CAT blink

Do Cats Blink? Why And How Often?

Yes, cats do blink. Although there are many ways in which cats’ eyelid movements and biology are different from those of humans, they do blink just like their human counterparts.

How does Your Cat Blink?

Cats’ eyes are shielded and protected by their upper and lower eyelids. While a cat’s upper and lower eyelids move toward one another when blinking, they typically do not close completely as ours do. Instead, it might appear as though your cat is squinting.

The third eyelid on cats is called a nictitating membrane, and it aids in the production of tears thanks to special glands that are housed there. The pink nictitating membrane is situated beneath the upper and lower eyelids in the inner corner of the eye. This membrane can move very quickly and is very thin.

The nictitating membrane moves very quickly diagonally across the eye when a cat blinks, partially closing its upper and lower lids. You probably won’t be able to see the membrane move. Your cat might instead just appear to be squinting.

Your cat’s eyes are protected by these three eyelids collectively, but cats don’t blink in the same way that people do. Our eyelids release tears when we blink, keeping the eye surface moist and clearing away debris. But cats don’t blink to blot out their tears. Instead, after the debris is cleared from the eye, their tears evaporate. Cats can benefit from blinking in this way without ever completely closing their eyes.


Why Do Cats Blink?

Because of their nictating membrane, cats don’t need to blink or squint, so why are they ever observed doing so?

All cats and people have what’s known as a menace response. Although it may sound like a topic for discussion at a neighborhood watch meeting, the eye simply closes as a matter of course when something is in close proximity to it.

The same response that causes you to immediately close your eyes when you hear a loud noise also causes you to do so when a ball is coming toward your face. This response is known as the menace response.

This means that whenever something might be approaching their face, you might notice your cat blinking or at the very least squinting.

Cats will blink more in windy or particularly dirty conditions, just like humans do. When your housecat’s wild ancestors first came into contact with humans in the desert, this natural reflex was crucial for keeping the eye clean.

Cats can express their love, trust, and affection by blinking as well! A cat’s soft blinking eyes are a sign of comfort and trust in the people they are around.

How Often do Cats Blink?

Cats don’t blink their eyes as frequently as we do. In contrast to cats, which can go for hours without their upper and lower eyelids touching, humans blink between 15-20 times per minute to keep their eyes lubricated, healthy and protected from dust and debris.

What Cat Blinking Means

Cats’ slow or rapid blinking are often signs of experiencing positive or negative emotions through changes in the sub-neocortical areas of the brain

By sensing and responding to a stimulus with the exhibited behavior associated with a particular emotion, cats are able to experience positive and negative emotions through changes in the sub-neocortical areas of the brain.

Slow Blink

Many cat parents often wonder why cats slowly blink. A recent study titled ‘The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat-human communication’, published in the Journal Scientific Reports found that the slow blink is related to a positive emotional state.

According to Humphrey (T.), slow blink sequences typically start with a series of half-blinks and are followed by either a protracted eye narrow or an eye closure., J. Forman and L. Proops et al.2020). The slow blink differs from a typical blink and an accelerated, exaggerated blink by both the frequency of blinking and the situations in which it occurs.

Sometimes one eye appears to close more than another, it’s known as “winky eyes” by some people. Both experiments demonstrated that slow blinking is a helpful means of human and feline communication. Blink slowly in their direction to help your cat feel more at ease.

Rapid Blink

Indicators of a fearful or negative emotional state include rapid blinking. The skin on the cat’s face wrinkles when it blinks quickly because the eyes close quickly and the eyelids close shut.

Normally, a cat will avoid making direct eye contact with people in potentially dangerous situations, and when it is terrifying, its blinking rate will quicken due to elevated arousal. Moving away will make the cat feel less threatened if they feel threatened by your presence.

cat blink

What Does It Mean When A Cat Blinks At You?

Your cat likes you if they blink at you softly and slowly.

Consider for a moment what a blink in the wild might mean.

Your cat would only close her eyes when she felt safe, so doing so would always be a risky choice. On the other hand, your cat may perceive something as prey, a threat, or at the very least something worthy of intense interest if it is fixed with unwavering eyes on it.

So when your cat looks into your eyes and slowly blinks, that’s her way of saying, “Hey, you make me feel secure and I think you’re pretty awesome.”

How To Communicate With Your Cat Using Blinks

One of my favorite entertaining cat activities is slow blinking with a cat. It’s a great way to connect with your cat.

The next time your cat is calm and at ease with soft eyes, make quick eye contact with them before slowly blinking several times. Just for a second, keep your eyes closed to make sure your blinks are extra slow.

Your cat may well imitate your slow blinks in order to get your attention.

However, keep in mind that prolonged, unbroken eye contact with cats may indicate aggression or an attempt at intimidation. So be careful not to unintentionally give your cat the wrong signals by gazing at them for too long!

If you’re still a little unsure of what this might look like, check out this great video from Jackson Galaxy on how to master the slow blink:

The soft blink, which I used throughout my ten years of experience in the animal welfare industry, can be a great way to say hello to new kitties who are already feeling somewhat at ease with you.

Cats will also use this gentle blink to express their affection and confidence for their feline companions. So if you’ve ever questioned whether your cats get along with one another, think of the slow-blink cat!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can Cats Maintain An Open Eye?

Cats have the ability to remain awake for extended periods of time without blinking.

Why Never A Blink From My Cat?

A cat who doesn’t blink may have Horner’s syndrome, Dysautonomia, high blood pressure, or feline cognitive dysfunction, all of which call for a veterinary examination.

Should I Return My Cat’s Blinks?

Yes, you can convey trust and the fact that you are not a threat to your cat by slowly blinking back at it. Gently blink, but turn your gaze to one side to avoid coming off as intimidating.

To Express Their Love, Do Cats Blink?

A slow, gentle blink indicates your cat loves you, though I don’t want to put words in its mouth.

or, at the very least, that they feel secure and safe with you. Keep in mind that your cat would never close her eyes to predators or potential prey!

The Third Eyelid: Do Humans Have It?

Yes, we do!

Although it’s unexpected, you should know that you can’t use it to blink like our feline friends before you get too excited. As with your appendix, it is regarded as a vestigial organ. That means it is still a typical component of our body even though it serves no purpose any longer.


Keep in mind to give your cat slow, subtle kisses to keep them relaxed and to further your human-animal bond.