CAN CATS SMILE?
Yes, cats can smile - however, evidence suggests that our feline friends may use their eyes to do it.
Psychologists from the United Kingdom suggest that our furry friends may actually use their eyes to form the ‘slow blink’ - AKA, the cat smile.
So, if your cat has ever narrowed its eyes when looking at you, there’s a good chance it's been giving you the cat equivalent of a human grin.
If you narrow your eyes and return the sentiment, it’s believed that they’ll know you’re smiling back at them, too.
However, some cats DO seem to look like they’re grinning - is this a smile?
Well, some breeds may just have the right mouth shape to look like they’re displaying a grin, even when they’re not.
The slow blink is a pretty powerful form of feline communication.
The study even discovered that when strangers performed the slow blink at a cat, it was more likely to approach the stranger and accept their hand.
So, if you want to build a bond with your feline friends, perfecting the art of the slow blink may be the way to go!
HOW TO TELL IF A CAT IS HAPPY
The cat smile (aka the slow blink) is just one way that our feline friends communicate with us. There are plenty of other indicators to suggest that your cat is feeling happy.
So, if you want a few more signs that your cat is in good spirits, look out for the following:
Pointy Ears (And Other Ear Signals)
If your cat's ears are pointing straight to the sky, it’s a good indicator that they’re feeling happy.
In fact, the positioning of a cat's ears can tell us a great deal about how they’re feeling.
Although point ears are a sign of happiness, if the ears are positioned straight up and slightly forward, they are normally on high alert and paying close attention to their surroundings.
It is also common to see if your cat is hunting or playing - they’ll want to absorb as much auditory information about the situation as possible!
If their ears are flat and positioned sideways, they’re likely feeling nervous or frightened. This is not a good time to smother your cat with attention, as their fear could lead to aggressive behavior.
Instead, give your cat some privacy, and respect their space.
If your cat's ears are low rather than flat and facing outwards, it indicates that they could feel unwell.
Cats are masters of disguise, especially when it comes to feeling unwell, but this could be a key indicator that something’s up.
Kneading is another sign that your cat may be feeling super happy and affectionate.
Kneading, affectionately known as ‘making biscuits,’ is often accompanied by purring and closed eyes.
The kneading motion stems from kittenhood when young kittens would nurse on their mothers.
Unless accompanied by signs of nervousness or agitation, this super cute motion gives you the all-clear to go in for a cuddle or some head scratches.
Purring is arguably the ultimate tell-tale sign that your cat is feeling happy and willing to snuggle up close with you.
Although purring is usually an indicator that your cat is happy, it can also mean other things.
For example, some cats purr when they are nervous or in pain. Some cats even purr as a way of smiling!
However, if your cat is purring and making attempts to gain your attention, they’re more than likely feeling affectionate and seeking out a bit of quality time with their favorite human.
One of the most notable ways that cats communicate with us is through meowing. Cats can meow for all sorts of reasons. However, cats can be chatty when they’re happy.
If your feline friend is following you around and making a point to meow at every available opportunity, they’re probably just seeking attention in the most obvious way they know how to.
If your cat is feeling nervous or agitated, you may see it become a little ‘puffed up.’
You’ll usually see this if you look at your cat's tail, which can quickly puff up and resemble something that looks more like a toilet brush than a tail.
However, if your cat's fur isn’t puffed and sits mellow and comfortably on their skin, they’re probably feeling neutral.
If this is accompanied by purring, a slow blink, kneading, or any other sign of affection, your cat is probably feeling calm and content. Feel free to give them a bit of fuss - they’ll probably appreciate it!
THE FLEHMEN RESPONSE
Some breeds have naturally smiley faces, but for others, what looks like a smiley face can actually be the Flehmen response.
Cats have a super strong sense of smell. Sometimes, specific odors (especially if they’re right in pheromones) can encourage the Flehmen response.
This happens when your cat moves the scent to the roof of its mouth to analyze it.
When this happens, your cat will usually squint their eyes, curl their lips, and even tilt their heads - although this may look like a happy behavior, it’s simply your cat analyzing its surroundings!
Although your cat isn’t likely to attack you if you try to give it attention in a Flehmen response state, it’s probably not going to reciprocate the affection if it’s busy checking out its surroundings.