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:
- How to Bring Out the Best in Your Cat
- The Facts About Shelter Cats
- 5 Reasons Why I’m an Outgoing Kitty