5 Signs of a Happy Cat

furry grey cat on white background

Cats are associated with so many things, from nine lives to landing on their feet and sometimes unusual behaviors. If you have feline as a friend, you’ve probably asked yourself what these behaviors mean and how to know when he/she is truly happy. While the answers to these questions are usually easy to find for dogs, they’re not as obvious for cats.

At Los Feliz Small Animal Hospital, we’re quite familiar with the many behaviors of cats. Check out the following five signs of a happy cat and take the mystery out of YOUR feline friend’s peculiar nature.

Give us a call at 323-664-3309 if you have any questions about your cat’s behaviors or if you need to schedule an appointment.


You might think this is an obvious sign, but did you know being happy isn’t the only reason that cats purr? Although happiness is usually the most common reason for purring, cats have been known to purr as a result of nervousness, too, with vibrations ranging from 20-140 Hz. If your cat purrs in the place where he/she calls home, it’s safe to assume that he/she is in a state of contentment.


This behavior (which can be described as gently pawing at a surface, one paw at a time) starts when cats are young, when they “knead” against their mothers to stimulate milk production. Of course, once the milk comes and the kitten gets to eat, the behavior becomes associated with a feeling of satisfaction. Many cats maintain this behavior into adulthood and continue to associate it with a feeling of fulfillment, so the next time you see those little paws pressing against your sofa—or your lap—just know it’s just your cat letting you know he/she is happy with you.

Vertical Tail

Most people know that a dog with a wagging tail is a happy dog, but with a cat, the tail doesn’t quite move the same way, so the movements aren’t as easy to interpret. A thrashing tail is a sign of agitation while a puffed up one is a sign of anger, but a vertical tail is most comparable to a dog’s wagging tail. So when you see your cat’s tail in a straight, vertical position, it means he/she is friendly and in a good mood. Vertical tail = happy cat.

 Head Butting

Yes, you read that correctly. Head butting is a sign of a happy cat, too, and a well-known symbol of affection. When cats rub their forehead against a surface, they’re actually marking their territory by releasing facial pheromones, and whatever area is “marked” is considered safe or “claimed.” Whether your cat butts his/her head or maybe just rubs against you, accept it as a symbol of trust and happiness. Give your feline friend a nice scratch on the head to acknowledge the gesture.

 Back Rolling

Since all the vital organs are in the abdominal and chest area, lying on the back—exposing these areas—is the most vulnerable position for an animal to be in. When your cat puts himself/herself in this position, it’s only because he/she trusts you and feels safe in your company. It probably also means he/she wants something from you, too, like more food or water.

A healthy cat is a happy cat! Remember to bring your kitty in to Los Feliz Small Animal Hospital for routine exams and blood work. Being proactive with your kitty’s healthcare helps us find possible health issues early!


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