Issue 10: July 09

Dear Fancy,

Our darling cat Darla sometimes looks at me and slowly blinks. What does that mean, O Wise One?

Enraptured by our cat's eyes

Darla's slow-motion blink may be her way of saying "Eye love you."

Cats show affection in many ways; some are well-known, such as purring and snuggling. But we communicate with nearly all parts of our bodies, from nose to TAIL-TIP. Our eyes are part of that communications system;     

we use them not only to take in information but to convey our intentions and moods.

When our eyes are open at their widest, we may be on "full alert" because of perceived danger. Going about our normal daily routines (when we're awake), our eyes are open wide, but not quite that wide; they appear attentive yet relaxed. You probably know the blissful, "I'm in heaven," eyes-almost-closed look (often accompanied by a rumbling purr and rhythmic kneading); we practically go into a trance when our favorite humans caress us or scratch our chins just right. A fixed stare generally means "Back off; I'm about to bite or claw you." We consider that fair warning.

Some cats "kiss" with the slow blinking movement you described, and they may even respond to you doing the same: Gaze at your kitty with your eyes opened normally, then slowly close your eyes and re-open them. Don't worry if kitty doesn't return the favor; as we all know, no two cats are alike, and every cat is at least a little unpredictable. You may want to try this technique with Darla, and gauge her reaction. She may appreciate the gesture even if she doesn't always respond in kind. Conversely, when Darla blows you a "kitty kiss" with her eyes, feel free to return the favor. It can be fun and rewarding speaking "cat"!

By the way, some cats will give you a little nibble – often on the nose – as a sign of endearment. Usually you can distinguish between a love bite and a not-so-loving bite, but at first you might be somewhat taken aback. Consider "being bitten by a smitten kitten" an honor, however.

There's one recommendation I'd like to make for those endeavoring to understand the feline dialect. To grasp the nuances of what we're saying (at least some of them, sometimes), observe the whole body – ears, tail, posture, and so forth. For instance, when we hear a loud, unfamiliar noise outside, in addition to opening our eyes at full capacity we may point our ears outward – further indicating that we're ready to react to a possible threat in the vicinity.

The better you understand your cat's body language, the more you'll be able to bond with your cat and accurately determine your cat's desires and physical and emotional condition. An additional advantage of gaining fluency in feline-speak is a feeling that you're entering our mystical, magical world.

Enjoy the blink and all the other messages Darla may be sending your way!




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