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Do Our Cats Feel Happiness? 5 Signs & Playing Tips

Written by: Crystal Uys

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

white British long haired cat smiling or happy

Do Our Cats Feel Happiness? 5 Signs & Playing Tips

Research shows that cats have systems of emotions that trigger certain emotional and behavioral responses.1 While cats and humans don’t experience the same range and depth of emotions, happiness is an emotion that cats feel.

Cats may not express their feelings as humans do, so it’s important to identify cues that indicate specific emotions. Learning how cats show happiness can strengthen the bond between you and your cat and make your life together even more enjoyable.

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Top 5 Signs of Happiness in Cats

How happiness is expressed varies from cat to cat, and cats may also show different signs of happiness depending on the situation they are in.

1. Purring

white cat purring
Image Credit: AleksDaria, Shutterstock

A common sign of happiness and contentment is purring. Although there are some cases where cats can purr out of fear or due to an injury, cats mostly purr because they feel content. So, if you see that your cat is lounging or in another relaxed position and is purring, it’s a sign that it’s feeling very happy.

2. Slow Blinking

Happy cats can also blink slowly to indicate that they feel contentment and affection toward you. If your cat is in a relaxed position, makes direct eye contact with you, and blinks slowly, take it as a compliment. Your cat feels happy and is also letting you know that it likes you.

3. Conversations

Some vocal cats may also engage in “conversations” with their owners when they feel happy. If your cat is meowing and looking at you, it’s a good sign that it wants to engage with you. Some cats seem to enjoy it when their owners talk back to them calmly, and they’ll meow back some responses.

4. Kneading

bengal kneading blanket
Image Credit: K Lim, Shutterstock

Another sign of happiness is when a cat starts to knead with its front paws. This behavior is often referred to as “making biscuits” because the action looks like a cat is kneading dough. It’s unclear as to exactly why cats start to knead when they feel happy. Some experts believe it’s because the action is connected to how kittens will knead on their mother.

5. Playfulness

If your cat is feeling content and comfortable around you, it may start to engage with you more. Your cat can start approaching you and rubbing its face on you. A gentle headbutt can also indicate affection.

Just remember that your cat may start to bother you and want to play out of boredom. So, make sure that it’s getting plenty of exercise and stimulation throughout the day. If you have these bases covered and your cat still wants to play with you, it can be because it likes you and just wants to spend some time with you.

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Observe How Your Cat Expresses Happiness

All cats are different, and some might express their happiness in different ways. Your cat might resort to playfulness when they are happy, while others might use purring more consistently. The same is true for receiving physical attention. Getting pet will make their cat feel over the moon but some my not prefer getting pets.

Take a moment and look at your cat’s eyes and slow blink at them. Occasionally, they’ll respond back with a slow blink, and it feels so rewarding.

cat playing with owner
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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How to Promote Happiness in Cats in 4 Ways

While you can’t force cats to feel a certain way, you can do some things to help them feel safe and content. These are some things that have helped me create a happy home for my cats.

1. Establish a Consistent Routine

As creatures of habit, cats thrive off routines. Knowing what to expect can help them feel safe, and many will prefer and appreciate predictability.

2. Create Vertical Spaces

Cats love cozy hiding spots and climbing up to safe spaces where they can perch and observe. Many cats will enjoy having a tall cat tree they can climb. However, you don’t have to install multiple cat trees to create vertical spaces in your home.

domestic cat climbs up the cat pole
Image Credit: vershinin89, Freepik

3. Provide Fun Playtime

Different cats have their own play styles, and finding out their preferences can boost their happiness immensely. Some cats preferred playing alone and were perfectly content playing with a treat dispensing toy by themselves. Another cat loved playing with cat wands and was happiest when she was chasing feathers attached to a string.

4. Treats

Many cats are food-motivated and can’t resist certain treats. Getting to know your cat’s favorite flavors and giving them occasional treats is a great way to boost its mood.

You can also add a little more happiness into a cat’s life with catnip and catnip toys. The smell of catnip can trigger the “happy” receptors in a cat’s brain. However, not all cats react to catnip. Cats that don’t react to catnip may react to silvervine instead.



Cats can express happiness in various ways. Learning about cat behavior and being observant can help you determine how your cat expresses happiness and what makes it feel happiest. It may take some time to understand how your cat shows happiness and affection. However, once you do, it’ll only strengthen your bond and increase the appreciation you have for each other.

Featured Image Credit: Sviatoslav_Shevchenko, Shutterstock

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