Why Do Cats Wink? 8 Common Reasons Cats Wink and Blink

why do cats wink?

Cats have many strange and adorable quirks, and winking is one of them. Why do cats wink? There are a few different reasons for this behavior, some voluntary and some involuntary.

Sometimes we get so used to our cats that we don’t notice their little quirks and habits until one day, you see your cat wink at you, and it makes you laugh. But why do cats wink? Are they just blinking, or is it because they’re plotting something sinister? Perhaps there is another explanation for this odd behavior?! Well, read on; we’ve researched what science says about feline facial expressions!

Why do cats wink?

Why do cats wink? Winking is one of the ways that cats communicate with humans and with each other.

1. Communication

Cats use winking and other facial expressions to communicate their feelings to other cats and their human companions. It’s a way for your cat to tell you if he or she is happy, scared, or angry. 

Winking is a common way for cats to show that they’re happy because it’s a relaxed and content facial expression. When your cat winks at you, it’s a sign that they trust you and feel comfortable in your presence.

Cats don’t like looking directly at each other as staring is considered threatening behavior. Cats with a stand-off will stare at each other, which is regarded as a sign of aggression. A content and happy cat will squint or blink slowly rather than holding eye contact, which signals that there is no threat. 

2. Sleepiness

In some cases, cats will wink when they’re feeling sleepy. This is usually a sign that your cat is getting ready to take a nap or has just woken up. It’s similar to how humans might rub their eyes when tired. Cats like to take short cat naps during the day and night and are light sleepers. This goes back to their wild ancestors, who needed to sleep lightly in order to wake quickly if there were any threats.

Domesticated cats act in the same way as their wild cousins and take short cat naps. They are sleepy a lot of the time, and the average cat will sleep 70 to 80% of the time or up to 20 hours a day. The exact amount of time a cat sleeps will depend on many factors, including their age and health. If you think your cat is winking or blinking due to tiredness, give him the time and space to have an uninterrupted cat nap.

3. Stress

Cats can also wink when they’re feeling stressed out. This is usually a sign that the cat is uncomfortable or feeling threatened. You might see this facial expression in cats who are new to a home, for example, or in cats who are being bullied by other animals in the house.

As mentioned above, cats don’t like to look directly into each other’s eyes and will instead squint when looking at another cat or even a human. Staring is considered a sign of aggression, so a cat will squint or blink to show that they are friendly and don’t mean any harm.

Why do cats wink? Winking may be caused by an eye infection or health condition.

4. Eye problems

A cat’s wink may be due to an eye infection in some cases. If your cat has been blinking more than usual, rubbing his eyes with his paws, or showing signs of pain and redness in his eyes, it’s time to take your cat to the vet.

Common eye problems affecting cats include conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and glaucoma. A cat with conjunctivitis will have eyes that look sore and pink. There may also be discharge around the eyes. Blepharitis is a condition that causes the cat’s eyelids to become inflamed, while glaucoma affects the pressure in the eye and causes it to produce excess fluid.

5. Genetic disorder

A rare genetic disorder called facial myokymia causes cats to wink involuntarily. This condition can be caused by muscle spasms around the face. Cats with this disorder have trouble closing their eyes completely and may even drool excessively.

6. Allergies

Cats can suffer from allergies just like humans do. In fact, many cats are allergic to dust, pollen, and other environmental irritants such as mold or mildew. If your cat is sneezing and tearing up a lot, it might be due to allergies, and you’ll need to take him to the vet for treatment.

It’s also worth noting that cats can be allergic to their litter, especially if it’s dusty. Digging in a litter with small particles can cause allergies and eye issues.

7. Something in the eye

If your cat is rubbing his eyes a lot and seems to be in pain, take a closer look at their eyes. Something caught in the corner of their eye might need to be removed. Like humans, cats can get dust or fur in their eyes. If this is the case, blinking or winking may be accompanied by swelling, redness, and pawing at the eye.

You may also be able to see the nictitating membrane, or the eye’s cornea may be damaged. If your cat has eye issues and you think he’s been poked in the eye or has a foreign body in his eye, you may need to seek veterinary attention.

8. Old age

As cats age, they will naturally start to show signs of slowing down and losing energy. This can result in your cat becoming less active and more lethargic than usual, which might cause them to blink or squint more often than normal. Additionally, older cats occasionally need eye drops to keep their eyes moistened and comfortable throughout the day. Like humans elderly cats can suffer from cataracts which make the eyes look cloudy. 

When does winking become a problem?

If your cat seems to be winking more often than usual, or if they’re wincing in pain when they blink, it’s time to take them to the vet. They might have an eye infection that requires medication. Here are six common conditions that can affect cats:

  • Conjunctivitis which is also known as pink eye
  • Blepharitis is a condition that causes the cat’s eyelids to become inflamed
  • Glaucoma affects the pressure in the eye and causes it to produce excess fluid
  • Cataracts which make the eyes look cloudy
  • Corneal ulceration if there is a scratch visible on the cats eye
  • Keratitis, causing inflammation of the cornea. 

Please note that this article does not constitute medical advice, and you should seek help from a vet if you are at all worried about your pet. 

Final Thoughts

So why do cats wink? The answer is different for every cat, but it’s a way for them to communicate with their human companions and other cats in most cases. Now that you know some of the reasons cats wink, you can better interpret this behavior the next time your cat does it.

If your cat starts winking at you, take a moment to see what he might be trying to say!

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