Cat winking: Why does my cat wink at me?

There's a mystery behind every cat behavior, but few are as curious or confusing as the cat wink. Why do cats wink at you, what do they want, and what can you do about it?

Cats will often blink when they're happy and comfortable.
Cats will often blink when they're happy and comfortable.  © Unsplash/Alisa Matthews

A cute little kitty will always want your attention, and will look at you in all sorts of different ways!

Every behavior that your cat exhibits has a reason hidden behind it, but these explanations can be hard to figure out.

So what's behind your cat's lowering lashes (apart from its eyes)?

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It's time to discover why cats wink at you and what you can do about it. Cats may express themselves primarily via facial expressions and body language, but that doesn't make them easy to read. Why does my cat wink at me? Let's find out!

Why is my cat winking at me?

There are a variety of reasons that can explain why your cat might be winking at you, and you'll be happy to know that most of them are positive. In fact, the most common reason why a cat will slowly blink at you is out of a sense of warm sleepiness, or even just simple happiness.

A single-eyed wink could be something different, however! While it's not comparable to the human wink, the behavior is worth investigating.

Of course, it's worth noting that there is no way to ask a cat why it has winked at you, so you'll need to discern the reason based on context.

Before we get into the deep details, though, let's make something clear – slow cat winks are basically equivalent to a kitty smile. Ultimately – unless your cat is winking due to health concerns – it is most likely blinking and winking because it is happy, content, and leading a good life!

Just so you know: Since you asked, it's actually worth winking back at cats since they perceive it as a calming and reassuring gesture. Cats that are winked at will be less likely to attack as they will consider you less of a threat.

Your cat's wink is adorable no matter what!
Your cat's wink is adorable no matter what!  © 123RF/Dimakp

Cats wink in defense

In some cases, your cat will seem to wink at you when it is actually watching you closely through slits in its eyelids.

You can recognize this by wildly flapping tails, defensive body language, and a grumpiness that seems hard to shake.

When this happens, it is best to stay clear, as what looks like a wink is your cat's way of checking that you are behaving to its satisfaction.

Cat winks are about confidence and comfort

If your cat is lounging around relaxing while slowly winking and blinking, then that means it currently feels comfortable and safe.

When it winks at you in this context, it is a sign of trust and love, as it cannot see its surroundings for the brief moment its eyes are closed and is therefore making itself vulnerable in front of you. Keep this in mind if you observe your cat winking at you, as it likely means that it enjoys your company and has a lot of respect for you.

Cat winking as a reflex

When you are petting and cuddling your beautiful cat, especially when you are touching its face, it may wink at you out of reflex.

This is not technically a "wink" and, instead, is your kitty temporarily closing its eye to protect it from you and your grubby fingers.

On top of that, the reflex is often triggered by a cat's whiskers, as a way of warning it to avoid foreign objects that could hurt its eyes.

Your cat will often blink as a reflex when being petted.
Your cat will often blink as a reflex when being petted.  © 123RF/Kazantseva

Health issues can cause cat winking

Issues relating to your cat's health can cause excessive winking.

These factors generally include infections that may cause your cat to have itchy eyes, produce more tears and discharge, or get a bit red.

On top of that, various diseases can cause excessive blinking/winking and need to be closely and carefully monitored just in case.

Some health-related causes of cat winking include:

  • Pink eye / Conjunctivitis
  • Issues with sight caused by corneal damage
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Eyelid issues
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Entropion

Important: This is not a complete list of eye issues that can impact a cat's health. For such information it is best to speak to a registered and professional veterinarian, as they are generally more knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Happiness and pleasure can explain why your cat is winking at you

Your cat's winking could just simply be put down to happiness, pleasure, and love. If your cat feels comfortable around you, the family, and your friends, then it will be more willing to relax and embrace activities that may take its eyes off the game from time to time.

Remember that most cats are nervous and uncomfortable creatures, so if it is happy enough to wink at you, then you have certainly been doing a good job!

Winking cats are adorable, but there's a reason behind the wink.
Winking cats are adorable, but there's a reason behind the wink.  © Unsplash/Joppe Spaa

What to do when your cat winks at you

While most of the time no action is necessary, if you have noticed your cat winking or slowly blinking far more often than usual, you should take it to the vet. It is unlikely that anything is wrong, especially because most health problems that would cause winking and blinking in cats come with other symptoms that are easy to identify, but it is better to be safe than sorry!

In some cases, a cat's winking can indicate problems that may impact its ability to see in the future. Since this is a very big deal and would have a tragic influence on its quality of life, such issues should be taken seriously even if it is unlikely to be anything too bad.

With that in mind, what should you do when your cat winks at you for any other reason? Why, wink back at them, of course! This disarms you in the eyes of your kitty, making you more relatable and vulnerable, and signals to them that you are safe, comfortable, and love them at least as much as they love you.

For the most part, don't worry about your cat's winking. If you are concerned about health issues, take it to a vet as soon as possible, but if not, give it a few winks back and move on with your day!

Is cat winking really such a big deal?

As we established when we explained that there's nothing that you need to do when your cat winks at you, your kitty's winking habit is really not particularly important unless it indicates a health issue. Instead, cat winking is something to giggle over and enjoy as it is usually a sign of happiness, comfort, and pleasure.

If your cat has been winking at you, and you're sure that it isn't because of some kind of health issue, relax and appreciate it. Your cat loves you, enjoys your company, and wants you to know it!

Cover photo: Unsplash/Alisa Matthews

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