Signs of a Happy Kitty

By Michelle Ullman

Most cats are intelligent and affectionate pets, not the aloof, uncaring creatures that stereotypes suggest. Your cat might not speak in human language, but she still communicates her feelings, wants and moods very effectively. Learning to speak cat tunes you in to your feline’s emotions and strengthens the bond between you. Once you learn to read Kitty's body language and other signs, it's easy to tell when she is feeling happy and in the mood for human interaction.

Body Language

Like most animals, cats use mainly nonverbal communication to convey their feelings. A happy kitty has a relaxed, easy expression and posture. Her tail will be straight up, perhaps with a gentle bend that resembles a question mark. When she's very happy, especially while greeting you after an absence, you might even notice a gentle quiver or shake in her tail. Her ears will be erect and facing forward or very slightly to the sides. Her pupils will be the appropriate size for the room's light, and she might give you a slow blink. If so, give her a slow blink in return to tell Kitty you love her.

Kneading and Head Butting

Most cat owners are familiar with both kneading and head butting. Both are behaviors of happy, relaxed cats. Kneading, often called "making biscuits," is an instinctive behavior from kittenhood. Kittens knead their mother's belly to encourage milk flow. When your adult cat kneads you, she's showing how content, safe and happy she feels to be with you. When Kitty rubs her head and face against you, she is not just showing you affection and displaying happiness, she is also marking you with pheromones that tell other cats, "This human belongs to me."

Purring and Other Sounds

The rhythmic rumbling of a purr is one of the best-known signs of feline happiness. Though definitely associated with good moods, cats sometimes purr when anxious or even injured, perhaps as a method of self-comfort. When Kitty curls up in your lap or next to you, looking content, relaxed and purring, you can assume she is happy. Cats use other sounds to communicate with their humans as well. A friendly meow is usually a greeting or request for food or attention. If Kitty makes little chirping sounds, she is probably asking you to follow her. All of these sounds indicate a happy, content kitty.

Grooming and Affectionate Behavior

Your cat spends a great deal of her waking hours grooming herself, and when she's feeling happy and affectionate, she might want to show it by grooming you, too. Happy cats often lick their owners, even giving little love nibbles to your skin or hair. A trusting, happy cat is likely to roll over and expose her belly. This frequently means she wants a tummy rub, but not always, so watch for signs saying, "Don't touch." If she lashes her tail, rolls onto her side or moves her ears backwards, Kitty is telling you to leave her tummy alone. Happy cats often want to be near their owners, even curled up in your lap or on your chest.