Cats can be very enigmatic and almost poker-faced. Where dogs get goofy, almost-grins, cats often seem devoid of any emotion. Given all the attention they get and the way they seem to love their catnip or a good scratch on the back of the ears or the belly, they must be happy, right? But if their mouths aren't curving up, how do you know if your cat is smiling?
Some cats seem to have "resting smile face" where it looks like their mouths are shaped in a smile, when they're really just sitting there, while others can look like they are scowling or quizzical, even at their most content. It turns out that while your cat might not actually smile like a human would, there are other behaviors they may display that will indicate that they are happy and smiling on the inside. The more time you spend with your cat, the clearer it will be. Some of the cues will be the sounds they make while others will be more visual. Turns out they don't need a silly facial expression to let their owners know that they're happy.
So the next time you're questioning a cat's emotions, look for these clues that will tell you that they're in good spirits.
1. Their Tail Is Stick Straight
Cat's don't wag their tails when they are happy the same way dogs do, but you can still read their emotions via their tails. As the Hill's website described, a waggy motion indicates agitation, a droopy tail can belie anxiety, and the cat "smile" looks like a tail sticking straight up in the air. It's like a kitty mood barometer and one you can spot from across the room.
2. They Purr
A purr can mean a lot of things and they come in different volumes, too. Some cats have purrs you can hear across the room, but others you'll need to cuddle next to for the full effect. Pam Johnson-Bennett of Cat Behavior Associates said that a purr is just like a human smile. Some cats purr when they are nervous, just like people who smile when they're nervous and some cats purr from pure joy.
3. They Meow — A Lot
Cats also communicate their happiness verbally via their meowing. Cats meowing can feel like they are urgently trying to tell us something, kind of like a baby babbling or young toddler speaking gibberish. Just like chatty humans are often in a great mood, The Purrington Post said that a chatty cat is likely happy, too.
4. They Blink Slowly
If a hard, icy stare indicates a challenge in the animal world, one would assume that a cat blinking slowly may mean that they are bored. But veterniary behavioralist Dr. Wailani Sung wrote on VetStreet that a cat blinking slowly means that they are comfortable with you. Take this as a sign that your cat is in a good mood and wants to engage.
5. Their Ears Are Pointed Up
If a cat's ears are pointed straight in the air, according to the Humane Society, all is well and they are perfectly happy. Flattened ears might indicate your cat is angry or scared.
6. They Knead
When kittens nurse, they first make a kneading motion on their mother's teats. Because they associate kneading with their mamas, Pawsome Talk said that veterinarians feel that kneading indicates they are happy because oftentimes they are also purring with their eyes closed while they are kneading.
7. Their Fur Is Mellow
If a cat gets all "puffed up" with their back arched and fur sticking up, you can tell the cat is anxious or concerned, according to The Humane Society. When the cat's fur flattens, they've returned to their inner smile.