What Does It Mean When a Cat Winks at You?

What Does It Mean When a Cat Winks at You

At some point in time, all cat owners have wondered- “What does it mean when a cat winks at you?” While some have arrived at logical reasons, others have reached or suspected biological causes. Nevertheless, Google has provided tens if not dozens of answers.

However, that may have left an individual even more confused. The person may have become unable to pinpoint a specific reason and concluded that it is a health issue. For that reason, we will discuss the various causes or motives of a cat winking and what lies behind it in actuality.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Winks at You? – Outline

Winking refers to the act of making a unique facial expression that involves closing any one of the eyes for a brief moment. For humans, it generally serves as an informal method or way of communicating with others non-verbally. A wink can get used to signal some hidden intent or knowledge to another person or party.

In the case of cats, the purpose may be different. Conventionally, a cat may wink at a person or another of its kind to show trust. It is an indication that the animal feels secure and relaxed around the other party.

Nevertheless, the reasons may vary depending on the speed, frequency, smoothness, and other factors associated with the wink. It may indicate a natural facial movement or a hidden or underlying issue with the eye. In this article, let us find out what may be the various causes.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Winks at You? – Explanations

As already mentioned before, the cause of a cat winking can vary immensely. A few of these reasons may consist of the following:

  • Affection and Trust

Unlike popular belief, cats are sociable creatures. The sole difference with dogs is that they become close only to the people or animals they feel comfortable around. For that reason, they show love and care to a selected few humans.

Numerous methods exist in which a cat displays or demonstrates its affection. They consist of rubbing the feet with their bodies, nibbling on their owner’s fingers, kneading on blankets, etc. Winking is another way of showcasing their fondness and friendliness.

A cat may wink at its owners or loved ones to show that they care for them and trust them. In addition to that, they do so to display their comfort and happiness. Overall, the winking indicates that the animal feels safe with the human at whom they wink.

However, the winking speed may depict different emotions and feelings of the cat. Generally, the slow ones show love, relaxation, and comfort. On the other hand, fast winking may indicate that the cat understands what its owner says and acknowledges it.

This sign of trust and friendship can get considered a significant milestone and achievement for most cat people. It can get owed to the generally indifferent and aloof nature or character of different and distinct types of cats.

  • Non-Aggression

A cat winking at a human and at another cat has different meanings. The former can serve as a symbol of affection and trust. However, the latter means something else entirely.

A cat may wink at another cat to show that it means no harm. It may be a sign of non-aggression and depict that it is not a threat to the other party. A cat generally displays such behavior in the world and when it faces danger.

  • Nictitating Membrane

The nictitating membrane, or the third eyelid, refers to a translucent film inside a cat’s eye. It moves diagonally, starting from the inner corner and reaching the other end. Overall, a nictitating membrane remains present in all cats.

The nictitating membrane serves various purposes in a cat. It helps keep the eyes moistened and prevents them from drying up. On top of that, it keeps dirt and dust particles from reaching the inner part of the eyes.

Since the nictitating membrane is semi-transparent or translucent, it allows a cat to see clearly. In other words, it does not impair vision. Typically, humans cannot notice this third eyelid due to its fast movement.

Another reason why humans may be unable to see the nictitating membrane can be because cats generally blink when the film moves. They conventionally do so using two eyes. However, they may wink using one eye in specific cases.

Cats do so when their eyes get dry with something stuck inside them. In such instances, the nictitating membrane tries to remove the foreign particle using its diagonal movement. When that happens, a cat may wink using one eye.

  • Eye Irritation or Issue

Usually, the movement of the nictitating membrane accompanied by a cat’s wink is sufficient to remove any foreign particle that may irritate the eye. However, the dirt or dust may remain stuck even after that in some cases. A cat may wink continually and for an extended period if that happens.

In addition to that, a constant winking action may indicate or aim at some eye issue. It can be an irritation, infection, or something even more grave. Immediate diagnosis, analysis, and treatment of the problem should get initiated in such circumstances irrespective of the cause.

The eye issue can get confirmed through specific behaviors displayed by the cat. It can consist of redness, watering, and rapid winking. On top of that, the problem may be solemn if the animal rubs its eyes continuously and vigorously.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Winks at You? – Eye Problems

The eye is a delicate part of the body that requires appropriate care and protection. Any issues with it must get treated and rectified as soon as possible. It stands true, even for a cat.

Such eye problems may get indicated by frequent and rapid winking. It may be signs of damage, irritation, or infection. A few common eye issues that cats remain prone to include pink eye, corneal ulcers, traumatic injuries, etc.

Such issues become exceedingly painful for the animal because several nerve endings remain densely packed in the eye. For that reason, an individual must keep an eye out for the symptoms that may appear. Some of these indications consist of the following:

  • Yellow or white sticky discharge
  • Tearing’
  • Cloudiness over the eye surface
  • Over-grooming
  • Protruding nictitating membrane
  • Redness and inflammation

Overall, some of the most common eye issues seen in cats may consist of the following:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Allergies
  • Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract

What are Some Other Eye Languages Displayed by Cats?

Besides the emotions and feelings conveyed by winking, a cat may use other eye languages. It can be to show and deliver their thoughts and moods. A few of these approaches consist of the following:

  • Fully Open

A cat may show its alertness or wariness with fully open eyes. It implies that it pays complete attention to something or someone and refuses to turn away from it. This sense of caution may be due to fear or anger.

  • Half-Closed

Like humans, a cat’s half-closed eyes indicate that it feels sleepy and wishes to sleep. If it does so in front of a human or some other animal, it may also mean that it feels safe and comfortable around them. In other words, the cat is willing to entrust itself to the others when it remains unguarded.

  • Dilated Pupils

Generally, dilated pupils of all animals can indicate or show fear, excitement, hostility, or aggression. A cat is no exception to the case. Nevertheless, dilated pupils may also depict submissiveness or nervousness, depending on the situation.

  • Constricted Pupils

Constricted pupils may show that the cat is angry for some reason. In some cases, it may serve as a sign of the animal’s confidence, calmness, or contentment.

  • Staring with Dilated Pupils

A cat may stare to observe its opponent and find their weak points. It may help the animal size the opposing party. Thus, staring with dilated pupils may indicate hostility and aggression and remain accompanied by threatening behavior.

  • Eye Contact Avoidance

A cat may avoid eye contact with its owners or another animal to show that it likes someone else present in the room more than the former individuals. Hence, it helps show favoritism and friendly intention towards a specific human or animal.

Also Read: 13 Reasons Why Your Cat is Yawning


A cat may wink for various reasons. It may consist of ways to show their friendliness or comfort with someone else. In other instances, it may be due to their nictitating membrane or because of some eye problem.

Generally, a cat may wink fast or slow and at regular intervals. It is a normal behavior they display, and there are no issues with it. Most of the time, it can be because they wish to expel some foreign particles like dust or dirt from their eyes.

However, the matter becomes serious when a cat starts showing irregular actions. One of them can consist of frequent, vigorous, and rapid winking. It serves as an indication of some severe issues or conditions related to the concerned eye.

In these scenarios and circumstances, the cat must get taken to the vet with haste. They must receive an immediate diagnosis followed by the appropriate treatment. Otherwise, the problem may become detrimental and incurable if left untreated for a long time.