Feline Wellness

Happy Cat Body Language: How Cats Express Gratitude

November 16, 2023

We have so much to be thankful for this holiday season and hope our cats are just as content as we are. While cats express their gratitude differently than humans, if you understand what to look for, you can tell if a cat is in a good mood just by looking at them!

Here are some quick and easy ways to tell if a cat is happy based on their body language. 


Their eyes are “soft.” They may be half-closed and are likely more almond-shaped rather than fully round since the cat is relaxed rather than on high alert. They may appear to be falling asleep, but they are likely just very calm and at peace.

Another sign of a truly blissed out cat is the slow blink or the “kitty kiss”. This is when a cat looks at you for a second or two then very purposefully and slowly blinks their eyes at you. This is an indication of trust and love. You then slowly blink at them, which tells the cat that you love them too.


Ears that are straight up and facing forward are a good sign that a cat is content. Unhappy cats often hold their ears off to the side and flatten them, a position known as “airplane ears.” Happy cats hold their ears up high, alert to sounds but not overly concerned or threatened by them. They’re just taking it all in. 


The whiskers will be positioned out to the sides, perpendicular to the face, rather than back against their cheeks. Cats navigate the world with their whiskers so having them out confidently instead of tucked in toward the body is a sign they are feeling safe and self-assured.


While they likely do NOT want you to rub their belly, showing off their stomach is a sign of a happy cat since it is a particularly vulnerable area of the body. When a cat performs the “social roll,” flopping over onto their back and stretching out, they are letting you know that they trust you. 


The tail is usually a dead giveaway of a cat’s mood. Both its position and its movement can illustrate a cat’s emotions. The “question mark” pose is a great indicator of a happy cat. This is when the tail is straight up in the air but the tip is hooked over like a candy cane. The tail may even vibrate when the cat is extra joyful. A cat with their tail in the “question mark” position is confident and curious and may appear to be strutting down the catwalk like a model. Me-OW!


A happy cat looks relaxed. They may stretch out, roll over, strut, and show off. Unhappy cats often curl up and try to make themselves smaller, tucking their tails and limbs into their body and possibly hiding their faces. Happy cats, on the other hand, have no problem taking up space. They know their worth. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We appreciate you.

Love, Nala