Want to strengthen the bond with your cat? A team of psychologists from the Universities of Sussex and Portsmouth have discovered a clever trick to help you win the affection of your cat — and all it takes is your eyes.
The research, which was published in the Nature Journal Scientific Reports, found that narrowing your eyes is the best way to build a strong bond with your cat. In fact, when humans slowly blink and mimic what is known as the 'cat smile', it forms a positive communication between cats and humans.
Want to try it? All you have to do is...
Narrow your eyes at your cat as you would in a relaxed smile
Close your eyes for a couple of seconds
Look at your cat and you'll find they will respond in the same way themselves, as if they are ready to start a conversation
In the study, the psychologists undertook two experiments. In the first one, they found that cats are more likely to slowly blink at their owners after they have slow blinked at them first.
Meanwhile, in the second experiment, this time with the psychologists, they discovered that cats were more likely to approach the experimenter's outstretched hand after they'd slow blinked at the cat.
Professor Karen McComb, from the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, said in the release: "As someone who has both studied animal behaviour and is a cat owner, it's great to be able to show that cats and humans can communicate in this way. It's something that many cat owners had already suspected, so it's exciting to have found evidence for it.
"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."
Dr Leanne Proops from the University of Portsmouth who co-supervised the work also said: "It's definitely not easy to study natural cat behaviour so these results provide a rare insight in to the world of cat-human communication."
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