I’ve searched everywhere online for accounts of cats who wink instead of blinking and what it symbolizes, but I’ve come up empty-handed.
What’s the difference? When one eye is open and the other closes slowly or quickly, it is called a wink. When both eyes close, this is referred to as a blink (usually quickly in humans, though in cats, slow blinks are most common).
While there is a spate of postings about how to interpret cat slow blinking, winking appears to be a phenomenon that isn’t discussed nearly as much, perhaps because it’s more uncommon in the cat world.
That said, I’ve seen cats wink and heard pet parents say their cats frequently wink — with one eye – rather than blink – at them.
I presume it is likely to be similar to that of slow blinking or blinking in general in cats’ world. But it’s possible that there’s more to it.
All of these theories could be correct, or none of them could be correct. Who knows what will happen!
Here are a few theories about why cats wink at people.
If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments section.
1. CATS MAY WINK IF THEIR EYE IS FULL OF DUST OR DEBRIS.
If your cat doesn’t wink very often and just started to do so, it could be because one of its eyes is clogged with dust, dirt, or debris.
Double-check by peering into the affected eye – especially if your cat doesn’t regularly wink and instead prefers to blink.
2. CATS MAY WINK IF THEY HAVE ALLERGIES OR AN INFECTION IN ONE OF THEIR EYES.
Another reason to double-check your cat’s eye if he or she doesn’t usually wink but has just begun is that he or she could have allergies or an infection in one eye.
Make a speedy trip to the vet if you suspect your cat has an infection or allergies. Your veterinarian will most likely be able to advise you on how to treat it and maintain it clean, and/or will perform the task for you.
3. A CAT MAY WINK AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE FELINE SLOW BLINK
Many cat parents report that their cats wink frequently – so frequently, in fact, that their winking appears to be as common as sluggish blinking in other cats.
My cat occasionally blinks slowly and occasionally winks slowly, although I’m not persuaded he winks on purpose and not because he has allergies.
Because of his allergies, his eyes need to be cleaned frequently, and I believe this irritates him at times, leading him to prefer keeping one eye a little more squinted and closed than the other in the first place. Then, when he attempts to blink slowly, it seems more like a wink than a blink.
My brother’s cat has no allergies. Despite this, he winks and slow winks at his humans as frequently as most cats do. It’s very intriguing!
4. CATS SLOWLY BLINK AT OTHER CATS TO LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE NOT THREATS, AND THEY WINK TO DO THE SAME.
Slow-blinking cats indicate to each other that they are coming in peace, are friendly, and are not a threat to the other cat.
When they slow blink at humans, they are most likely communicating the same thing, as well as a variety of other things.
5. CAT WINKING POSSIBLY MEANS “I’M CALM”
Cats only blink slowly when they’re relaxed, so if a cat winks at you in the same manner as other felines would, it’s partly a means of signaling that the cat is relaxed.
6. WINKING, IN MOST CASES, MEANS “I’M HAPPY”.
This can be taken to the next level.
While cats can convey that they are not a threat by blinking slowly and utilizing winks as an alternative to blinking slowly, I believe the message is more of a combination of “I’m peaceful” and “I’m happy right now” among humans.
Please let me know if you notice this behavior in your own cat or in another cat you know.
7. WINKING MEANS A CAT IS FEELING SAFE AND NOT ANXIOUS.
Cats who slow blink or use winking as an alternative to slow blinking only do so if/when they are safe and not worried, similar to the two explanations above.
As a result, your cat blinking could be a sign that he or she is now feeling secure.
8. A CAT BLINKING IS AN ACT OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF YOUR PRESENCE AROUND
It may seem self-evident, but if your cat blinks at you, it means he or she is aware of your presence.
Cats can get lost in their own world, napping, playing, resting, or whatever they’re doing at the time.
In this situation, a cat is recognizing your existence by stating that he or she is aware of your presence, that he or she sees you, that you are sharing the same space, and that they are aware of your presence.
9. SLOW BLINKING BY THE CAT MEANS THE CAT IS COMFORTABLE IN YOUR PRESENCE.
There are numerous methods to make a cat feel uneasy in your presence, including making loud noises, moving in menacing ways, and approaching a cat who refuses to be petted or picked up, to mention a few.
That being said, if a cat gives you a slow blink or blinks at you instead of giving you a slow blink, it means that this cat feels at ease in your company at the moment.
There are things you can do to remedy this, but whatever you’re doing when a cat slow blinks or winks at you as a substitute is generally fine with kitty.
10. A CAT WINKING JUST LIKE A CAT BLINKING, SIMPLY MEANS “I TRUST YOU”
It’s debatable whether they mean “I trust you” in the sense of “I trust you not to bother/disturb me.”
I’ve been slowly winked at by feral street cats who would never allow me to approach them before, but who have grown accustomed to my presence to the point that if I’m sitting in the same driveway area as them, they’re okay with my presence and trust me where I am.
If a cat blinks slowly or winks instead of blinking, it’s likely to indicate that they trust you to do what you’re doing in their prey at the time.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON CATS WINKING AT HUMANS?
Which of the explanations listed above sound most likely to be true to you? Which one do you believe is the least likely?
You are welcomed to share your stories and thoughts in the comments.