Unlike dogs, cats may not be very obvious and vocal in communicating their feelings. But, live long enough with a cat, and you will come to observe unique and distinct body language gestures and behaviours that help understand how your cat may be feeling.
Here are some of the signs you will notice in a cat that is happy, confident and comfortable in its environment or in the presence of its owners or other cats or dogs it co-habits with.
Tail up signal
A commonly observed gesture, wherein the tail is upright with the tip slightly curled at times. This signal is believed to indicate an intent of friendliness and non-aggression.
A slow blink indicates being comfortable, relaxed and to acknowledge the presence of the owner or co-habitant animals like other cats or dogs in the house. This is in contrast to when a cat is completely at unease and rapid blinking would be one of the visible signs indicating distress.
Social roll or back roll
This is a greeting behaviour. This behaviour is often directed at people the cat shares a positive bond with or even at times towards other cats or dogs that the cat gets along very well with. You may have observed your cat walk into the room you are present in and perform a social roll. It is often an invitation to approach the cat, either to stroke it gently or initiate play. However, even though the belly is exposed during this behaviour, this is not an invitation for a belly rub. Majority cats do not appreciate the belly area being stroked.
This behaviour involves a cat rubbing its head area on another familiar cat, dog or person or even an object in its environment such as the leg of a table. The head area contains certain glands that give out an oily secretion. Head bunting is associated with social interactions and hence is always directed towards an individual or object that is well-accepted by the cat.
Body rubbing involves moving one side of the body along another individual’s body or against an object, creating physical contact. You may have observed your cat body rub against your leg whilst standing in close proximity to it. Body rubbing is a very affiliative gesture and a manner of saying “I am marking you as mine”.
These are the commonest behaviours associated with a cat that is happy & well pleased. In addition there are vocalisations like the purr and chirrup that are indicative of pleasure and contentedness.