How do you know if you’re living with a happy cat? Since cats are mammals too, we share many things in common but smiling 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.
The evolution of facial expressions was a big deal for animals. 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.
We tend to rely on facial expressions to interpret emotions, but cats use their entire bodies to communicate how they feel. A happy cat will tend to hold his head and tail high, with his tail raised upward and fur lying flat on his body.
According to the Arizona Humane Society, these are some signs of a happy cat:
- 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
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. It’s a good idea to rotate toys since cats tend to get bored with toys pretty quickly.
- 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. Our cats pick up on our energy, so when we’re relaxed, they usually are too.
We all strive for a happy cat, so spend some time hanging out with your feline friend. It’ll make him happy, and you more relaxed!