The cat is a complex, ultra-sensitive little animal that manifests its emotions in a subtle way. Sounds, contacts and attitudes are his way of communicating with you and with his fellows, but it is not always easy to understand him and correctly interpret the various signals he sends.
Because they are difficult to decipher, the temptation is strong to indulge in anthropomorphism – ascribing human emotions, behaviors, feelings to animals – at the risk of completely missing their real meaning.
Here are some telltale signs that undeniably show that your cat is happy in your company.
The vocalizations: purring and meowing
1 – The purring
This is undoubtedly the most mentioned sign when talking about happiness in cats. This particular sound is characteristic of felids, such as, for example, domestic and wild cats, cheetahs, ocelots, pumas, but it is also found in certain other small carnivorous mammals such as civets, genets …
Its biological mechanics are still poorly understood, so that there are several hypotheses to explain it. Vibrations of the larynx, the vena cava, the hyoid chain, specialists do not all agree. On the other hand, all agree on its meaning and it is quite surprising because this vocalization can occur in two totally antagonistic contexts.
Indeed, your cat purrs when he feels good, under your caresses, when he sits on your knees, but also in case of pain, stress or illness. This low frequency sound triggers the production of self-soothing and self-healing hormones (serotonin, endorphin, oxytocin and dopamine).
2 – The high-pitched and soft meows
It is the most varied mode of expression among our little companions. The different types of meows are numerous and the cat, which uses them almost exclusively to communicate with us, is able to adapt them according to the situations, the environments, his state of mind or his physical condition.
Thus, cats meow in several ways, with different tones, frequencies and amplitudes depending on whether they express a need (hunger, thirst, etc.), an emotion (fear, anger, happiness, etc.) or a condition (pain, stress , sickness…).
However, when your cat “talks” in response to your requests, he emits shrill and soft meows, of low to moderate intensity, small sounds that seem to coo, you can be sure that these are manifestations of pleasure and complicity.
Contacts: rubbing, licking, biting and patounage
3 – Frictions
If you are one of the blessed who live with a cat, you certainly know that adorable moment when, when you come home, your little companion methodically rubs your legs while purring. It is impossible to resist it!
This charming little ritual, which we call allomarking – marking on living beings -, during which it deposits facial and salivary pheromones, is not reserved for your legs, it frequently happens that it does the same on other parts of your body, with a predilection for the face.
This behavior is a calming mark, reserved for familiar individuals with whom it shares its territory, with whom it feels good, neither in danger, nor in competition. It testifies good socialization and a feeling of well-being.
4 – Licking and biting
Licking and biting – light – are part of the cat’s toilet ritual. He untangles his hair with small nibbles and combs it with the licks. However, cleaning his coat is not the only function of this daily routine.
It is also social behavior which he integrated from birth. When his mother did it to reassure him, cuddle him and encourage him or when he engaged, with his brothers and sisters, in mutual grooming, as a pledge of good understanding.
Thus, when your cat licks your hands, ears, gently nibbles your hair, it tells you that you are totally integrated into its environment, that you are part of its “social group”. He is relaxed and totally confident with you.
5 – Patounage
This pretty word, better known as kneading or trampling, designates a behavior as touching as it reveals well-being in the cat. This attitude, natural and innate, is directly inherited from his youth, when he kneaded the mother’s teats to stimulate the flow of milk.
However, when it tends to repeat itself too often, if it is very supported, obsessive, it can also be an indicator of stress. In this case, seeking advice from a veterinarian can be helpful, as the stress that sets in can lead to behavioral problems and illness.
Cats separated from their mothers too early may also have a tendency to repetitive patounage and may even begin to suckle on a cloth, towel or blanket. But when it remains within a reasonable frequency, this natural behavior expresses a feeling of pleasure and comfort.
Attitudes: gaze and positions of the body
6 – The slow blinking of the eyelids
If we know how to observe them finely, the eyes of the cat also offer some useful lessons. Round eyes, wide open, dilated pupils indicate vigilance. Add to it with your ears lowered back and you will have an indication of anger or fear.
A slow blink of the eyelids, several times looking at you and you can be assured that it is totally confident and relaxed. You can even answer him identically, by looking at him and then slowly blinking your eyelids, there is a good chance that a peaceful mute communication is taking place between you.
Indeed, a 2020 study, entitled The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat-human communication, was specifically interested in the role of slow blinking of the eyelids as a communication factor between cats and humans. And the results suggest that they function as a positive mode of communication between the two species.
7 – Straight tail, end curved forward
Another way to find out what state of mind they are in is cats’ tails. Erect and disheveled when they are angry, she is low between the hind legs when they are afraid.
When it is straight and slightly curved forward, it is a sign of positive interaction, a marker of trust and complicity. And if your cat walks towards you, his tail in this position, waving with the little tremor, he is extremely happy to see you.
8 – belly up
The cat sometimes abandons itself on its back, its stomach in the air, in a posture that attracts the caress. But this is not necessarily an invitation to do so. Because it is also, in the event of conflict, a formidable position of defense and it is also sometimes a posture of play. In addition, some cats do not appreciate at all that one touches their belly while others are fond of it.
It is therefore the context in which your little companion finds himself on his back, his stomach in the air that is determining in this behavior. But it is certain that if the latter, on your knees, in the middle of a cuddling session, purrs while showing you his belly, it is because he is in total confidence and happy to be there.
You now know a little more about the particular postures and attitudes that tell you that your cat is happy. But don’t forget the classics!
A healthy cat, nourished healthily, which evolves in a peaceful environment, stimulated by games and cuddles, when it requests them, will be more able to show you its affection with all the little signs that we have just seen. Take care of it, it will pay you back a hundredfold!