LOL Cats. The Surprising Ways Cats Show Happiness


Cats have a unique way of expressing joy and amusement. While they may not smile or laugh in the same way humans do, cats have their own set of behaviors to convey happiness, amusement, and excitement. According to Whiskas, cats demonstrate happiness through actions such as purring, kneading, playful behavior, chattering, relaxed body language, and making certain vocalizations.


Purring is a common cat behavior that doesn’t always signify laughter. According to an article by Insider Guides, purring can signal a cat feels content when being petted or touched (

Cats often purr as a way to communicate they are pleased and want more affection. Purring may also occur when a cat is nursing kittens or grooming another cat. The sound results from rapid twitching of vocal folds during breathing.

While purring can indicate happiness, cats may also purr when injured, sick, or frightened. The vibration from purring may provide physical comfort. So purring does not equate to laughter, though a content, relaxed cat may purr and exhibit playful behaviors.


Cats can display a unique ‘chattering’ behavior when they’re very excited or amused about something. This involves the cat’s jaw moving up and down rapidly, making a chatter-like sound with their teeth.

Chattering most often happens when a cat sees prey outside a window that they can’t get to. The inner hunter is so eager and stimulated that they start chattering. But this response can also occur with positive excitement, like seeing their owner arrive home.

A chattering cat may have wide eyes and be intently focused on whatever is causing their excitement. Their mouth will open and clamp down repeatedly. While chattering may sometimes indicate frustration that they can’t get to prey, it can also suggest happiness andlaughter when done in a relaxed, playful context.

Relaxed Body Language

When cats feel relaxed and happy, their body might take on a ‘laughing’ appearance. A relaxed posture is often a sign of pleasure for cats, which can be demonstrated by an upright tail and ears held back. When a cat is pleased, comfortable, or wants to play, they will exhibit a content expression with relaxed facial muscles, half-closed eyes, ears faced to the sides or backwards, a slight smile or open mouth, and a straight or upright-hooking tail.[1] Cats may hold this posture while being petted or when lying on their back and exposing their belly, which shows they feel secure and content. The relaxed and ‘smiling’ posture is also an invitation to play.

Playful Behavior

Cats showcase a variety of playful behaviors when they are happy and amused. Common playful behaviors include pouncing, chasing, leaping, stalking, and ambushing. Playfulness in cats often manifests as mock hunting and fighting behaviors. A playful cat’s body language will appear energetic, excited, and attentive. According to PetMD, playful cats will have dilated pupils, perked up ears facing forwards, and an upright tail with a hooked tip.1

Cats enjoy play because it allows them to practice important survival skills like hunting, as well as burn energy and relieve stress. Kittens especially need lots of playtime and interaction to develop properly. Play is an essential part of a cat’s routine and prevents boredom and behavioral issues. Owners should engage in active play sessions with toys that allow the cat to hone its pouncing and chasing skills. When cats play together, they will gentle wrestle, scuffle, chase, and paw at each other. Playing with other cats provides important socialization. Overall, playfulness signals a cat is in a positive, content mood.


Cats have a wide vocabulary of vocalizations that express different meanings (Source: moderncat). While meowing is often used to communicate with humans, chirping, trilling, and purring can signal “laughter” of sorts when a cat is happy, comfortable, and playing (Source: humanesociety).

Some cats make unique chirping sounds during play that signal enjoyment. These chirps and trills are different from their regular meow and indicate the cat is stimulated and excited by the activity, similar to laughter in humans. A cat may chirp repeatedly when playing with toys, chasing objects, or interacting with their human companions in a playful way. The chirping vocalizations seem involuntary and stem from feelings of happiness.

Facial Expressions

Researchers have found that cats make various facial expressions to convey different emotions and meanings. According to a 2022 study published in Animal Welfare, cats can make at least 276 different facial expressions. Their facial muscles allow them to move their ears, whiskers, eyebrows, and mouth in ways that express their mood.

Certain exaggerated facial movements like wide eyes and an open mouth can signify feline laughter. Opening the mouth wide exposes a cat’s teeth, which could seem like a threatening display. But in a relaxed playful context, with an otherwise happy facial expression, a wide open mouth likely indicates enjoyment, excitement, and laughter. The wide eyes complements this look of delight.

Stimulating Environments

Cats are natural hunters that thrive when given opportunities to express their natural behaviors. Providing a stimulating environment full of enrichment helps satisfy a cat’s needs for mental and physical activity. An enriched environment can make a cat happier and more likely to exhibit playful behaviors associated with laughter in humans.

There are many ways to enrich a cat’s environment such as providing scratching posts, cat trees, food puzzles, interactive toys, and opportunities for exploration (ASPCA). Rotating toys to keep things interesting and allowing outdoor access provides mental stimulation. Indoor cats especially need a changing habitat to prevent boredom.

Physical exercise is also important. Cats should have space to run and climb. Providing elevated perches and multi-level cat trees allows opportunities for jumping and climbing. Hiding treats or food around the home encourages exploration and foraging. Puzzles and food balls provide mental challenge. Interactive play sessions engage a cat’s natural hunting behaviors (Preventive Vet).

By engaging a cat mentally and physically each day through enrichment, their natural behaviors are satisfied. This leads to less stress, more confidence and happier, playful cats who are more likely to purr, play, and exhibit other behaviors associated with laughter and joy.

Individual Differences

Some cats are naturally more vocal and expressive than others when they find something amusing. According to Four Paws International, cats have distinct personality traits like neuroticism, extraversion, dominance, impulsivity, and tolerance. More extroverted and impulsive cats tend to be more vocal when expressing happiness compared to introverted and reserved cats. Additionally, specific cat breeds are known to have more outgoing, vocal personalities. For example, Feliway notes that Siamese and Bengal cats tend to be quite vocal and expressive. Ultimately, a cat’s inherent personality plays a major role in how vocal and demonstrative they are when amused.


While cats don’t laugh exactly like humans, they have a variety of behaviors that signal happiness, amusement, and laughter in their own way. A cat’s version of laughter includes purring, chattering, relaxed body language, playful behavior, vocalizations, and facial expressions that suggest contentment, joy, and amusement. Certain enriching environments can also stimulate a cat to display laugh-like reactions. There are some individual differences between cats as well in terms of how inclined they are to exhibit laughing behaviors. But overall, cats have their own special way of expressing happiness and laughter that cat parents can learn to recognize.

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