If you and your cats could speak the same language, what would you ask them? What do you think they would ask you?
I spend a lot of time – probably more than is healthy – pondering the answer to this question.
If you’re a cat owner, you’ll know yourself that cats are funny little beasts, full of cute quirks and peculiar habits and with distinct personalities. Cats know their own minds and they know what they like: in Biggie’s case naps, prawns and being left well alone; and in Scooter’s walking over my laptop keyboard, that one mitten that still has the pompom left on it and, as I discovered this weekend, Whiskas Temptations.
Among the questions I’d most like to pose to my cats this week are:
- (to Biggie) Why are you happy to sleep at the top of the stairs until 5am every night, at which point you have to crawl into bed with us? I mean, I don’t mind, but is it alright if you avoid my stomach on the way over?
- (to Scooter) Why, if you like sitting next to me while I’m working so much, do you sit on the next couch cushion over, with your back to me, completely motionless for hours at a time?
- (to Scooter, again) Just what is with that mitten, and do I have to store it in the drawer with my headphones if I want you to leave well alone?
And then there’s the biggie (pun not intended): guys, are you happy?
The kits are six years old in a few weeks, and have been indoor cats their entire lives, from tiny kittenhood in a third-floor flat to adulthood across a two-story house. Neither of them has ever shown much desire to go outside. But I wonder sometimes, as I watch Scooter looking out of the window from her favourite spot on the back of the sofa, whether I’m missing some feline cue.
And that’s where Whiskas Kat Institute of Technology (KIT) comes in.
With over 80 years of experience making cat food, Whiskas knows a thing or two about cats. KIT is a platform for sharing that knowledge: a series of videos that seek to answer the most commonly-asked questions by us poor, perplexed cat owners about our furry pals’ nutrition, behaviour and care.
Just like humans, cats show how they are feeling through a combination of vocalisations, body language and behaviour. So a dramatic change in behaviour could be a sign that something is wrong – but there are plenty of signs to look if you’re seeking reassurance that your cat is content.
Some of the signs of a happy cat, according to KIT, are:
Speech: A chatty kitty is usually a happy kitty, and the pitch of his or her meow is also a good indication of how they are feeling. So when Scooter follows Stringer around the house while he’s trying to get some work done, letting out a constant stream of little high-pitched mews the whole way, she’s not trying to be annoying – she’s showing him that she’s happy.
Similarly, the little “prrrrpttt” noise Biggie makes when I pet him while he is sleeping means that he is happy. When he wakes up and slaps me with a paw, not so much.
Grooming: Happy cats keep themselves well-groomed, although over-grooming can be a sign of stress. A particularly adorable habit my cats have is grooming the other while he or she sleeps, and Scooter also likes to give me the odd lick when she curls up by me while I’m working. This, according to KIT, means she trusts me and is happy to see me, and not that she thinks I am dirty.
Posture: Happy cats sleep with their paws tucked under them, indicating that they are feeling relaxed and at home. You will often find them sleeping in piles of clean laundry, at least in my house. A joyful cat’s tail will stand straight up, with the tip crooked in greeting, while an agitated cat will straighten its legs and erect the hair along the spine.
Behaviour: Happy cats like to play with humans and other cats that they like or trust. Those late-night zoomies and kitty wrestling matches? All signs that your cat is happy, interested and alert.
KIT also says that a healthy appetite is a strong indicator of a happy cat, which means that I have nothing to worry about with my two. Cats are smart and quickly train us to give them treats – whether that’s Biggie’s increasingly intricate dance in front of the refrigerator when he suspects that there are prawns inside, or Scooter figuring out that if she pushes the Whiskas Temptations off the sofa, the lid might come off again.
So, all the signs point to two happy cats in my household – that also happen to be expert manipulators for toys and treats. And I wouldn’t have them any other way.
This post is a collaboration with Whiskas, but all thoughts are my own. Check out their website and their KIT hub for more information on cat happiness and their YouTube channel for fantastic KIT videos.