Cats have a reputation of being aloof, independent and not particularly affectionate. To the uninitiated, it is easy to see how cats have this poor reputation. After all, cats don’t get excited when you get home from work, are not easily trained and they don’t want to go for walks with you. So how can you tell that your cat is content?
Is this fair? Or is the real problem that people are comparing cats and dogs?
As cats and dogs are the most popular pets in the UK, it’s easy to see why the comparison is often made, especially when it is so easy to see when dogs are excited.
As a proud cat and dog owner, I’m going to stop these comparisons. Comparing cats with dogs is like comparing apples with oranges.
So how can you tell whether you have a happy cat?
We know that each cat is an individual with their own personality. There are some signs that all cats show when they feel relaxed and feel happy. The following are the most common signs, have we missed any?
Happy cats enjoy their food
Your cat will soon learn where and when you will serve dinner. They will greet you by rubbing against your legs and purring. They will also let you know when dinner is late… with a long loud meow. A happy cat has a healthy appetite and will consistently finish her food.
Cats are playful
A happy cat is curious and playful. They will try to explore anything new in their environment. This can lead to some mishaps. My cat wants to explore and we have to make sure that she doesn’t get into the garage or shed in case she gets locked in accidentally. Therefore it’s best to channel this enthusiasm and curiosity into some playtime between you and your cat. A quick and easy toy is a piece of string with a feather tied to it.
Cats greet their owner
Whilst cats do have a reputation for being aloof that’s normally because people are comparing a cat’s greeting with that of an exuberant dog. Any cat owner will recognise the greeting chirrup that cats make and the question mark shape their cat makes with her tail, which is a sure sign of a relaxed cat that is happy to see you.
They will also rub up against your legs whilst arching their back and purring loudly. This is a great time for both of you to bond further. Take the opportunity to stroke their head and back. This will spread their scent onto you confirming you as part of their colony.
Cats have a relaxed posture
Body language is a cat’s first language. They use body language to communicate with each other and with their humans. A relaxed cat will sit with his paws tucked under his body with his tail wrapped around him. His eyes will be closed or softly open.
If you catch your cat’s gaze and they blink at you once, it is polite to return the greeting by gently blinking twice. You can also initiate the greeting when you catch their gaze by blinking once – if they are happy they will blink twice. However, be careful not to stare as this can make your cat anxious.
You may also see your cat spending time with other cats in the neighbourhood. If they are happy in each other’s company you may notice that they yawn. This is a signal to the other cat that they are happily sharing the space.
A relaxed cat will often roll onto their back exposing their stomach. This is a sign that they are relaxed in your company. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that they want a belly rub. If you were to attempt to pet their stomach you are probably going to get a shock as they are likely to bite and lash out with their claws. Stick to stroking your cat under the chin and on their cheeks.
Relaxed cats groom themselves
You can tell a lot about a cat’s level of health from their coat. If it looks glossy and feels soft, then they are probably happy and in good health. Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves and even other cats that they trust. Some will even try to groom their human family members.
However, If your cat’s coat feels gritty or looks dull and dirty this is a sure sign that they are unhappy and could be ill or suffering from an injury. If the condition of your cat’s coat doesn’t improve you should visit your veterinarian to rule out any serious issues such as kidney, liver, thyroid or adrenal problems.
It is a lovely feeling to have a cat curled up in your lap gently purring. Cats purr when a cat is content. Some may purr when they are eating or simply basking in the sun. If you notice your cat has started to purr at odd times, it could be a sign that they are trying to soothe themselves. It is worth checking to see whether your cat has an injury – if you can’t find anything wrong and the behaviour continues you should take your cat to the vet to rule out any health concerns.
When you start to recognise the signs of an affectionate content cat, you will realise that the love that cats feel for their cat parent is just as real as that of the love a dog shows. You don’t have to take my word for it – scientists say felines display similar attachment styles as dogs and children. Why not tell us about your cats in the comments below? Do they love their human families or are they, as people often joke, secretly planning world domination?