Our cats talk to us, but can they tell us if they are happy?
Felines communicate differently than dogs, but they will definitely let you know if they are unhappy. Have you ever had a problem with a cat peeing in an inappropriate place? Or meowing endlessly to get outside where they are not safe? Here are some signs that show your cat is happy.
8 Signs Your Cat Is Happy
1. They are eating healthy amounts of nutritious food and drinking water.
Is your cat healthy and happy? Just like humans and dogs, cats need plenty of fresh water and nutritious food. You don’t have to buy premium cat food, but do your homework and ask your vet about what kind of food provides a healthy, balanced diet.
Learn about household toxins, including plants, that can cause health problems for cats. And don’t feed people food or cow’s milk to cats; it’s not good for them.
When it comes to water, most cats do fine with a shallow and wide stainless steel water bowl, but if they seem like they aren’t getting enough water, some pet parents use water fountains.
2. They are talking to you by purring and meowing.
Do you speak your cat’s language? Cats have a full range of vocal expressions.
One of the most obvious signs of happiness in cats is purring. It’s true that purring can also indicate stress, but most pet parents can easily tell the difference. If your cat seems relaxed while purring, they are probably blissing out.
What about meowing? It can be a little confusing to tell if they are asking for more food or a play session—or just saying they love you. But in general, a higher meow indicates happiness, and a low one means they are not happy, especially if you hear a growl.
3. They want to be near you.
First of all, it’s completely normal for your cat to not be glued to you all day. Cats are both predator and prey animals, so they won’t always want to be snuggled up to humans. Some of them find enjoyment by hiding or looking down on you like leopards in trees.
Cats are happy getting their beauty sleep. And they need to sleep a lot—from 12 to 16 hours a day. My cat Pearl likes to be near me, but she doesn’t always want me to touch or pet her. Sometimes she simply wants to take a nap in the same room where I am.
It’s also a good sign when your cat rubs up against you, using the corner of their mouth to release their scent glands. That’s their way of claiming you as their person.
Kneading (or “making biscuits,” as some people call it) is another sign of a happy cat.
If your cat is near you and using their voice to ask for something, they might want to play, show you their toy (they think we people need help feeding ourselves, and they hunted down a yummy treat just for us), or want attention.
4. They are entertained.
Cats have strong hunting instincts, and providing play sessions and safe cat toys is part of our job as their human servants. You can buy them toys that move so they can chase and fetch them. And they also love to hide and pounce from cardboard boxes and paper bags (which cost nothing).
Some cats love hanging out on a cat shelf or a window-mounted cat bed under a window where they can safely enjoy nature. Some people invest lots of money in cat furniture and buying or building “catios,” enclosures that allow cats to safely enjoy the outdoors. But remember, catios are open to the fresh air, so they won’t fully protect your pet from parasites like mosquitos, fleas, or ticks.
5. They are grooming (and groomed).
Healthy, happy cats do a great job of grooming themselves. And is there anything cuter than the way they wash their faces?! When cats groom themselves, it is a sign of contentment.
But there are some grooming jobs that we need to help them with: nail trimming, brushing, and removing mats. It’s good to stay on top of these grooming tasks to keep your cat happy and to keep vet bills down. Long-haired cats have special needs when it comes to grooming; they sometimes need their mats trimmed or shaved. Otherwise, the mats can be painful or the skin under the mat can get infected and smell bad.
6. They are using the litter box.
Most cat owners have had the unpleasant experience of a cat peeing or pooping outside the litter box. This is a clear sign that they are unhappy or not feeling well.
If they’re unhappy, they may not like the type of litter, the location of the litter box, the litter box itself, or that it’s not clean enough for their delicate sense of smell. Or it may be because they’re stressed out due to a change in the house such as a new resident (people or pets) or a change in the furniture.
If they’re not feeling well, it could indicate a health problem, such as constipation, a kidney problem, infected bladder, or even the inability to pee. Pay close attention to this, and get them to a vet if they are straining, hiding more than usual, or if there is blood in their urine.
7. They are showing you their tummy.
When a cat rolls over to show you their tummy, they are demonstrating that they trust you. They usually do not want a belly rub. Sometimes they want to kick and bite you because they are really small tigers in disguise trying to kill their prey.
8. They have a happy tail.
Cats’ tails are like flags that send signals about their level of happiness.
A tail that is standing straight up, with a pleasant swoosh at the end, means a happy cat. A hook at the end can mean they are extra happy. And that’s how they are showing it.
A big, bristly tail is a warning signal. They might be scared of something and express themselves that way.
With all creatures, learning to read and communicate through body language is an important part of living together.