Find out how to make sure your cat is happy with advice from our cat behaviour experts
As the saying goes, a happy cat = a happy owner so it’s in your best interest to make sure your furry friend has everything they need to be comfortable and content in their home. If you meet their needs then hopefully you’ll be rewarded with all the joy and head bumps you could wish for, and maybe some cuddles too.
It’s important to remember that just like humans, all cats are individuals, and while one cat may find happiness sitting on their owner’s lap and being stroked, another may enjoy sitting at a distance nearby with their own space. Take the time to get to know your cat and find out what they enjoy, so you can give them more of what they fancy.
1. Plenty of play
Providing your cat with appropriate play encourages them to exhibit natural behaviours and is a great way for you to bond with your cat. Several short play sessions should be incorporated into your cat’s daily routine – ideally 3-4 sessions of no more than five minutes play. Fishing rod toys are great as they can mimic the behaviour of prey. Allow your cat to catch the toy about once every three times they pounce to avoid frustration and release endorphins (feel good chemicals in their brain), and always end the play session with them catching the toy. Laser toys aren’t recommended as they can cause frustration as the cat is unable to catch the red dot. Never use fingers, hands or feet to encourage play, as this can lead to cats directing their play and prey behaviours onto people and causing injury. Provide a selection of toys for your cat to play with on their own, such as ping pong balls which are fun for the cat to knock around, and regularly rotate these so that they don’t lose their novelty.
2. Teach them a new skill
Positive reinforcement-based training is a great way to bond with your cat and teach them some useful life skills. Training sessions should be kept short (about five minutes) and always set your cat up to succeed to avoid frustration. You can find out how to train your cat to sit, roll over, respond to their name and more with our easy-to-follow training guides.
3. Make feeding time fun
Using puzzle feeders for your cat’s meals provides them with mental stimulation and releases endorphins, as well as helping them to build confidence. Dividing your cat’s daily food allowance into a number of smaller meals also facilitates their need to eat little and often. There are loads of options for both dry food and wet food, as well as store bought and homemade feeders. If your cat is used to being fed from a bowl, they might be unsure about eating from puzzle feeders initially. Once they’ve got the hang of it, you can gradually increase the difficulty to keep it challenging!
4. Get to know them
Recognising your cat’s body language, especially the more subtle signs, is an important way to know if your cat is happy. If your cat approaches you with an upright tail, sometimes curved at the tip, this usually means they’re happy to see you. Slow blinking also indicates that your cat feels happy and relaxed in your presence. Your cat may also roll onto their back to show you they trust you – but don’t betray this trust by stroking their belly! If your cat crouches low to the ground, flattens their ears to their head or has very dilated pupils, this may indicate that they are feeling anxious or stressed.
5. Give them somewhere to hide
When thinking about making your cat happy, it’s also important to consider their environment. Cats love getting up high especially when they encounter something that they perceive as stressful. Providing them with lots of options to carry out these behaviours is great for their welfare. Vertical space can be provided by adding cat shelves to your wall, or with cat trees, radiator beds or even just cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes also provide great hiding places, as do igloo beds. If you have more than one cat, make sure that you are providing enough hiding places for all of them, ideally one each plus one extra. This applies to other resources as well, such as litter trays, food and water bowls and scratching posts.
Find lots more help and advice for keeping your cat happy.