The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat–human communication

Humphrey, Tasmin, Proops, Leanne, Forman, Jemma, Spooner, Rebecca and McComb, Karen (2020) The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat–human communication. Scientific Reports, 10 (1). a16503 1-8. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Domestic animals are sensitive to human cues that facilitate inter-specific communication, including cues to emotional state. The eyes are important in signalling emotions, with the act of narrowing the eyes appearing to be associated with positive emotional communication in a range of species. This study examines the communicatory significance of a widely reported cat behaviour that involves eye narrowing, referred to as the slow blink sequence. Slow blink sequences typically involve a series of half-blinks followed by either a prolonged eye narrow or an eye closure. Our first experiment revealed that cat half-blinks and eye narrowing occurred more frequently in response to owners’ slow blink stimuli towards their cats (compared to no owner–cat interaction). In a second experiment, this time where an experimenter provided the slow blink stimulus, cats had a higher propensity to approach the experimenter after a slow blink interaction than when they had adopted a neutral expression. Collectively, our results suggest that slow blink sequences may function as a form of positive emotional communication between cats and humans.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2020 10:58
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2020 11:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/95157

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