One of the most popular choices for pets is cats. Based on a study done in 2014 by Euromonitor.com, it’s roughly estimated that 8% of Dubai’s population are cat owners while 6% have a pet dog. That means that at least 14% of the total population are cat or dog parents, so we can calculate that there are at least 1.3 million pets in the UAE.
Many cat owners admire their cat due to their loyalty, independence, and adorableness. There may be times that they act mischievous, spend their day just sleeping in the corner, or pushing things off your table, but for cat parents, this is a beautiful part of owning a cat. They might consider a cat’s mood swing to be the most lovable part of taking care of them.
Speaking of mood swings, a cat parent should know when their cat is happy, sad, and anxious. Cat parents need to read the body language and behavior of their feline furballs to understand what should be done or not be done.
Cats use many different cues to communicate their feelings, needs, and desires. They may use their tails, their purr, their posture, how their eyes are positioned, and their eyes. When it comes to an understanding a cat’s body language, it is crucial to pay attention not only to physical cues, but also the conditions in which they take place.
The context of the visual cue should always be considered. It is essential to try to see things from your cat’s point of view. People often try to reach out to cats with good intentions, but eventually, gets bitten or scratched, and ultimately blame the cat for being mean and aggressive. We should always have an assessment of how the cat might have perceived the gesture.
With that being said, let’s start with the most prominent way of our cat’s way to communicate how they are feeling – their posture.
How Cats Use Their Posture to Communicate
A long time ago, non-domesticated cats roam freely in the wild. They were running around as predators for small rodents and as prey for bigger wild animals. Every time they encounter bigger predators, they have a sense that they are threatened, or worse become prey. They tend to show that they are bigger and more tensed.
Stretched Out Body
If you see your cat stretching their body out, looking relaxed, they are showing that they do not feel threatened by its surrounding, including people. Meanwhile, a cat that is forming a ball-shape body means they wanted to be alone. They are feeling anxious about their surrounding. Additionally, an anxious cat may crouch down with most of its body touching the ground.
However, a cat stretching out its body does not only mean they are relaxed and in comfort. There may be times that they are stretching out to make themselves look bigger as self-defense against other bigger animals, including people. If your cat bends its back to the top and feeling tense, it may mean that they are angry, fearful, or in discomfort.
One more thing to check out to know when your cat seems like they are anxious and angry, is their fur, especially on their back. An angry cat that stretches out its back with a standing hair means they are trying to become bigger and more intimidating around other pets. Immediately separate your cat and the other pet to avoid aggression.
Lying Down on Its Back
Did you know that there’s s specific term of the position where a cat is lying on the ground flat on its back, with an exposed belly? It is called a Venus Cat Trap. Like what the name says, it is a trap. Cat owners can never be sure if a cat in this position is being comfortable and asking for a belly rub.
Cats flaunting its belly is a visual cue of trust and comfort, but it is not inevitably a request for a belly rub. Many cat parents have tried to caress a cat’s belly but instead, get an aggressive hiss.
How Cats Use Their Tail to Communicate
A cat’s tail is one of the most straightforward visual cues to read to determine a cat’s mood. Let’s see how different cat tail positions tell you about your furbabies’ emotions.
Upright, held straight high
If you see your cat with an upright, pointing high tail, it means they are happy, cheerful, and is most likely approachable. They are showing that they are confident enough to be petted around its territory. You can offer fur rubs and play with your cat in peace with this tail position.
Upright, held curled high
If you see your cat with an upright tail but resembles a curl, or similar to the shape of a question mark, it means they are friendly and want you to pet them. You may reach out to them and play with them or let them sniff your hands to get to know you.
Straight down, on the ground
You should beware if you see your cat’s tail straight down and resting on the ground. They may be feeling agitated and threatened, and this may lead to aggression. As much as possible, leave them alone to avoid biting and scratching. Give them some time to neutralize and be more relaxed.
Curved beneath the body
If you see your cat is surrounded by its tail, usually by their feet, it usually means that they are nervous and ready to submit. There may be hesitation for them to be petted, so let them be the ones to approach you.
Tail fur puffed
If your cat’s tail fur is puffed and being spread out, even more, your cat is feeling scared and angry. Leave your cat alone, as this will result in aggression and may end up hurting you.
Whipping back and forth
You should consider it as a warning if you see your cat whipping its tail back and forth. This is a visual cue that they are afraid of something and aggressive.
Swaying from side to side
You may have probably seen this gesture every time you are feeding your cat. When a cat sways its tail from side to side, it means they are focused on what they are currently doing. It is advisable not to disturb them.
15 Signs that Your Cat is Happy
Now that we have tackled the visual cues for our cat’s comprehensive range behavior, we have to find out what are the signs that your cat is happy. Like humans, they can show it to you in different ways, and they are pretty easy to spot.
1. Happy cats have sparkling eyes.
A cat’s eye is their window through their emotions. A cat that is feeling happy will show a half-closed, relaxed eyes. You should also check if your cat’s blink pattern is slow, which means they are feeling comfortable and threatened.
2. They love licking themselves.
When cats lick themselves, it means they are cleaning themselves. Animal behavior experts have found out that licking releases endorphins through the cat’s brain, giving them an emotional boost. It is a telltale sign that a clean cat is a happy cat.
3. Sleepy Cats
A cat should have a consistent sleeping schedule and sleeping curation. Always monitor your cat’s sleeping habits and make sure that it is normal and not constantly changing.
4. They’re friendly
A happy cat will not hesitate to play with their cat parent. They enjoy sitting in their owner’s lap or by just being near them. Some nights, they enjoy snuggling up with their owner in bed.
A cat making a low, soft purr means they are happy and stress-free. If your cat purrs while nestling with you on your couch, it’s likely a sign she’s happy and content.
Your cat needs to have a regular checkup with your vet. A healthy cat means they are happy and contented. Cats get sick if they are always under stress.
7. Good appetite
If your cat can always finish its food, it is a sign that they are in a good mood. An anxious cat will have no interest in eating as they are too focused on other things.
8. Head rubs
A cat in a good mood loves to rub its head to their cat parent. At times, it will even give head rubs to any object in its path, including our legs. Often, they rub around our legs to get our attention, particularly at feeding time.
9. They’re playful
Playing alone does not always mean your cat is lonely. Cats consider their toys their friend, so technically, they are playing with a friend. A happy cat will tend to become playful with other cats or with their owner.
10. They are relaxed
A relaxed cat is free from stress and anxiety. Like previously mentioned, a cat is relaxed by showing a stretched-out body and a tail that is pointed upwards.
11. They are happy to see you
If you leave your cat in your home for some time, a happy cat has a strong tendency to miss you. Once you arrive at home, they would approach you and rub their head between your legs, and that is an invitation to pet and play with them.
12. They are curious about their surrounding
The saying “curiosity killed the cat” is not valid for a happy cat. You know your cat is satisfied if he seems to enjoy taking some time to understand his environment and is interested in surrounding things.
13. They use the litter box
Believe it or not, a happy cat loves using the litter box. They feel contentment and pride once they have used their litter box, unlike untrained cats. With a contented cat’s confidence in using a litter box, it is essential to clean it regularly.
14. Belly rubs
I may have mentioned that a Venus Cat Trap is always not guaranteed, depending on the other body language; this position shows that they are happy to be petted and be given belly rubs. Always remember the other visual cues before approaching your cat in a belly up pose.
15. Tail Position
I have previously mentioned how to understand our cat’s tail language. If a cat is walking or standing with the tail in an upright position with a slightly bent tip, they are happy and relaxed.
How to Keep Your Cat Happy
Now that we have found out the signs that our cats are happy, how can we keep it that way?
1. Provide them with a variety of cat toys to keep them amused. Having a toy that your cat can play and scratch satisfies their primal need to hunt. This will keep their minds engaged and give them satisfaction. It is advisable also to get a scratch post, to help them have healthy claws.
2. Give them some time outside your house. Cats are curious animals, and after some time, the interiors of your home may bore them—some cats like going out of their usual territory and start exploring the outside world. Bring them out in your garden for them to experience other surroundings. Make sure that you keep an eye on them because they might get out of your vicinity.
3. Buy them the best cat beds for the best sleep of their life. You may offer them a hammock or a castle-like cat house for sleeping. Cats generally need 10 to 15 hours of sleep a day and love to curl up anywhere, from a sunny spot, in a random box, or even on your laundry pile.
4. Give them healthy food and plenty of clean water. A healthy feline is a happy kitty – feeding them quality food and special treats will keep their teeth healthy, fur coats shiny, and their digestive system free of health problems. Avoid feeding cats food meant for humans, as many spices and additives are dangerous to them. Cow’s milk, for example, sounds like a cat’s favorite drink, but cats cannot adequately digest it.
5. Give them tender, loving care that they deserve. Show it by how we interact with our cats and how we respond to them. A cat will stay happy with an ethical and responsible cat parent.