How to Make a Cat Happy

Key takeaways

Pet cats can be difficult to read. Sometimes, they may seem withdrawn or unhappy, and we can find it tricky to cheer them up.

To help you look out for your pet's wellbeing, we've put together this comprehensive guide to make your cat happy.

We explore how to make a happy home and environment for your kitty, how to keep them healthy, and signs to look out for that may indicate they aren't too happy!

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. How to make a happy home for your cat
  3. How to keep your cat healthy
  4. Signs your cat isn't happy
  5. FAQs
  6. Final thoughts

How to make a happy home for your cat

Your home is also your cat's home. It's easy to forget this sometimes, but it's essential we treat our cat's environment with respect. We can do this by making sure they are comfortable, secure, and entertained.

Cat trees

Cat trees and scratching posts are important ways for your cat to mark their territory. To feel safe and secure, they need to feel like their home is truly theirs.
Cats have scent glands in their paws, which is why, outside, they scratch trees and fences to tell other cats that it's their territory. This is why you may find your kitty scratching furniture inside the house.
To prevent this from happening, provide your kitty with cat trees. They will be able to mark their territory and climb to a high place to survey it, an instinct left over by their wild family members. This will help your cat adapt to a new environment.
A cat climbing a tree

Cat toys

To keep an indoor cat happy, cat toys are essential. Kitties are intelligent creatures and need to be mentally stimulated in order to be happy. Many indoor cats may experience boredom in their environment if there isn't enough to interact with, play with, and explore.
Be sure to keep many different cat toys around the home. Use the following checklist:

Puzzle feeders: In the wild, cats need to hunt and work for their food. Cats, in particular, have a high prey drive and enjoy hunting. Puzzle feeders can replicate this by making cats figure out how to get their treats. They can keep them entertained for hours without the need to interact with them, perfect for when you want to get some work done!

Hunting toys: Another way to satisfy this prey drive is to use toys that replicate the process. For example, a wind-up mouse, a laser pointer, or a feather toy all make for great toys that can encourage your cat to run, jump, and chase, helping them get the physical stimulation they need as well as the mental.

Tunnels: Cat tunnels add some interest to your kitty's environment and help them create their own games. As cat owners, we've all seen our cats experiencing the zoomies. Cat tunnels can transform a boring living room into an exciting new land to explore.

Climbing blocks: As we previously mentioned, cats enjoy getting high (and we're not talking about cat grass or cat nip). Cats like to climb tall buildings, trees, and fences to watch out for potential predators and keep their owners or kittens in their territory safe.

A cat playing in the grass

Litter box

Not all cats will use a litter box. This is because many cats prefer going outside as it's often more hygienic. Even if this is the case, it's important you provide them with a litter box indoors in case of emergencies.
Ensure you keep the litter box clean at all times. A dirty litter box can cause unnecessary stress and will make cats feel uncomfortable in their environment.
If you aren't at home during the day or you're prone to forgetting, an automatic cleaner may be a good option for you. This means the litter box can be self-cleaning, making you and your cat's lives happier!

Peace and quiet

We know how sensitive our cats can be to strange noises, new people, and new animals. It's important that we respect this sensitivity. If we don't, we risk our cats:

Running away: When cats feel unsafe, their fight-or-flight instinct can be triggered. This means they will instinctually run away from home to find a safer environment.

Becoming anxious or depressed: A constant feeling of worry can affect your cat's overall wellbeing. They can experience anxiety and depression, which can affect their eating and drinking habits.

Hiding: A scared cat will instinctively hide. We've probably seen this when our cats get overwhelmed by visitors. However, if this behavior becomes constant, it's a clear indication they don't feel safe in their home.

Developing health problems caused by stress: Stress can directly impact your cat's physical health. Problems like urine infections can develop and become recurring if your cat is experiencing ongoing stress.

Expert Insight: To prevent this, respect your cat's boundaries. Any changes, like new people or pets, should be introduced gradually. Avoid hosting parties or having lots of visitors over if your cat is shy.
Cat sleeping on a window in a calm hat

How to keep your cat healthy

Once you have a safe and happy home set up for your cat, you need to implement a good routine to keep them healthy. If their physical health isn't taken care of, then they will struggle to feel happy.

Healthy diet

Despite many cat food brands promising all the nutrients your kitty needs, many don't fulfill these promises. After all, like humans, cats need a specific set of nutrients depending on the individual. The following factors should be considered when planning your cat's diet:

Age: As cats age, their needs change. Older cats will need plenty of high-quality protein to maintain their muscle mass. Meanwhile, kittens need lots of calcium to support the growth of their bones.

Breed: Certain breeds will need certain nutrients. Purebred cats will differ in their needs from regular moggies. This can be because of their different coat types, body mass, and size.

Health issues: If your kitty already has health problems or is taking medication, you should chat with your vet about the best nutrients to help combat these issues.

A good place to start is with a conversation with your vet. They can advise you on what your specific cat needs and how to get those nutrients. Most cats will get what they need from regular cat food, but it's important to read the ingredients and check the quality of them.
Top Tip: Remember always to provide a mix of wet food and dry food. This will help keep your cat's teeth healthy and prevent the build-up of plaque.
A cat standing next to bowls of food


Cats are independent creatures who like their own adventures and quality time. However, this doesn't mean they don't enjoy building relationships and spending time with other animals and people. In fact, even the most stand-offish of kitties enjoy some attention, even if it's not physical affection.
Without this, they can feel neglected and find it difficult to build a bond with you. Without trust, their fight or flight instinct may kick in, causing behavior like hiding or running away.
Below are some important ways to show your cat attention:

Playtime: Setting time aside to play with your cat is essential. While your cat can make their own fun and entertain themselves, it's a lot easier when someone is playing with them. Try using new toys, making new games, and generally being silly with them. This attention will be very stimulating for them, and they will not only have satisfied their hunting instincts but also their need for love.

Cuddles: Physical affection is a form of affection your cat will be able to understand. You'll see most cats head nudging each other, curling up for a nap together, and generally enjoying the closeness of another cat. Remember to respect your furry friend's boundaries and give them the attention they enjoy. This may mean a few strokes a day, or it may mean hours of cuddling and napping together.

Day-to-day contact: Our cats also thrive from us just being there. Interacting with them day-to-day is as important as dedicated play or cuddle time. If they are left alone for too long, they may experience anxiety and depression, as well as their fight or flight instinct kicking in. Don't leave them for hours every day if they don't have another cat or animal to interact with or access to the outdoors.

Cats are independent creatures who like their own adventures and quality time. However, this doesn't mean they don't enjoy building relationships and spending time with other animals and people.

A cat owner on their phone next to their cat


If you let your cat outdoors, then you most likely won't need to monitor your kitty's exercise level. Surveying their territory, hunting, and playing will mean that they are naturally running, jumping, and walking. Even just an hour of outdoor activity a day will be enough for your cat to keep their muscles, bones, and heart healthy.
However, indoor cats may struggle to achieve the amount of exercise they need, especially if they have no secure outdoor space or live in a small house. This means owners need to be attentive to this need, which often goes forgotten. Try the following:

Install cat shelves: Vertical space is just as important as floor space. Sometimes, even more important. This is because cats enjoy climbing and surveying their territory from a high vantage point. This will help them feel secure in their home whilst satisfying their instinct for adventure. Playing along these shelves, running, and climbing will all help your cat lead a happy and healthy life.

Declutter: Our cats may feel frustrated if they don't have a clear route or space to run and play in. Furniture can act as places to climb and explore, but general clutter may put your kitty off exercising. Make sure you open up the bedroom doors to increase their environment as much as possible.

Toys to chase: Playtime is extra important for indoor cats. Without it, they may not get much exercise at all. Invest in toys your cat can chase, like wind-up mice and laser toys.

Secure cat run: If you keep a strictly indoor cat, it might be worth considering whether you can create a secure outdoor space for them. Cat runs can allow your cat to move from the inside to the outside easily without being subject to the risk of the outdoors.

A cat jumping by a window


We may think of cats as being a low maintenance pet compared to others. However, they still need regular grooming to keep happy and healthy. The amount of grooming you'll need to do depends on the breed. For example, long-haired cats will need more maintenance than short haired.
For a good grooming routine, make sure you're doing the following:

Brushing: Brushing your cat is important for maintaining your cat's coat. If you have a long-haired cat, then brushing them weekly, if not daily, will help them keep hygienic and avoid any painful matting. This is especially important if you have an elderly cat who may not be agile enough or have enough energy to clean themselves properly. For shorter-haired cats, you won't need to brush them often at all.

Cleaning teeth: This one may come as a surprise to many cat owners. The professional advice often given by a vet is that we should brush our cat's teeth daily. However, if you haven't been able to start this routine from a young age, you may struggle to keep your cat still for long enough to brush their teeth. Even once a week is better than nothing. This will help prevent plaque buildup and painful infections.

Claw clipping: When your cat's claws get too long, they risk injury. Whether it's scratching themselves, getting infections from ingrowing claws, or becoming stuck and pulling one out. When you notice your kitty's nails growing too long, it's important to clip them back to keep them comfortable. This doesn't hurt your cat in any way, but they may still protest it. If you find it too difficult, a vet can do it for you.

Flea treatment: Indoor cats won't need to worry too much about fleas, but if you have a cat that loves exploring the outdoors, you may notice how often they pick up fleas. If left untreated, this can develop into a more serious health problem. So, at the first signs of fleas, like scratching, eggs, or flea poo, make sure you treat them as soon as possible.

We may think of cats as being a low maintenance pet compared to others. However, they still need regular grooming to keep happy and healthy.

A cat being held by a vet

Signs your cat isn't happy

It's not always easy to tell if your cat is happy or sad. They are masters at masking illness, injury, or stress, which means it's especially important for owners to look out for signs early so they can get the help they need.


If your cat is hiding, they probably aren't too happy. While many cats may take themselves off to a secure and secret spot for a nap or some peace and quiet, if they are consistently hiding from you, then something is probably wrong.
Common causes of hiding behavior include:






Try to observe your cat when they are hiding and look for signs of injury, like:

Excessive licking

Limping or holding a paw out

Minimal movement

It's important to act quickly if you think your cat may be sick or injured. Take them to the vet as soon as possible to get them checked out.
A cat hiding

Acting withdrawn

Sometimes cats, like people, can be in an obvious bad mood. Cats can act withdrawn, shying away from contact, avoiding interacting with people, and generally acting lethargic.
This is usually a sign that they aren't happy with their environment or routine or an indication of a health problem. This behavior is easy to go unnoticed. Sometimes, because your kitty isn't showing very obvious signs of illness or distress, we may put off getting them the help they need.
However, it's important that any change in their mood is addressed quickly to make your cat happy again!

Change in eating behavior

Cats are creatures of habit and routine. They'll enjoy their dinner at a specific time every day and will often even enjoy a specific brand of food and may refuse others.
If this changes and your cat suddenly stops eating or starts overeating, this can indicate that they aren't happy. It may be a simple case of worms, or it may be their fight or flight instinct kicking in from ongoing stress and anxiety.
Top Tip: First, try to change up their food and address any potential causes of stress in their environment. If this doesn't help, take them to the vet. This can sometimes be a sign of painful teeth, which may need to be treated.
A cat next to their food bowl


How can I make my indoor cat happy?

You can make your indoor cat happy by giving them lots of attention and making sure they are mentally stimulated. Invest in a scratching post, a cat tree, and some good cat toys.

How do I know if my cat is happy?

You will know if your cat is happy if their body language is relaxed, they are eating regularly, and they are interacting with you and other people.

How do you cheer up a cat?

You can cheer up a cat by spending some quality time with them. Offer them cuddles, play with them, and make sure they have a safe and secure environment to relax in. A treat goes a long way, too!

How do I tell my cat I love him?

You can tell your cat you love him with your actions instead of your words. Physical affection like head nudges and strokes are a clear indicator to your kitty that you love them.

Can you tell if a cat is unhappy?

Yes, you can tell if a cat is unhappy. If they are hiding, acting withdrawn, or not eating, then this may be a sign their fight or flight instinct has kicked in, most likely caused by ongoing stress.

Does a cat trust you if it sleeps next to you?

Yes, a cat trusts you if it sleeps next to you. This is because they are at their most vulnerable when they are sleeping. So, if they choose to be around you when they do this, that means they feel safe and secure in their home.

Do cats get sad when you leave?

Yes, cats can get sad when you leave. If you only leave them alone for a couple of hours, they will be absolutely fine. However, if you regularly leave them for long periods of time, they may experience loneliness and stress.

Final thoughts

We hope this guide has helped you know how to make your cats love their home. As pet owners, it's essential we know exactly what our kitties need to be happy. This will ensure you prioritize their wellbeing, making you a responsible pet parent.
Head over to our blog page which has hundreds of expert articles designed to help every cat owner be the best they can be.

Written by

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Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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