You consider yourself pretty fluent in “cat” and therefore able to understand most of what your feline is telling you — topics like neck rubs and catnip have been discussed ad nauseam.
But how is your cat really feeling? Is he or she happy and content, or anxious and uncomfortable? As National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day (August 22) approaches, Us Weekly asked the experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners to share five signs that your cat is living his or her best life. (And, for the record, it’s good that you and your furry BFF are having those talks.)
Knowing your cat is the first step to tapping into how they’re feeling, according to Dr. Sonja Olson, a senior clinician in emergency medicine for BluePearl.
“Really knowing your own cat and what makes them happy and comfortable [is important],” she explains. “It will be different for each cat because each cat is unique. If you notice a change, it’s time to contact your family veterinarian.”
Read on for more more telltale signs of kitty contentedness.
1. Your cat is playful.
Sure, cats can be lazy. Sometimes they don’t even look happy to see you. But those times when they buzz around the house like a kitty comet, that’s a check on the positive side of things. “If they’re chasing a feather or a ball or even a beam of light, that’s a good sign that they are happy and mentally engaged,” Olson says. “They may not want to play all the time, but they should at least be interested in playing.”
2. Your cat is social.
All cats are different — some want to be by your side at all times, others play it more cool — but all of them should seek a certain amount of human interaction. “Some cats hop on your lap at any opportunity and some will do no more than rub against your leg once a day — they do have different personalities,” Olson explains. “The point is, know how much social interaction your cat likes, whether it’s a lot or a little. Take note of any major changes. Your cat should want some social interaction, even if it’s minimal.”
3. Your cat is grooming.
If kitty is noticeably letting personal hygiene slide, it could be a clue about how they are feeling. “Cats are contortionists and able to groom themselves all over,” she says. “So if they’re not grooming, it could indicate they’re suffering from pain, nausea or other health problems. When cats look like their coat is unkempt, they’re not taking care of themselves.”
4. Your cat is eating.
When noms are a frequent topic of conversation, that’s a hint about your cat’s good health. “They should show a good appetite overall, relative to being a cat,” says Olson. “Some cats may be fussy about their foods, but their appetite should be normal and they should appear interested in their food and treats.”
5. Your cat is using their litter box normally.
Kitties can think outside the box all they want — you know they systematically contemplate ways to torment their ultimate foe, dogs — just as long as they do their business inside of it.
“If they’re having accidents outside of the litter box, it could indicate medical problems such as a urinary tract infection,” Olson explains. “They might feel pain when using the litter box or even be afraid of it — such as, if a puppy happens to be in the same room.”
Cats can be confusing creatures, so take the time to observe them and consult with a professional if you are worried. Adds Olson: “If you are noting changes in your cat’s behavior that are concerning you — such as not eating, eliminating outside of the litter box regularly, sleeping and/or hiding more than would be usual — these would all be very good reasons for an examination with your favorite feline veterinarian.”
Us Weekly articles and content are for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in Us Weekly articles and/or content is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, veterinary or professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you believe your pet may have a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.
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