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I know my blue eyes are lovely, but please
refrain from staring at me.
The eyes are another aspect of our cats' complicated body language. To directly stare at a cat is considered a threatening behavior. Think about it, though…doesn’t it make you uncomfortable and a little creeped out when someone stares at YOU too long? Sometimes the cat may look away if you stare it directly in the eye. Sometimes it may continue staring back at you, unwavering. But sometimes, the cat may slowly blink at you. The slow blink is body language stating, “I am not a threat to you.” As a cat owner, you may find your cat staring intently at you from across the room. If you slowly blink at the cat, it will probably blink slowly back at you. By slowly blinking at the cat, you are giving him the message that you are not a threat. By blinking back at you, your cat is telling you, “Hey, neither am I. I’m pretty comfortable here.” Cats also use the slow blink with other cats to break up an aggressive stare down.

Some behaviorists use the “slow blink” trick when meeting new cats. It can be a way to “break the ice” with the cat, showing her that you are not a threat. To be honest, the best way to show you are not a threat to a cat is to not stare her in the eye to begin with! Though the cat may slowly blink in submission, staring the cat in the eye IS a threatening gesture, and most cats respond better if you simply look past them or off to the side. Ever notice that someone who dislikes cats seems to be the most attractive person to a cat? That’s because people who dislike cats tend not to pay them any attention, and that (in feline language) is a non-threatening gesture and an invitation for further contact. For “cat haters”, it’s almost a catch 22.

The best rule of thumb? Never stare a cat directly in the eyes. It’s just not nice.

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