Cats bring happiness to their owners all the time. So it's only natural to wonder if your cats are happy themselves. There's no doubt that cats experience a wide range of moods and emotions, just like people. But unlike people, cats can't put their feelings into words. So how do you know if your cat feels awesome, or less than awesome? Thankfully there are many indicators of feline happiness that you can spot by paying attention to your cat's body language and overall behavior. Read on to learn all about the common signs – from purrs to posture – that point to your cat's happiness.
Listening for purrs is one of the easiest ways to identify a blissed-out cat. If your cat is purring, the chances are good they're feeling safe and content. That said, some cats purr when they're distressed – purring is a way to reassure themselves during a stressful situation. So it's good to check for other clues to your cat's state of mind.
Once you get to know your cat, you'll most likely identify them as "talkative" (i.e., they often express themselves through meowing) or quiet. Cats that have a talkative nature usually meow more when they're happy, especially in a high-pitched voice (lower pitches are usually a sign of frustration). And quieter cats are usually silent when they are content, and vocalization can be a sign of unhappiness.
Eyes, Ears & Tails
It's said that eyes are a window to the soul, and it's certainly true that cats can communicate a great deal with their eyes. A slow eye blink from your cat is often a sign of affection, and dilated eyes can indicate arousal and happiness. When a cat's ears are forward and tilted back a bit, this is a sign the cat is pleased and relaxed. And many happy felines hold their tails straight up to let you know they're feeling good.
Heads & Whiskers
Cats often hold their heads high to show they're feeling confident. And if your cat's head is pointed forward, they're eager to greet you. This is a non-vocal way to say hello, and it's often an invitation for you to extend your hand for a friendly sniff. They might rub their head on your hand to let you know they are pleased to see you. Whiskers help cats navigate – even in the dark! – and they also contribute to a cat's overall body language. Whiskers that are pointed slightly forward indicate that a cat is feeling happy and interested. And whiskers that point slightly to the side let you know a cat is relaxed and happy. If your cat is super content, they might even stick their tongue out a little. This is a truly happy cat.
When cats are happy, they often show interest in their environments and engage with their surroundings, either physically or with their eyes from a distance. Different cats play more than others, but a playful cat is generally one that is happy. Playfulness is a sign that your cat is relaxed and feels safe.
A cat that looks good often feels good. That's because cats that groom themselves are healthy and relatively free of major stress or discomfort. If your cat is no longer grooming itself as often or as thoroughly as it once did, it could be a sign your cat isn't feeling well. If your cat grooms another feline, or if they give you a little kiss or lick, your cat is most likely feeling stellar.
A cat that's on its back with its paws in the air is very happy, and if they let you pet their belly, they feel completely at ease with you. (Note: some cats can have great affection for you but never allow you near their belly – so never push a cat into this behavior.) Another sign of contentment is when cats sleep with their paws tucked under their bodies/limbs.
Your cat won't necessarily show all of these signs when they're happy, but they'll most likely show a few of them. If your cat is a match for some of the items on this list, it's safe to say they're happy and comfortable. Not all cats express themselves in the same ways, but once you get to know your cat and familiarize yourself with the signs above, you should have little trouble identifying your cat's individual happiness traits.
By Jay Matthews
About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.