There is nothing more soothing than having a happy cat, curled up on your lap purring gently, and as cat owners, we all want our cats to be happy.
However, while purring is a sure-fire sign that our feline friend is contented, there are some other signs of a contented kitty which are not so obvious.
Here are the top 10 signs that your cat is happy:
Your cat greets you with a warm welcome. You will know your cat is happy by the welcome you get when you first wake up in the morning and come down to give them breakfast, or when you come home from a day at work and they come running up to meet you at the door. Cats express their feelings physically – if they are happy to see you, after you have been away for any length of time, then they will show you with a straight, upright tail, erect ears and by then rubbing his ears, face and body around your legs – just watch they don’t trip you over by rubbing round your ankles!
Your cat is vocal. We all know cats meow but they make all sorts of noises, to ask for food, request a cuddle, tell you they are cold or want to go outside. They also make very specific noises when they are feeling happy and content, almost responding to your chat. The purring sound is a very good indicator that a cat is happy but a cat being vocal is generally a good sign. The more high pitched the sounds are, the better, as sometimes the lower pitch meows can indicate they are frustrated and want something.
The way a cat sits or lies down is a really clear indication that they are happy and contented. A cat which is not happy won’t rest or settle near you and won’t get comfortable. A happy and relaxed cat will rest with its feet underneath its body, its front paws tucked in and its eyes half closed. The half-closed eyes are a really good sign of a happy cat as they are feeling unthreatened. A cat which lies on its back with its legs in the air is also a really good sign of a happy cat.
Settling on your lap and making a nest. Cats have a unique way of showing how happy they are, when they curl up on your lap, besides purring and falling asleep which are the more obvious signs. You may have noticed your cat kneading your lap with its paws, as if kneading dough, and wondered what this was about. It harps back to when they are kittens, and they do this action around their mum’s teat to encourage the milk. It’s a real sign of contentment, pleasure, enjoyment and trust.
Confident behavior is a really good sign of a happy cat. Your cat should be naturally curious about the world around it and confident in its life with you. It will be showing an interest in everything it comes across, or it might just sit and observe quietly but it will still be interested. A cat which is confident will hold its head up, have a good appetite and take an interest in the environment around it. It will show curiosity by twitching its tail from side to side and having wide eyes. Having ears facing forward and relaxed whiskers are also signs of a contented cat.
Playful behavior is a sure sign of a happy cat. Older cats may play less but they still have a sense of fun and will interact in a playful way with owners who make them happy, as well as with other household pets they like and trust. Cats will show you they are happy and want to play in a number of ways, perhaps by lying on their side and twitching their tail. Cats will happily chase lights from laser pens or balls of paper and string, there is no need to buy expensive toys – it’s the interaction which makes them happy.
Having a healthy appearance is a sign of a happy cat. Cats need to be well looked after and by physically content, as well as emotionally happy. If they feel happy they keep themselves well groomed. Cats will groom themselves and keep themselves clean when they are happy. They might also groom other cats or even their owner, to express happiness and trust. If they are not happy, they will stop grooming and become scruffy so you’ll know from the way they look, if something is wrong.
A happy cat will sleep in a social way. When your cat is unhappy it will hide away and sleep a lot more than normal so this is a sign to look out for. However, happy cats sleep less and will choose their sleeping location carefully. A happy cat will choose to sleep with other cats if you have more than one, or curled up next to you on the sofa in the evening. It will choose to sleep socially when relaxed, so if your cat comes to sleep on the end of your bed, while it may not be ideal for you, it’s a sign that he is very content and trusts you completely!
A good appetite is a great sign of a happy cat. They will ask for food from you by rubbing around your legs and meowing, vocally leading you to their food bowl. They are telling you they know you are the one who looks after them and they trust you. Cats are clever creatures and will soon have their owners fully trained to give them treats when required, as well as demanding food, but all of this behavior is a sign of trust and shows that your cat is happy.
Giving you presents is a real sign that your cat loves you and is happy as they are sharing their hard-earned hunting bounty with you and that is a real privilege they don’t afford to many people. It is the ultimate trust. Now, it might be rather unpleasant to find a dead mouse in your kitchen, or a pigeon under your bed (yes, that happens!) but ultimately it’s a sign from your cat that they love you. Cats kill anything from frogs, to mice and birds, and if they bring it to you, consider it as a special present from a happy cat.
We all want our pets to be happy and contented and now you know what to look out for from your cat – if you get dead mice in your kitchen, a cat in your bed at night and lots of vocal sounds, you know for sure you have one happy feline!
Article by Jonas Jurgella, Ph.D – Animal behavior scientist and author of “The Cat Language Bible – how to finally understand and speak with your cat”.