Have you ever wondered how to make your cats really really happy? Regarding their own health and well-being, cats will often tell us how to give them what they need — we just have to learn to pay attention to behavior and “read” the unique desires of our cats.
Over the course of more than 20 years, here’s what some of my cats have taught me about how to make them happy. Maybe this will give you some ideas about what makes your own cats descend into bliss. Happiness is contagious — when your cats are happy, you will probably be happy as well.
1. Provide windows, sills, and wood stoves
Cats love views, sun, and heat. I work at home, and I’ve watched the progression of the sun through the windows. The cats follow it, placing their bodies to make the most of sun and heat. Cats will spend all day sitting in a window if there’s an interesting view or sunlight to hold them.
One of my enduring memories of my first cat, Cleo, was how she gravitated to the windowsills of my apartment when I brought her home from the Humane Society. The apartment was old and had the old-style wide wooden windowsills, which had been well maintained. Cleo would happily spend the entire afternoon there, chattering at birds and squirrels.
Even when the sun is low, if you have a fireplace or a wood stove, cats will usually happily congregate around the heat and stay there for hours.
2. Snuggle on the bed, privately
Maybe you have a cat like my black cat. This boy loves to snuggle with me on the bed, alone. He has a special way of catching my eye if we happen to both be near the bedroom door. Then he’ll take off, racing into the bedroom and bounding on to the bed.
That’s my signal to jump on the bed after him, gently lay him down on his side, and snuggle snuggle snuggle. He’ll bring his head closer to mine, purring, and he’ll look annoyed if I try to leave too soon. I’ll get a throaty “mrrrt” that probably means something like, “I’m not done yet. More. More.”
3. Provide Supervised Access to the Outside
People differ on this, but I do not let my cats outside — usually. There are all kinds of predators around here that would kill or injure a cat. However, cats do love the outdoors, so I improvise.
For one cat, near the end of his life, I’d stroll with him out in the yard. He wasn’t going to get away, and the time outside (and the scents and the wind) made him very happy. Another orange cat of mine walked on a leash with a harness — I could walk him down the road.
I have, on occasion, tied the cats out on long leads and harnesses when I am also outside, gardening. I keep a close eye on them so they don’t get tangled or snagged on something. Finally, I dream of a screened porch or an outdoor cat enclosure. Maybe someday — for now, my cats get their outdoors time with the ideas above, or by sitting at the screen door and sniffing the air outside.
4. Talk to your cat. Really!
I don’t have any scientific proof, but I’ve had a few cats who really enjoy being talked to, in the best cat language I can attempt. One cat liked to make a “brrrrrt” sound a lot, and it seemed to indicate that she was feeling happy. I’d make the sound back at her, and we’d get a conversation going.
My orange cat (the collaborator — more on him in a minute) makes a sound that sounds like “mrrrrff.” If I make the sound back at him, we’ll go back and forth in this fashion. Yeah, we are weird here. :)
5. Adopt a collaborator
This depends largely on luck, and I got lucky. I adopted an orange cat from the Humane Society. Not only did he integrate smoothly with the others, but he takes care of everyone. All the cats love Chester, and I think of him as the “glue” who holds everyone happily together. Chester has a sunny, caring disposition. He has recently pitched in to help me care for an older ill cat, and he grooms her often. I feel very fortunate for his presence.
6. Praise your cat gloriously and let him soak it up!
I believe that cats can never get enough of us telling them how great they are. Plus, it makes us happy to praise our cats. If we’re happy, good vibes rub off on our cats. Share the love — really, what better way is there to spend time with a cat?
How do you make your cats happy? How do your cats make you happy? Share your stories!