or otherwise adored by humans. It feels like a trap, though — if they’re not into snuggling, why are they so damn snuggly?

Every cat has a different temperament depending on their age, social upbringing and genetics, but one thing’s consistent across the board: In order to earn the privilege of hanging out with these sassy floof monsters, we have to respect their boundaries.

So how do we express affection in their language? It’s long been rumored that blinking slowly at a cat indicates we love them and that they are safe with us. And, legend has it, if they slow-blink back, it means that the feeling’s mutual.

But is it real? Or just a Disney-like fantasy we’ve sold ourselves?

That’s what we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — asked Mikel Delgado, Ph.D., a cat behaviorist and scientist, when we recently chatted with her to better understand our furry friends.

“It’s real. It’s not a myth, it’s science,” Delgado told us. “There’s been research behind the slow blink that did suggest that cats do slow-blink in return and they do seem to respond positively to it.”

A woman with blonde hair smiles gently while holding a Siamese cat in her arms
Elizaveta Starkova / Getty Images

While the concept of blinking at each other to express a message may feel like supernatural communication, Delgado explained that the action is a primal indicator to our cats that we’re “friendly.” Staring at them or holding their gaze can be read as threatening to them. Slow-blinking is vastly different — it indicates that we are, in fact, not a threat, she said. Basically, it signals to them that we come in peace.

Some scientists, including Delgado, believe that while cats may look to their human as a parental figure of sorts, they most likely do not mistake us for other cats. However, they may still engage in positively associated cat behavior — showing off an upward-pointed tail, a face nuzzle, or the infamous slow blink — with us. “You can look at how cats interact with each other and they do some looking away and closing their eyes to diffuse conflict,” Delgado said. “So it makes complete sense [that they would do this with us too]. And yes, it’s one thing that we can say has been backed by science. So slow-blink away.”

Aside from confirming that the slow blink is the way to our cats’ hearts, we also learned about where they hate being pet, how to make their litter box feel like a spa, and why they do that adorable kneading thing (biscuits, anyone?).

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Need some help with something you’ve been doing wrong? Email us at, and we might investigate the topic in an upcoming episode.This article originally appeared on HuffPost.