Psychologists Have Figured Out A Way To Befriend Cats That Isn’t Just Going Pspspspspsps

Cats / psychologists

Without beating around the bush here, I simply do not understand cats. I can’t tell if they hate me or loathe, and every time I try and pat one, they run for the hills. Psychologists across the pond, meanwhile, reckon they’ve found the way to befriend the furry feline.

A new study, published online, found it’s actually possible to form a friendship with a cat by using an eye narrowing technique.

It’s popularly known as a “cat smile” – a slow blink – and it makes the human more attractive to the cat.

According to the study, the cat smile carries some similarities to the Duchenne smile, otherwise known as a genuine human smile. It’s also quite similar to some eye narrowing movements made in positive situations in some other species.

In other words, it’s all in the eyes. Or as Tyra Banks coined: the smize. 

Smile with your eyes… and then slow blink.

(Skip to the 3.20 mark if you’re interested.)

Let’s get into the specifics.

The study, made up of two experiments, was led by Dr Tasmin Humphrey and Professor Karen McComb, animal behaviour scientists at the University of Sussex.

The first experiment revealed that cats are more likely to slow blink at their owners after owners slow blinked at them, compared to when there’s just no interaction at all.

The second experiment was carried out with a cat and a stranger, in this case the psychologist, rather than the cat’s actual owner.

It revealed the cats “were more likely to approach the experimenter’s outstretched hand after they slow blinked at the cat, compared to when they had adopted a neutral expression.”


“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,” McComb said.

“It’s something that many cat owners had already suspected, so it’s exciting to have found evidence for it.”

The study is the first to experimentally investigate the role of slow blinking in cat-human communication.

It’s also something any one of us can try at home or on the street, no fancy-schmancy tech needed.

For those (me) not too familiar with cats, here’s how to do the cat smile.

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

Go forth my friends, go forth.

This is neither here nor there, but when I slow blink at my dog, she falls ASLEEP.