How to be happy (if you are a cat)
It’s ‘Happy Cat Month’ but how do our feline friends show ultimate happiness? We have 10 signs to discuss with owners.
- A healthy appetite – asking for food and being relaxed around people or other cats as they eat is a good sign a cat is contented within their home environment. When away from home creating the same cues they have at home can model this experience – so use the same bowls, feeding mats, food type and a similar location (open or protected).
- Greeting owners on arrival with vocalisation and seeking attention means cats feel confident and secure.
- Showing vulnerability – sleeping in the presence of others, especially if exposing the belly by lying on the back is a sign of a very relaxed cat.
- Vocalisation at a level that’s normal for the individual and the breed. Constant vocalisation especially at night can be a sign that something is wrong. Expect some ‘my young female cat is screaming’ out of hours calls when they first come into season.
- Interaction with people and other animals is another sign of a happy, confident cat – especially kneading with the paws, which recreates the pleasure associated with feeding from mum in kittenhood.
- Play, whether mimicking hunting behaviour or just showing general curiosity. Activity generally is a good guide to happiness – sedentary behaviour is often an indication of joint stiffness.
- Sleep quality should be of normal duration (excessive sleeping can be a way of retreating) and in a usual location. Cats that sleep in more open locations are likely to be demonstrating that they are relaxed, happy and confident compared to those that hide away.
- Using the litter box or toileting outdoors in line with usual habits. Distress can manifest as inappropriate urination or defecation.
- Self-grooming at the usual level to maintain appearance. Excessive grooming or a lack of grooming can be a sign that something is wrong.
- Body language – an upright tail, eye contact and erect ears can all mean a cat is happy but there’s no doubting what it means when the tail starts twitching backwards and forwards and the ears go down. Give them time and space to revert to a happier frame of mind.