Understanding Your Cat’s Behaviour: How to keep a healthy and happy cat!

As a cat mother, it’s important that my kitties are happy and healthy. I regard their welling being to be just as important as my own health. And that includes mental health.

[AD] The scratching post mentioned in this post was gifted by Catipilla. Please read the disclaimer for more information in regards to sponsored and affiliate links.

As an avid cat mother, I know the importance of keeping your cat happy and healthy. I regard their well- being to be just as important as my own health, if not more so. And that includes their mental health. We don’t often think of our animals’ mental well-being, but when your cat companion is feeling unhappy or ill, it’s glaringly obvious. At least to long term cat owners.  But if you’re not familiar with our feline companions, you might not be able to spot the signs. And if your cats aren’t happy, then it’s natural that you might begin to experience some anxiety yourself. That, or your home might be open to some less than savory behaviours. 

In order to maintain a happy household, you need to keep an eye on your beloved pet. Animals do so much for our well-being and mental health, that it’s only right that we look after theirs. Therefore, it’s very important that we watch out for any signs of stress, sickness, or general discomfort.

Check out this post by Two Plus Dogs to learn more about animal wellness.

Willow and Samira; Our happy cats.

These are my two feline companions. Willow and Samira were both adopted from Mid-Antrim Animal Sanctuary. Although they both have very different personalities I love them equally. Even when they yowl at daybreak or fight for no apparent reasons.

As they’re both so different it’s important that I’m able to tell when either of them is in distress. Samira, for example, is very talkative, while Willow is the opposite. Being able to identify their individual way of working helps me remain vigilant for any apparent signs of stress or sickness.

** Please note that I am not an expert. The majority of this information comes from my local vet and Jackson Galaxy, the self-proclaimed cat daddy. Not all cats are the same so please be mindful when reading this.

Do you have a happy cat? Warning signs to watch out for.

There are multiple ways of spotting an unhappy cat. Unfortunately, I’m unable to cover everything so please be aware that this is not a definitive list. If you’re concerned about your cat there are many reputable websites you can visit for further information (please see the end of the post). But as fantastic as the internet can be for valuable information, my advice would be to seek veterinary opinion over that of the internet if at all possible.

Need advice on keeping your cat safe during fire work season? Check out this post.


Although spraying can be seen as an aggressive behaviour, it’s also used as a means of comfort for your cat. When it’s feeling distressed, your cat will spray to self-soothe because it surrounds them with their own scent. An unhappy cat can be stressed or afraid for a variety of reasons including separation anxiety or a new addition to the house (both human or animal).

When we first introduced Samira to Willow, the latter took to spraying for the first few nights. This was quickly remedied by providing more litter boxes and introducing them to each other slowly, rather than all at once. Now, while they still keep their distance, they are both happy cats when within their own, separate space.

Uncharacteristic vocalisation.

Some cats like to talk to their humans all the time. Other’s remain largely silent until feeding time when they howl with hunger. If your cat is vocalising more than usual it could be due to stress and anxiety. It’s also important to pay attention to the type of sound they’re making. Obviously our cats can’t speak to us directly, so they use different sounds to let us know what they want.

I know when my cats are hungry because of the sound they make. Equally, I know when they’re (Samira, mostly) wants attention because she’ll chirp and squeak. But the sound I hate to hear the most is the long, mournful yowl which indicates she’s unhappy. This usually occurs when she’s tangled in her lead or wants out to play.

If you notice a change in how your kitty is speaking to you, whether it be a different tone, less frequent or more frequent vocalisations, start looking for possible sources of stress or discomfort. It might also be a good idea to schedule a vet appointment if you’re unable to find any obvious reason as it could be medical.

Things heating up this summer? Check out this post for signs of overheating in your pets.

Change in eating habits.

Cat’s are empathic creatures and are easily able to pick up on their guardian’s moods. Therefore it’s no surprise that cats, like humans, can experience anxiety, stress, and even depression. And much like us, this can directly impact how your cat reacts around food. When a cat is feeling unhappy, unwell, stressed, etc it may refrain from eating. A cat who usually comes running at the sound of their treat box, might not show any interest at all. And although it’s less common, some cats may increase their food intake as a way of self-soothing. This is especially true if you practice free feeding, meaning that food is left readily available for the cat at all times.

Regardless of which side of the coin your cat is on, it’s important to keep an eye on their eating habits and even their weight. A change in eating habits can be a big indicator that something is off.

Over or under grooming.

Grooming is a normal part of a cat’s routine. It’s healthy to see your cat actively looking after their coat. But when your cat is feeling unwell or down in the dumps, you might notice one of two things. Cat’s either over-groom, causing hair loss, hairballs, and even sores. Or they might neglect their coat altogether, resulting in matting and a generally unkempt appearance.

Image from Tranmautritam

Change in body language.

Cat’s can tell us a lot from their body language. In fact, that’s how a cat naturally communicates with each other. Vocalisations are reserved for their guardians and human folk only, the body language is where the real communication happens. Keep an eye on how your cat holds themselves. Are their ears back? Fur on end? Tail low and possibly puffed up? It’s possible that your cat is feeling unwell, stressed, scared, or even threatened. If you notice your cat is acting out of sorts and exhibiting any signs of distress in their body language, take a look at their immediate environment. Even house cats can be put off by that one cat in the street who likes to pee on your front porch, so be sure to handle it accordingly using a citrus cleaner to ward off unwanted visitors.

Finally, if you’re unable to find any reason behind your cats change in body language it’s best to seek medical advice as it could be caused by an unseen illness.

*Although it’s normal to see a cat exhibit all these things when playing, a happy cat will unwind and relax after play is over.

How to keep your indoor cat happy.

Plenty of things to scratch.

My cats love to scratch. They love the sofa, the carpets, the wooden chest of drawers, and even their human’s clothing. Samira especially enjoys scratching cat rope and designated scratching posts. Willow, on the other hand, is picky about what she scratches. She only uses what she deems acceptable, and that’s not much by her standards.

Catipilla kindly sent us a beautiful wall-mounted scratching post for our girls to try out! We choose the 75cm pillar which we placed inside our cat’s custom made ‘cat closet.

But not every cat will use a new scratching post right away. To get our cats interested we used some catnip spray. It’s a sure fire way to make them go crazy for anything you give them and readily available on Amazon or in your local B & M store.

Play time!

There are some cats who require little to no active play. Our eldest cat barely moves from the moment she gets fed in the morning until the moment she needs fed in the evening. She’s happy watching the birds, sleeping on the sofa, or even just curling up on your lap. Samira on the other hand is a ball of energy.

Some cats, particularly younger cats, need to be played with for at least an hour each day. If not, their energy starts to come out in destructive ways. They may scratch your sofa, your walls, and even you. Boredom can drive a cat bananas, so it’s best to get yourself and your cat into a play routine. Try out a variety of toys until you find what they like, and be ready for their opinion to change at any given moment. Cats are smart creatures and can become easily bored with the same old toy and play methods, so try and keep it interesting.


This one speaks for itself. Be sure to show you cat affection in whatever way they allow you to. This could range from frequent cuddles to simply stroking their chins. All kitties are different, so experiment to find out what suits them best!

Regular checkups.

Finally, and arguably the most important way to keep a healthy and happy cat is to get regular checkups. It’s advised that cats visit their vet at least once a year for a general assessment. But if you’re concerned about your cat it’s best not to wait. Get yourself a local vet that you trust and, for goodness sake, get pet insurance! You never know what could happen.

How do you ensure the well-being of your feline companions? Do you have any additional tips and tricks to share?

Interesting in learning more about cat care? Check out these fantastic bloggers! They’ve helped me a great deal in my own journey with cat care and understanding my feline’s personalities and quirks.

  • Shed Happens: For all things pet related, cats included. Britt has an excellent library of resources for all pet owners.
  • Cat Care Solutions: A fantastic resource for all things cat!
  • Cats and Coffee: Living that cat mum life? Say no more!
  • Cat’s protection: I couldn’t let a post all about cat well-being to pass without mentioning the Cat’s Protection! They have a fantastic variety of information for all cat owners out there. Not only that but you can donate to help support cat shelters in the UK.


  1. My mother in laws new cat was always climbing on things she shouldn’t (the refrigerator, the curtains etc) so we gifted them a very tall cat scratching post and the cat loved it. Then we gave them one of our cat trees that our cats didn’t use as much anymore and her cat loved that as well! The kitty loves being up higher !

  2. Cat’s will always take a while. My older cat took a few days to get used to our home while the younger just took about 15 minutes. After that, she was walking around as if she owned the place. Probably because she’s so young and able to adapt more.

  3. Looks like someone’s cat is really happy. Loving this a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I just learned the cat language. That was great to know. I did not know this. Amazing post!!!

  5. What sweet babies you have! This is really good information. As pet parents, we all can worry about our pets when they don’t act like themselves, so it helps to be able to understand when it makes sense to take them into the vet and when they just need a little more attention.

  6. Cats are very in-tune to their body and surroundings and can tell you alot if you just “watch and Listen” I miss having cats. Adult allergies to them, never had allergies to cats when I was younger..

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I hope it’s helpful for you guys if you do get a cat! Be sure to check out the bloggers I mentioned – they all have great tips.

  8. Cats do bring so much joy to a home! I grew up in a home that was filled with lots of different pets. I loved buying new toys and scratch posts for my wonderful cats, they loved them! xxx

  9. I am pretty sure Willow and Samira are happy under you care. That scratching post is a great item to have for the cats to play with. And for sure I will get someone to do the drilling part. Haha

  10. I’m not a cat person but I’ve got a new pup and a ton of these tips still apply!!

  11. What pretty cats you have. It sounds like you take really good care of them. I recently adopted a dog, so I have a lot to learn about pet parenting.

  12. Great post on how to care for cats! I always had cats when I was growing up but my husband is allergic so we are not able to have one any more. It makes me sad. I sure do miss their antics.

  13. I have a friend who has a cat and dog as pets and as long as the cat is in charge the house runs smoothly. The moment that changes all heck breaks loose.

  14. My cat is happy when he is in charge. I know there is a problem if he is quiet or doesn’t want to be with me (he is my shadow).

  15. We have 5 cats so this Catipilla sounds perfect for us! We adopt our kitties from the local shelter and they can feel stressed when we first bring them home. Once they adjust to their new environment and trust us, they are happy and healthy.

  16. I wouldn’t have thought that over/undergrooming is a sign of stress – good to know. It’s great that you have multiple cats so they can keep each other company.

  17. I don’t have any pets at my house but I adore them. It is a good idea that you have shared Thank you so much for popping in and reading .

  18. My daughter really wants a cat and this will help us tremendously! I love that you included signs of an unhappy cat, as it might go undetected otherwise.

  19. The puking is the worst! My eldest is long-haired so we’ve had our fair share of her puking. The youngest eats so fast that she has also puked in the past. On the carpet!!!

  20. Thank you so much for popping in and reading. We couldn’t be without our scratching posts! Our furniture would be ruined!

  21. Thank you so much for popping in and reading. I love dogs too but I sadly don’t have the energy to keep up with one.

  22. That’s exactly like my two. One is very aloof and independent, but a big scared cat. The other is full of fun, gets up to some pretty weird stuff, and is just so cute.

  23. My partner was allergic to them. He came out in hives when we first got both of them, but anti-histamines cleared it up and then, somehow, he got used to it. But I gather he wasn’t really allergic and more getting used to them as he has sensitive skin. I’ve given them both extra big pets from you 🙂

  24. Thank you so much for allowing me to link back to you! You have an excellent blog, with wonderful resources so every little helps!

  25. I love dogs too and wish I had the time for one. But sadly I don’t have the time or energy so a cat is perfect for me. Thank you so much for popping in and reading 🙂

  26. Thank you, Jenny! I never had cats growing up, only small dogs. Mum and Dad found cats to be aloof and disobedient. And they aren’t wrong! But I always loved them so when I bought my own place I knew I had to adopt one (or two as it happens)!

  27. It’s a game-changer in regards to saving floor space if you’re short on it. That and I find that Sam gets an extra-long stretch by reaching up to it. And we all know how much cats love to stretch!

  28. Thank you! I 100% recommend this post both for comfort for the cat (they get an extra longgggg stretch when they reach up to scratch it), and also because it’s wall-mounted it’s perfect if you lack space!

  29. We don’t have cats but my brother and sis in law have 16! They will find this post helpful. I probably would be interested in one cat, but OMG, 16 cats is way too many!

  30. Aw, your cats is so adorable. I don’t have any pets maybe i can consider having one hehe, but tbh i dot like cats, maybe i am not committed yet to adopt one.

  31. I love this post so much! We lost our precious Molly cat a few years ago. She was definitely an affectionate, talker cat. I was blessed to have her for 20 years.

  32. Wow..it was very deep and loved the ideas.. Cats are mine fav pets..but i haven’t any of pet…Cats are really very cute and very loyal ones…having a cat at home is really very fun..????

  33. My cat is a very vocal little fellow, he hates closed doors for example and makes sure he howls loud enough to remind me that. As a cat momma, I can definitely tell when my boy is not feeling well or when his behavior changes.

  34. You certainly know a lot about cats. I am not a cat mom and my experience of cats all my life has been minimal. However, I do like the clever Catipilla invention, it is so cool.

  35. Adorable kitties! We have a 2 year old black female that’s full of sass and super adorable. Not too many issues luckily besides the occasional puking.

  36. awww! how sweet! I am not a cat person but I can not deny cat’s charm. your cats are so wonderful!

  37. I don’t have a cat anymore, but I know when I did, having a good cat tree and scratching post was super important! It is definitely important to look at body language too!

  38. These are some excellent tips for cat mommy’s and daddy’s. I am more of a dog person but I understand that any animal needs to be happy at their home.

  39. Very interesting read! I’m allergic to cats but if I wasn’t I’d have one as a pet! They’re gorgeous

  40. Aw, I love cats. I have two of them and they seem to be happy. Well, one is sassy, but I mean, she’s a cat. The other is more loving.

  41. What cute little cats you have. I love cats, but they don’t like me. I’m allergic to them. 🙁 Give your cats a pet for me.

  42. Thank you so much for the shout out!
    It’s true – if your cat isn’t happy, it can have an impact on everyone else in the home!! Having a scratch post like this is such a great way to keep your cat happy. My younger cat Jinx is OBSESSED with the scratch posts around our house! It’s hilarious to watch her sometimes lol
    Willow and Samira are precious!!!

  43. I’ll admit, I’m more of a dog person, but these are great tips to look out for. I’ll share this with my cat owner friends, they’ll appreciate it.

  44. I’ve never had a cat, my Dad doesn’t like them. In fact, I think he’s a little scared of them. This is all really useful information! Your cats are gorgeous xxx

  45. I love this post and I especially love the idea of a wall mounted scratching post too. It’s not something you see very often so I might have to invest in one for Tilly at some point! xx

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