Body language of a happy cat
Every cat has a unique personality and temperament. Some are more social, some are frisky and playful, while others are cool, calm and collected. But there is still a range of common signs in every cat’s body language that lets us know that he or she is happy.
Firstly, cats express their feelings physically. If you are greeted with face licks first thing in the morning or met at the door with shin rubs after a day at work, it’s likely that your cat is happy. His tail will be upright and straight, and his ears will be erect. Rubbing his ears, face and body around your legs and ankles, which is both a sign of affection and a way for your cat to mark you as their property, is also a sign of contentment.
Observing your cat’s resting behaviour can also give clues to their happiness. A happy, relaxed cat may lie on her side, with her tummy exposed. Or the “perch” – resting with her feet underneath her body, front paws tucked under and her eyes half closed. This tells you that your cat feels relaxed and at ease. A cat that is not happy will not settle or get comfortable. Her body may seem rigid and tense or she may be restless.
Behaviour of a happy cat
The sounds our cats make can give us more clues as to their emotional state. Meowing is a form of communication and purring usually indicates a happy cat (although this can also be a sign of illness or hunger). Just like humans, a chatty cat is usually a happy cat. Also, a higher pitch can be an indication of happiness – we all know that awful sound of a male cat calling at midnight – lower pitches are usually a sign that they are frustrated or want something (in this case, a fertile female). Being vocal is usually a great sign that Kitty is content.
“Nesting” on your lap with a hearty purr is a clear sign of a happy cat. Most unhappy cats do not enjoy physical affection. Kneading you or her bed (or another cat) with her paws is another happy-factor – this behaviour comes from kneading their mother while nursing as a kitten and is a sign of trust and contentment.
Another sure sign is playful behaviour. Even elderly cats will have a sense of fun when happy although their energy levels may be slightly diminished and followed by a long cat nap. They will interact with members of the household and enjoy play in whatever form. Your cat will show you he wants to play in several ways, such as lying on his side, tail twitching or darting from one side of the room to the other.
Grooming habits of a happy cat
Grooming behaviour is a great indicator of a cat’s physical and emotional wellbeing. A happy and healthy cat keeps himself clean and will even venture to grooming other cats or his human. Cats that are unhappy or have an underlying condition may stop grooming altogether, a clear sign that a vet visit is needed. Cats are not scruffy by nature and you can tell just by the way a cat looks that they are healthy or not.
Sleeping & eating habits of a happy cat
Happy cats follow usual routines. If their eating or sleeping patterns change, this may be an indication that something is wrong. Is she sleeping more than usual or refusing food?
A happy cat prefers to sleep socially with other cats, if there are others in the household, or next to her human on the couch for a little nap. If your cat sleeps with you on the bed, it shows that Kitty is content and completely trusting of you.
A healthy appetite is also a sign of a happy cat. Your cat will ask for food by vocalising, rubbing her body around your legs and leading you to her food bowl, literally. By doing this, she is telling you that she knows you are the one who looks after her and that she trusts you.
How can I make sure my cat stays happy?
If a cat’s basic physical and emotional needs are met, they will be happy. A healthy cat is a happy cat.
Make sure you keep her vaccinations and annual vet check-ups up to date to prevent illness and identify problems early. Also ensure you maintain a regular pest-protection routine as fleas, ticks and mites can cause discomfort, stress and unhappiness. Use a product like Bravecto® Spot-On for cats which will protect your kitty from tick, fleas and ear mites for 3 months. Bravecto® Plus for cats will protect against ticks, fleas and heart worm PLUS treats intestinal worms and ear mites. Also, choose a high quality animal protein-based diet for your cat and stick to a regular feeding routine.
While a cat’s life of sleeping and lazing in the sun may seem low-maintenance, they can become bored which leads to restlessness and stress. To keep life interesting for Kitty, regularly interact and engage in play or games. Something as simple as a scrunched-up piece of paper will suffice. This will help to maintain your cat’s mental and emotional health which, in turn, will keep them happy.
If you are concerned that your cat is not happy or displaying any unhappy behaviours, consult your veterinarian. He or she will be able to assess your feline friend for any illness or health issues and can best guide you and your kitty back on the branch of happiness.