The month of September is Happy Cat Month. We humans tend to take smiles for granted as a sign of happiness, but the evolution of these and other facial expressions was a big deal for animals. Smiles and other expressions allow us to communicate our emotional state to others. Among primates, as social living became more important, the ability to quickly indicate fear, mating status, lack of threat and more helped our ancestors survive in the wild.
Since cats are mammals too, we share many things in common with them. Smiling, however, is not one of them. When a cat shows his teeth in a way that might look like he’s grinning, it’s probably more of a grimace as he’s trying to pick up odors in the air, or is angry and ready to use those teeth to bite into someone.
How To Spot A Happy Cat
According to the Arizona Humane Society, these facial features are how cats show happiness:
- Relaxed cheeks that are not pulled in
- Open ears that are facing forward
- Closed, relaxed mouth
- Wide open eyes that are focused on you
- Whiskers that are pointed outward and not spread apart much
Humans tend to rely a lot on facial expressions, but cats use their bodies to communicate how they feel. A happy cat will tend to hold its head and tail high, with its tail raised upward and fur lying flat on the body.
Ways To Increase Your Cat’s Happiness Quotient
Looking for some ways to bump up the happiness factor for your cat? Here are some suggestions:
- Schedule regular play sessions. This is a great way to build the bond between you and your cat, and helps relieve boredom for him. A bored cat can often be a destructive cat, not good for you, or him!
- Introduce a new toy. I know what type of toys my cat Marty prefers and give him a new one every month or so. Rotate toys often to prevent cat boredom.
- Spend some one-on-one quiet time with your cat. It’s easy to get busy and not spend as much time with our feline friends as we, or they, might like. Schedule some quiet time, I like to do this on Sunday morning without the TV on, simply reading and relaxing. Take time out to relax! Cats pick up on our energy. When we relax, our cats do, too.
We all strive for a happy cat, so in observance of Happy Cat Month, spend some time hanging out with your feline friend. It’ll make him happy, and you more relaxed!