What does it mean when a cat winks?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

OK, this is probably a stupid question, but what does it mean when a cat winks? I read somewhere that it means something.


Siouxsie: Let us start by assuring you that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, Barb.

Thomas: In fact, we think it’s highly commendable that you want to learn more about the subtle language of cats.

Dahlia: We cats do a lot of talking with our eyes. When we confront another cat, we do so with our eyes wide open and our pupils narrow — engaging in a stare-down, if you will. When we want some petting, we’ll sit on the floor and look up at you with big eyes and somewhat dilated pupils to show love and adoration (and a desire for your attention).

Siouxsie: When we stare with narrowed eyes, that’s an expression of haughty disgust. And when we’re upset at humans, we stare with open eyes and our top eyelids almost flat and pointed down toward our nose.

Thomas: The expressions we use to express our love — to another cat or to a human — are the slow blink and the wink.

Dahlia: The wink signifies “I like you, you’re kind of fun” or “Thanks for the treat/snack/toy/etc.”

Siouxsie: But the ultimate expression of love is the slow blink. Some people call the slow blink a “cat kiss.”

Thomas: The slow blink is a gesture in which we gradually close both eyes, keep the eyes closed for a second, and then slowly reopen the eyes.

Dahlia: You can try giving your cat a kiss with your eyes and see how she responds. Usually if you give an eye-kiss and your cat is paying attention, she’ll give you one in return. I love it when Mama gives me eye-kisses. And lip-kisses. And petties in all the right places! And verbal acknowledgment of my beauty, grace, elegance, intelligence, lovely tail, perfectly maintained fur …

Siouxsie: All right, all right. That’s enough! We all appreciate it when Mama tells us she knows how wonderful we are, but it’s in really poor taste to brag about it.

Thomas: When you visit a home with a cat, you can try giving the resident cat an eye-kiss. You’ll probably see that the cat will be encouraged by your polite approach to making friends with him, and he may even condescend to sit on your lap and allow you to pet him.

Dahlia: We do recommend that you practice the eye-kiss in a relaxed environment. Most cats won’t respond to eye-kisses if there’s a lot of noise and chaos around them.

Siouxsie: When there’s a lot of activity, we cats have to be on guard to make sure we’re safe and we know everything that’s going on in our environment. Cat kisses require focused attention and, because we have to close our eyes to give kisses, we can’t be as aware of possible danger.

Thomas: So, Barb, you’re right. A cat’s wink does mean something. It means she likes you.

Dahlia: But sometimes, as Mama says, a cigar is just a cigar. We cats do wink or blink when we get something in our eye, too. But those winks and blinks are typically fast, and the cat that blinks because he’s got something in his eye generally isn’t looking at a person or another cat.

Siouxsie: We hope we’ve helped you to understand some of the subtleties of cat language, Barb.

Thomas: If you’re interested in learning more about other cat body language, we’ve got columns in our archives dealing with aggressive and defensive body language, as well as the language of ears, tails and whiskers.

Dahlia: Thank you for your question, Barb, and thank you for wanting to learn more about what your cat friends are saying to you.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.


  1. Dalia says

    i have had my cat for a while now, 4 years i think!, and i have resently bought a kitten, i was hoping that they would get along.
    However my eldest cat isnt as friendly anymore and he seems not to want anything to do with my kitten
    any advice please?
    ~ LotsOfLove Dalia xx

    • Lauren says

      Cats can get territorial when a new member of their own species is introduced. To them it can feel as if this new cat may be thought as a better cat and as their replacement.

  2. Christina says

    I tried to slow blink to my cat to express my love for her but she just looks away! I hope this isn’t a bad sign :[

    • Sean Douglas says

      When a cat looms away even when u slow blink it’s a good sign. If a cat doesn’t trust you they will stare u down. So if they look away then they don’t feel threatened to have to stare you out the slow blink will come took me kitten about a week to do it back. Get on there level and keep trying it will happen don’t worry

  3. Grace says

    My cat winks at me ALL the time! But, I didn’t know what it meant. Now I do! So, if you cat winks at you, wink back! But, if he/she doesn’t wink, wink at them first. Who knows? Maybe then they’ll start winking to you!?

  4. Mel says

    In my limited human experience–and maybe the kitty quorum can confirm this–cats also wink the left or right eye for very specific reasons. I forget now which is which, being a little bit dyslexic. But in my experience it’s consistently one eye if they have an itch or a discomfort, say a bumped head; and the other eye if they are embarrassed or confused, either for themselves or for a goofy human. (And if you wink at them they may give you a look, like “Hmm, trying to CAT again?”) Observe and you may be a bit shocked like I was to suddenly realize that all of this has been going on all along with each and every “housecat.” Right, Guys? :-)

  5. Mel says

    Ps winking back with the correct eye at the correct time can be a sympathetic gesture…as in, that loud noise hurt my ears, too…or you can’t be as clumsy as I am I’m such a goof. For reals, don’t take my word for it, observe your feline companion and see for yourself!

  6. Paul says

    I noticed my little girl has been blinking. I volunteer at an all feline shelter. I never thought to ask. But now I know, and it’s what I figured : love, admiration, they like their human. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>