We know that as a pet parent, you care deeply about making sure that your pet is living its happiest life. Cats may not make their feelings apparent in the same way that their canine counterparts do, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t let us know how they’re feeling. Take a look at these seven behaviors that cats display when they are happy and see if you can recognize any of them in your own feline!
If your cat shows excitement at mealtime and consistently finishes the food that they’re served, this is a sure sign that they’re happy. When your cat eats fresh, whole food that makes them feel good, they’ll start to see mealtime as a highlight of their day. A happy cat will meet you in the kitchen when it’s time to eat, giving little chirps and rubbing against your legs as you prepare their favorite Freshpet recipe. When it’s ready, they’ll excitedly lead you to their regular eating spot and immediately start eating.
Believe it or not, but you can tell a lot about how your cat is feeling by how they sleep. The first thing you should keep an eye on is the number of hours that they sleep. On average, cats sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day. If you notice your cat sleeping more than 16 hours, or even more than they have in the past, this can be a symptom of depression or illness and you should contact your veterinarian. The second sleep-related behavior to watch for is where your cat chooses to sleep. Happy cats often enjoy social sleeping, which means that they will sleep with those with which they feel safe and comfortable. If your cat chooses to sleep with you or other pets in the house, this is a great indication of happiness.
Your cat’s level of playfulness is another strong indication of happiness. Cats who are feeling depressed will spend their days sleeping, but happy cats prefer to spend their waking hours engaging with their environment. This could mean playing with you, entertaining themselves independently with a toy, or simply exploring different areas of the house – anything that shows your cat tapping into their curious side. A cat’s level of energy naturally decreases with age, but even happy senior cats enjoy some one-on-one playtime with their favorite human.
If your cat tends to sit like a perfect loaf, with their paws tucked under their body, their tail wrapped around them, and their eyes closed or softly open, these are all signs that they are feeling happy and comfortable in their environment. When they’re up and moving around, their tails should be standing straight with the top part hooked over to make a sort of question mark – especially when greeting family members.
A happy cat is a well-groomed cat! If you notice that your cat has been grooming less and their coat is looking dull and dirty, this is a sign of unhappiness, illness, or even injury. Cats who feel good will spend a lot of time grooming themselves and even other cats that they trust. They may even try to groom their human family members, as a display of trust and happiness in their relationship. This grooming can actually help strengthen the bond your cat feels with you, as licking provides an endorphin release.
In most cases, a cat will purr when they’re content – such as when you’re petting them or they’re basking in a ray of sunshine. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that purring is a bit of a complicated behavior, as cats don’t only purr when they’re happy. They are also known to use purring as a way to comfort themselves when they’re hurt or upset. Knowing this, if you see your cat purring at odd times it would be a good idea to book an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues.
The most obvious sign that you have a happy cat is if they seem, well, happy! A cat who enthusiastically greets you when you get home, gives you a head bump when you wake up in the morning, or actively looks for you around the house, is likely content with their life. You may also notice that when you’ve been away from your cat, they spend some time rubbing their head and body against your legs or hands. What they’re actually doing is marking you as their ‘territory’ – in other words, claiming you as their own – which cats only do when they really like someone. Another sign is when you start to pet them, they bump their head into your hand like they want you to pet harder. This is their way of showing they enjoy your company and want more of it!
We hope that this gives you a better understanding of how your cat shows that they're happy. If you’re worried that your cat may be unhappy, start by speaking to your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical causes. If they get a clean bill of health, look into ways that you can enrich their environment. If you don’t know where to start, your veterinarian will be able to recommend a behavioral therapist that can help you better understand your cat and their needs.