Your kitty may not have mastered the art of speaking the human language yet, but they can tell you how they feel.
Purring. Most people know that purring is a sign that a cat is happy. It almost always is, but cats can also purr when they are in pain or stressed, such as at the vet’s office. Purring combined with any of the other signs and signals listed here, though, shows your kitten is feeling happy.
Chirruping. Not all cats chirrup, but when you hear this trilling sound, you’ll know your cat is happy. A chirrup is often an invitation to follow your cat somewhere (the treat jar, perhaps?) or to ask for affection or play.
Greeting meows and conversation. Cats don’t meow to each other, but a happy cat will meow and talk to their humans. You can learn more about why cats meow and become a conversationalist with your happy and chatty cat.
HAPPY CAT BEHAVIOUR
You can tell by the way a cat behaves whether he is happy or not. Look for these signs of a happy cat or kitten:
Eating regularly. Happy and content cats have good appetites and enjoy their food. Many happy cats relish their treats and have routines with their parents around mealtime. If your cat is not eating regularly or his eating habits change, it’s often a sign that something is wrong and a vet visit is in order.
Grooming in front of you. A cat who will come out into the middle of the room, throw up a leg, and begin grooming in front of you feels comfortable and at ease. Regular grooming is also a sign of a happy, healthy feline friend.
Making Biscuits. A good sign of a happy cat is kneading their paws into their bed, blanket, or your stomach. This behaviour is often accompanied by purring, usually another signal of contentment.
Using the Litter Box. A happy cat will use their litter box and is usually more forgiving if its maintenance isn’t quite up to snuff. A cat that is anxious or unhappy may show it by peeing outside the box.
Playing. Happy cats will play with their toys and with other people and cats. Stressed cats tend to hide, avoid interaction, and ignore or refuse to play.
Snuggles, Cuddles, Lap Sits and Co-Sleeping. You’ll know your cat is happy if they show affection to you and want to interact with you. A content kitty loves scratches, snuggles, head bumps, and lap sits. Every cat is different, of course, and some prefer to lay near you rather than on you. In general, though, a happy cat shows it by being close to their human.
BODY LANGUAGE OF A HAPPY CAT OR KITTEN
Slow Blink aka Cat Kiss. One of cutest signs of affection from your kitty kid is the cat kiss. Your cat will make eye contact with you then blink slowly. It’s now your turn to blink slowly in return, then look away. A kitty giving kisses is definitely content.
Arching their back when you pet them. When you reach to pet your cat, do they arch up to meet your hand? How about turn their heads toward you to get just the right angle for chin scratches? These are signs of a happy cat.
Greeting You. If your cat comes to the door when you get home, lifts her head and meows, or gives you a chirrup to say hello, she is a happy kitty.
The Social Roll. “The social roll” is when a cat gets in front of you, puts her head down (often on your feet or shoes) and rolls over, exposing their stomach. Cats do this roll out of affection and happiness to see you. If you’re walking in carrying groceries though, be careful! Kitty’s social roll can become a tripping hazard!
Relaxed Posture. A happy cat will be relaxed when around you. That means they will stretch out long and show vulnerable parts, such as their stomachs. Anxious or unhappy cats will hunker down to hide or get into a defensive position, ready to fight.
Tail Up. You can tell your cat is happy if their tail is straight up in the air, usually with a little curve to the end. Some cats’ tails even vibrate slightly when they are really happy and excited.
IS MY CAT/KITTEN HAPPY INDOORS?
Many people who have indoor cats wonder if kitty is truly happy without going outside. The signs of a happy cat are the same, whether indoors or out, so you’ll know what to look for.
Cats don’t require a lot of square footage to be happy. You can even have a cat in a small apartment, as long as you and kitty work together to share spaces. Cats are territorial, so your home or apartment becomes the turf they will protect, and they will even choose favourite spots as their own. Good luck if kitty’s chosen spots include your favourite chair or pillow — you may lose this battle against your cat’s indomitable will.
Some cats do become bored indoors, so in addition to food, water, affection, and safety, you’ll want to provide some intellectual stimulation for kitty’s curious mind. Toys, cat trees to climb, treat puzzles, and a variety of boxes or places to investigate will help your indoor cat be physically and emotionally happy. It doesn’t take a lot – the paper grocery bag from your shopping or the box from your recent delivery will be new and interesting items to check out and sit in for a change of pace for your indoor cat. If you do want to take your cat parenting responsibilities to the next level, consider throwing your cat a party, in his honour with all of his favourite foods, toys and friends.
YOU CAN DO YOUR PART
Cats need some basics to stay happy and healthy: food, water, a clean litter box, space to nap, toys to play with, places to hide, vaccinations, and a sense of security and care from their humans. To keep your cat happy, make sure they have a safe environment, a properly sized litter box filled with litter they like, and regular routines for feeding, play, and affection. If your cat isn’t showing the signs of being happy, check with your veterinarian about changes you can make to relieve stress and help them feel content.