Signs of a happy cat play an essential part in the relationship between owner and cat. The tell-tale sign of a happy cat is a confident one. Confident cats don't hide away to stay out of trouble or to avoid a local bully, and they show their inherent curiosity most of the time.
Cats indicate their confidence with a number of physical cues. They hold their heads high, they demonstrate a real interest in their environment (even though they may still be sitting quietly) and they keep their ears up and eyes wide open. Tail twitching is often, but not exclusively, a sign of confident interest in their surroundings.
Sleep is important to cats but happy cats seem to sleep less. Where they choose to sleep can also give us a clue about how content they are. An unhappy cat will hide itself away and may not want to sleep where it usually does. If your cat chooses to sleep with you or the dog that's a sign that she's happy and relaxed. Some cats have a number of places that they choose to sleep and changing sleep habits shouldn't be taken too seriously.
A cat that doesn't eat, and sleeps or hides away a lot more than usual, could be masking some underlying health condition. Keeping a quiet eye on things may alert you to potential problems a bit earlier.
Even older cats still love to play - just watch them when they kill a mouse. Very often they will play with it for some time, even if they have no intention of eating it. Playful interaction with their humans is a good sign of happiness and also a sign of engagement with life. Cats are as happy chasing a feather, or the end of a length of wool, as they are with any shop-bought toys. But, like humans, they love variety. Investing in a number of different, simple toys will give both you and the cat pleasure.
There is a school of thought that says that it is the interaction with humans that cats enjoy most in play. There are several other areas where that interaction is important.
The way your cat greets you is a good sign of happiness. When your cat comes running up to you with her tail and ears upright, rubs around your legs and waits for you to stroke her, that is a good sign of happy interaction. Even when what she really wants is food! So too are those moments when she curls up on your lap or next to you on the sofa, purring loudly.
Some breeds are particularly vocal but most cats will greet you with their own distinctive sound. Many cats have different sounds for different needs. You may already know the sounds your cat makes at different times. Not all cats are highly vocal. It is the pattern of vocality that will tell you if things are different. And, is a sign as to whether your cat is more or less relaxed and happy.
As solitary hunters, cats stalk and pursue their prey silently to avoid the need to share any kills with competitors. Similarly, a sick or injured cat would need to remain entirely silent to avoid drawing attention to any injuries or weaknesses that would make it vulnerable to competitors or predators. So, a vocal cat is usually happy and confident to communicate with you.
Cats which will not settle near you are not usually confident in that situation. Conversely, when your cat curls up near you and allows you to stroke her, or loses herself in a moment of purring, these are good signs of being relaxed. It shows she she is confident and comfortable in your presence.
You may sometimes notice your cat kneading with her paws. Kneading is a throwback to the time when she was a kitten and would knead her mother's teat to get milk. This is a behaviour that is associated with contentment and security.
Cats are a great example of the need either to fight or flight. Their senses are highly tuned and their natural agility and athleticism equips them to do either at a moment's notice. In any situation where they may not feel entirely safe they are ready to spring into one or other of those actions. So, when your cat is lying flat out on the bed or stretching with legs in the air, these are signs that she is happy, contented and relaxed.
We all know that cats are fastidious creatures. As well as being secretive about their toileting habits, they spend much of their waking time in grooming themselves. And, sometimes you or the dog too! Grooming can only be done in a secure environment as the process requires the cat to be less focussed on what's going on around her. This would make her vulnerable in any situation where she didn't feel entirely secure.
When a cat stops grooming itself, that is usually an indication of stress, unhappiness or possibly a sign of illness.
We don't always appreciate the delivery of a live frog, a starling or a dead mouse to our kitchen or bedroom. So, try to remember (in your cat's mind) this is a demonstration of her willingness to share her prey. That funny noise that she makes when she brings that gift in for you is more than just her hunting sound, It's a signal of trust and security and a definite sign of a happy cat!
Perhaps it's the ultimate demonstration of how happy our cats are with us. As others have commented, it's one of the real privileges of having a loving relationship with a cat.
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