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Science Says Your Cat Might Actually Like You

Behold, the Cat Smile.
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Ever feel like your cat is secretly plotting your demise? That you’re being used for free rent and kitty litter? Are you starved for affection?

Well, according to a recent study, perhaps your cat doesn’t hate you after all. You just need to learn its language.

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Researchers in the U.K. have found that cats can show affection by blinking slowly while holding eye contact. Apparently, these slow blinks are the equivalent of a cat smile. This expression of slow blinking with partially closed eyes implies contentment, similar to the face humans make when their eyes crinkle when they smile.

"This study is the first to experimentally investigate the role of slow blinking in cat-human communication," said psychologist Karen McComb of the University of Sussex.

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"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. Try narrowing your eyes at them as you would in a relaxed smile, followed by closing your eyes for a couple of seconds. You'll find they respond in the same way themselves and you can start a sort of conversation."

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You’re probably going to try it on your cat now, aren’t you? Don’t worry if it makes you feel like a fool. The experiment consisted of scientists and participants staring and blinking at cats for prolonged periods, hoping some kind of validation from these capricious animals. So you’re in good company.

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Since unbroken staring is threatening to cats, it’s safe to assume that slow blinking tells them you want to be their friend, not their enemy.

So try it out and see if your cat actually does like you. Or if it thinks its human is just being stupid. Aren’t we all fools when in the company of cats?

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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