Every September, the CATalyst Council celebrates Happy Cat Month. There are countless ways to give your cat a happy life, limited only by their own specific needs and your imagination. But how do you tell if your cat is happy? People who don’t know cats well may miss a lot of cues. But even people who have lived with cats for decades may miss more subtle signals.
But before I list some happy cat signals for you, maybe I should explain why they’re important to know. It’s because happiness and health go together. If your cat’s level of happiness changes, chances are there is a change in their physical well being too. So keeping track of your cat’s happiness is not only good when it comes to having a well adjusted cat, it’s also a good wellness check.
Your cat may not exhibit all of the follows signals, but chances are if she’s happy, she will show most of them.
- She headbutts you and rubs up against you. This is a sign of affection, a sign of inclusion (trading scents with you), and a sign that your cat is not only happy, but loves you.
- He makes squinty eyes. This is a relative of the slow blink, and shows that your cat is secure and content. (Most of you know this is completely different than when a cat’s in harsh sunlight or something is bothering his eyes. But in case a cat newbie shows up here, this is a reminder.)
- She walks with her tail held high, with the tip just slightly curled. Her tail may look like a question mark. It’s a sign she’s happy, interested and wants to interact with you. Sometimes her tail may even quiver a bit.
- He makes happy paws. When a cat’s on a soft surface and is kneading, that’s a big sign of contentment. It’s often accompanied by other signs of happiness, such as purring or rubbing.
- She’s playful. Even senior cats have their frisky moments, and it’s a big happiness sign. She may not leap into midair like a kitten, but never think your cat is too old to play.
- He loafs. When a cat relaxes with his paws tucked underneath him, it’s a sign of contentment.
- She naps out in the open. A cat that naps in a sun puddle near a window, or on the armrest of the sofa, or anywhere near you is usually pretty happy and feels safe. If a cat hides to sleep, and she doesn’t normally, she may be stressed or feeling unwell. Keep in mind that if your cat had a feral background, she may not be as much of an open sleeper as other cats.
- He will roll over, lie on her back, and expose his vulnerable parts to you. This is a sign your cat feels very safe with you. Humans are always tempted to betray this trusting move by petting or touching the cat. You shouldn’t really, unless you know your cat enjoys being touched when he is like this.
- She has happy vocalizations. This is different for each cat. Nearly all happy cats purr when they are content (yes, cats can purr when they are in pain, but that is usually pretty obvious when it happens). Some cats also chirp, or purr-chirp in a very charming way. And some cats enjoy meowing and having a conversation with their humans. What all of these have in common is that they’re signs of being engaged with life — and with you.
- He is neatly groomed — and he is happy to groom in front of you. A cat that grooms while you are around is self confident, while a cat that is stressed or unwell may stop grooming.
I know this is Cat 101 for many of you. But it’s always good to remind you of these so you can periodically make an assessment of how your cat is doing. Because you and your cat are together on a daily basis, sometimes it’s easy to take things for granted, and you may miss some important signals unless you look out for them.
How many of these do you see in your cat, and which ones? Let me know in the comments!
Other posts you’ll enjoy:
Happy cats are a pure source of joy…Some might say we are spoiled, but we are just really LOVED!…Happy weekend, dear friend…XO…J, Sukki
My Kalie grabs my face with her little paws and pulls me towards her for a kiss.
Catherine Lingg says
Thankfully I think my girls are pretty happy. Princess does suffer with some anxiety but a low dose medicine has worked wonders
Eastside Cats says
We humans LURV to see these ten behaviours, Summer.
Lola The Rescued Cat says
This is a great list, Summer! Lexy and I do all of the above, but we each don’t do all of them. Like, Lexy doesn’t make happy paws, and I don’t do slow blinks. But we do all the rest. Sometimes humans need reminders about these cues.
Those are all things Ava does, Summer. Yay!
Melissa & Mudpie says
I love this! Mudpie is a purrfect 10!
Paws up for all the above!
Judy GQ says
Very interesting, some I didn’t know–thank you Summer! Appreciate the information.
Summer, I do all of those things! I guess I’m pretty happy *purrs*
Cathy Keisha says
When I read the first two, I wasn’t sure I was happy but reading down the list, I see I am. I’ve just started the chirping when the peeps touch me or they’re near in the past year.
Angel Whiskeratti says
Lan does like to sleep on me, often touching skin. I’ve only seen her tum a few times, and she rarely grooms in front of me. We haven’t been together that long though, so we will see. And I don’t know how good she really feels. But she did get very playful the other night, grabbing some feather bits from the wand toy. And swallowed them down before I could stop her! She’s quick when she wants to be. (She rid herself of the feather bits next morning).
Ellen Pilch says
Great post. Maybe my ferals are happy now too as one will play laser with us and I see the others play on the nanny cam. 🙂
Pat k says
Very wise. I have seen all those actions too.
Katie Isabella says
Summer- I do all of those things. XX
MARIETTE VANDENMUNCKHOF-VEDDER says
And all the above points should have been written for: He/She…
Our tiny Tiggy-Tiger girl chirps or purr-chirps! She is so cute and very generous in giving headbutts.
Erin the Cat Princess says
Always good to have a refresheron these points, and to share them around, too.
Brian Frum says
Those really are 10 happy things sweet Summer!