Is My Cat Happy? It Can Be Hard To Tell!
Sure Purring Is A Common Sign, But Can A Purr Actually Have More Than One Meaning?
Don’t Worry! We’re Here To Help.
There Are Lots Of Signs Of Cat Happiness For You To Look Out For, And We Are Going To Explore All Of Them Today.
With Some Great Advice For Cheering Up Sad Cats Too!
There is almost nothing better than having a contented cat.
And as pet owners we, of course, want our kitties to be happy.
How, though, can you tell if your cat is having the good day you want him to?
Welcome to our complete guide to signs of a happy cat.
Finding out how to make your cat happy, and identify happy cat behavior!
What is Happiness?
We do not know if cats experience happiness the same way as humans do.
However, cats that are usually considered happy are those that are safe, secure, and stress-free, which I think we can all agree are good things!
Furthermore, stress in cats is associated with a significantly increase of sickness according to one study in California. In other words, a stress-free, happy cat is a healthy cat!
It is easy to see, then, that keeping your beloved pet happy is important to fending off illness and ensuring your pet a long life.
Plus, who doesn’t want their cat to be happy?
Signs of a Happy Cat
Cats show their happiness in many ways.
Many cat owners know the obvious signs: purring, snuggling, and playing!
However, these signs might not be as straightforward as you think.
Plus, there are lots of other, less obvious signs that you can learn to look out for!
Read ahead to learn how to tell if your cat is happy!
Happy Cat Purring
Every cat owner knows that a purring cat is a happy cat… right?
Despite many cats’ purrs being interpreted as a sign of happiness, cats do not only purr when they are happy.
In fact, a cat purring can also be a sign of pain, hunger, or even just a way to say “hello”.
Interestingly enough, one study in the United States found that a cat’s purr might actually be a healing mechanism!
So it makes sense that they would purr when they are sick or injured!
Don’t rush to the vet the second your feline starts purring though.
Unless your cat has a current illness or injury, odds are their purr is a sign of contentment, not pain!
However, remember that if you ever have any concerns or questions, calling your vet is the way to go!
Cats also purr when they are frightened or stressed to calm themselves. It’s almost like a security blanket!
If listening for a purr isn’t a sure way to gauge your cat’s happiness, then what else can you look out for?
Happy Cat Kneading
Kneading, or “making biscuits” as I call it, is a common motion cats make by pushing onto a soft object with their paws.
It is a very normal cat behavior that is commonly associated with happiness.
What really is kneading, though? And why do cats do it? Is my cat happy when he’s kneading?
No one knows exactly why cats knead, but we do know that it is a behavior they have from birth.
Kittens, when nursing, knead on their mother’s stomach to help push the milk out.
This is actually a common behavior among many species, even humans!
If kittens knead to increase the amount of food they get, then what does that have to do with adult cats kneading?
There are a couple of different theories.
Some scientist believe that kneading is simply a behavior that cats associate with feeling good, and therefore something that they do when they are content.
Others think that it is a territorial behavior, and cats are really using scent glands in between their toes to mark what is “theirs”. Yes, even your leg!
A new theory is that adult cats kneading is a relic juvenile behavior that resulted from domestication.
We naturally liked the cats that were friendlier and resembled kittens longer.
Therefore, we bred the kitten-like cats and kept them around, resulting in this kitten behavior lasting into adulthood.
No matter what theory you go with, though, kneading is definitely a sign of happiness!
Happy Cat Tail Signals
If you want to know what your cat is thinking, look at their tail!
Because tails can move in so many different ways, cats commonly use their tails to communicate.
For example, cats flick their tail from side to side to signal that they want to play, and if spoken to, cats may flutter their tail as a way to say “yes, I hear you”.
So, what are some tail movements that communicate happiness?
An upright, yet relaxed tail shows that your cat is happy and confident. The tip of your cat’s tail can show you a lot as well.
If your cat flicks his or her tail when you walk into the room, she is telling you that she is happy to see you!
You can find out more about Cat Tail Language here.
Happy Cat Head Butting
Has your cat ever walked up to you and butted his or her forehead against you? What is that about?
Is my cat happy when he’s giving me a gentle bop?
Well, cats have scent glands in their forehead and cheeks.
When they rub either you or something else with their head, they are essentially marking you as “safe” and “friendly”.
This pheromone is commonly known as the contentment pheromone, and is a sign that your cat is confident and comfortable!
This pheromone also signals to other friendly cats that the area is safe! It’s like the cat version of writing.
Other cats can smell the pheromone and tell what your cat is saying, even if it was marked days beforehand.
Happy Cat Face
One of the surest ways to tell if your cat is happy is to watch their eyes!
Just like humans, cats communicate a lot through their eyes, especially when they are happy.
For cats, the biggest sign of trust is to close their eyes in the presence of others.
Therefore, if your cat is lounging around with you in the room, it is a sure sign of trust and happiness!
A variation of this is commonly referred to as a “slow blink”.
It is, well, a slow blink, usually while making eye contact with someone. This slow blink is actually an invitation for close contact.
Next time you catch your cat slowly blink at you, try doing it back.
Cats will commonly blink back at you when they want to be pet!
Happy Cat Meow
Of course, another way to tell if your cat is happy is to listen to the meow. But wait, is my cat happy when he meows? Doesn’t this mean he wants feeding or to play?
There are many meows that cats make.
A happy cat meow is one that is high-pitched and short.
Usually, these happy cat sounds will be directed at you, most commonly right after you enter the room. It is your cat’s way of saying “hello”!
Some cats are obviously going to be more vocal than others, so just because your cat isn’t meowing doesn’t mean they aren’t happy.
They just might not be very vocal!
What Makes Cats Happy?
What if your cat doesn’t show these signs? Is my cat happy or does that mean he is sad?
It can go either way.
Some cats are more quiet and independent than others, and might be perfectly happy without showing any sign of it at all.
If you want to take some extra steps to ensure the happiness of your cat, though, there are a couple things you can do.
First, make sure all of your cats needs are met, including their exercise and need to play!
Just like it’s hard for humans to be happy if their hungry, your cat also probably isn’t going to have a good day if they need fed!
Exercise and play are also very important for cats, so be sure to provide your cat with the opportunity to run off some steam.
A safe, healthy cat is a happy cat!
How to Make a Sad Cat Happy
So what do you do if you realize the answer to ‘is my cat happy?’ is a ‘no!’
If all your cats’ needs are met, and yet they still don’t seem happy, it might be time to schedule a visit to your local vet.
Cats are notoriously good at hiding illnesses, so it’s always important to take them to the vet if you get the feeling that something might be wrong.
Even if there isn’t anything physically wrong with your cat, felines can get behavioral and mental illnesses just like humans can!
Take my cat for example: Years ago, my beloved cat, Bella, suddenly stopped acting like herself.
She would appear to have nightmares, have accidents outside the litter box, and would hide under bed for what seemed like days.
Finally, after nearly a year, I decided to take her to the vet.
It turned out that she had a hormonal disorder that basically caused her to feel anxious all the time!
The vet suggested I buy a synthetic version of the contentment pheromone and spray it around the house.
I did, and almost instantly my beloved cat became her own self again!
That just goes to show you that it never hurts to take your cat to the vet!
Is My Cat Happy?
It sucks to wonder to yourself ‘is my cat happy?’
As owners we all want to be confident that our pets are having a great day, every day.
But cats are independent, subtle creatures, which makes it difficult to tell sometimes!
Hopefully this article has given you some insight into your cat’s behavior, and provided you with some ideas to make your cat happy!
If you are worried that your cat might be anxious, you might like to check out our guide to Cat Anxiety. There is information there on separation anxiety, anxious spraying, and much more.
How does your cat let you know she’s happy? Let us know in the comments below!
Stella, Judi. “Sickness behaviors in response to unusual external events in healthy cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis.” Journal of American Veterinarian Medical Association. 2011.
Muggenthaler, Elizabeth. “The felid purr: A healing mechanism?” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 2001.
Achel, Christopher. “Intercat Aggression: Restoring Harmony in the Home: A Guide for Practitioners.” The Veterinary clinics of North America Small animal practice. 2014.
Schwartz, Stefanie. “Separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and cats.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2003.
Bennett, Sara. “Behavior Tips: Basic Feline Body Language.” American College of Veterinary Behaviorist. 2014.
Slater, Margaret. “Physical and Behavioral Measures that Predict Cats’ Socialization in an Animal Shelter Environment during a Three Day Period”. Animals. 2013.
Stella, J. “Effects of stressors on the behavior and physiology of domestic cats.” Appl Animal Behavior Science. 2013.
Amat, M. “Stress in Owned Cats: Behavioral Changes and Welfare Implications.” Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2016.
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