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Cat Preventive Care

6 Signs of a Happy, Healthy Cat

The world loves grumpy-looking cats (just ask Grumpy Cat!). Why? We tend to think of our feline friends as sassy, independent, and apathetic creatures—and for many cat lovers, that low-key attitude is all just a part of their charm.

But are our cats really as unhappy as they may sometimes look? In honor of Happy Healthy Cat Month, here are six ways you’ll know if your cat is living his/her best life (even if s/he’ll never admit it).

 

He’s Using his Litter Box

Where your cat does his business can tell you a lot about his health—and his happiness. If your cat has made a habit of missing the litter box, or eliminating somewhere else entirely, a medical problem or stress may be to blame.

Choose an appropriate box. Make sure your cat has plenty of room to move around and can get in and out of the litter box easily. Give him the pick of the litter. Experiment by offering a choice of litters in side-by-side boxes to see which type your cat prefers. Keep it clean. No one likes a dirty bathroom—be sure to scoop your cat’s litter box twice a day and change litter weekly. Consider your cat’s perspective. Often, litter boxes are located in places that are convenient for humans—and unknowingly cause stress for cats (think a laundry room with a loud washer or dryer). Instead, your cat’s box should be placed in a quiet, low-traffic area. Follow the one for one (plus one) rule. When it comes to litter boxes, there should always be one for each cat, plus one—in different locations, of course.

 

He's Grooming Properly 

A clean cat is a happy cat. If your cat is not grooming as much as he used to, he could be overweight, painful, or just not feeling like himself—all of which warrant a visit to the veterinarian. On the other hand, overdoing it can also indicate a medical or behavioral problem, like anxiety. If you notice compulsive grooming behaviors, such as excessive licking or biting or a thinning haircoat, talk to your veterinarian. And don't forget - just because Kitty is mostly self-cleaning, that doesn't mean s/he might not need a little help now and then. A good brushing can rid your cat's coat of old hairs and improve the bond between you!

 

He Loves his Environment

We tend to think cats have it pretty easy (Sleeping all day? Yes, please!), but the truth is, they can and do experience stress. Environmental enrichment, particularly for indoor cats, can increase physical activity and mental stimulation, keeping behavioral issues at bay. If your cat is living in an environment of plenty—that is, plenty of room, toys, perches, windows, sleeping areas, food, water, litter boxes, toys, and human interaction—chances are, s/he’s pleased.

It's also important to remember what Kitty may prefer. Just because there are several perches, doesn't mean they're in the right spots. Pay attention to your cat to position his/her resources (from perches to scratching posts to litter boxes and more) in a way that makes him/her happiest.

 

He's Sending You Signals

From the tops of his ears (forward and alert or pinned back against his head?) to the tip of his tail (straight up and swaying or rapidly swooshing from side to side?), your cat’s body language speaks volumes about how he’s feeling. Is he kneading you, head-butting, or purring? Congratulations—you’ve got yourself a contented cat.

Pro-tip: If your cat's tail is normally a "question-mark", s/he loves you a lot.

Additionally, if Kitty sits paws tucked under his/her body, that's a sign of contentment, and if s/he sleeps "belly side up" (like the very fluffy kitty pictured on the right!) your cat is extremely comfortable and content. Why? A cat that's stressed will keep his/her paws on the ground in order to run away from danger. As for the belly, that's Kitty's most vulnerable spot. If it's exposed (especially while sleeping), your cat is absolutely secure in his/her safety. That translates to happiness.