March 5, 2021

9 Warning Signs of an Unhappy Cat


by Laureetta Williams


If you know anything about cats, then you know that they exhibit some character traits similar to humans. Cats are capable of feeling all kinds of emotions, including feeling happy, sad, neglected, and so on. However, if you are a new cat owner, you may find it slightly challenging to quickly identify when your cat is happy and when they are not. But the good news is, we are here to help you understand the difference in cat behaviors!


Of course, the behavior of your cat will be completely different from that of other cats. However, it will not be so significant that you cannot quickly understand the display of emotions. It’s also true that most cats, if not all, are creatures of habit, which makes it all the more easier to know when they are not their usual self. Again, by the end of this article, you should be well-informed on the possible behavioral changes in cats; that way, you can get them the required help, especially in critical conditions.


Apart from the mood swings caused by internal factors in your cat, physical ailments can also cause your cat to act strangely. If you think something is wrong with your furry friend, it’s advised therefore that you take him or her to see the vet, just to make sure they are not hurting physically, before going ahead to find the cause of their unhappiness.’


If you think that your cat is not in the right frame of mind and possibly ‘unhappy,’ then we have put together some tips to help you make the right prognosis on your cat’s behavior. 


1. Hiding

Now and then, you will find your cat tucked away in a comfortable corner, sleeping, or just resting. However, if this happens more and more often, then maybe you should look into further. Cats like to hide, as it’s part of their mystery. They don’t exactly wear their feelings on their sleeves, which only tends to increase when they are sick or unhappy. Some times this hiding leads to 


They tend to become more fearful, and recluse to hide that vulnerable feeling from you or simply to protect themselves. If your cat is hiding more often than usual and you cannot figure out why then you should visit the nearest vet to get professional help. Some times this hiding may lead to running away. There are a few good options to help if you find your cat keeps going missing. This lost cat website is a good place to start if you are already missing your feline. We also recommend investing in a cat tracker, (you can find some handy reviews on Feline Culture); cat trackers will not only help you locate your Houdini kitty, they also provide a solution for pet health and happiness, enabling you to monitor your cat’s activity levels and check they’re eating, exercising and sleeping enough. 


2. Change in Sleeping Pattern

As already mentioned, cats are creatures of habit. On average, cats can get up to 16 hours of sleep daily. Which is why, if you notice that they are sleeping a lot more or less, then something may not be right with them. This could either be as a result of a sad feeling or sometimes caused by an ailment. 


Other factors that may contribute to the change in your cat’s sleeping habit could be relocating them to a new sleeping spot. If you decide to switch up their diet this could also have an impact, which you can read more about here. Just be on the lookout for any recent changes they’ve undergone, as this may be the reason for their unhappiness; hence affecting their sleep pattern.


3. Change in Verbal Pattern

Cats are very verbal creatures. That’s how they communicate with humans. So, it’s perfectly fine to have a cat that meows a lot and make other sounds to be noticed. However, if your cat’s vocal pattern changes, even slightly, then you should not ignore it. For instance, if your very quiet cat becomes unusually loud or vice versa, then something is wrong and needs to be checked out, either by you or a vet. 


4. Body language

Another thing to look out for in your cat is body language. Just as with humans, cats tend to say a lot more through their body language. Obviously, cats’ body language may not be as noticeable; however, there are still several ways they communicate sad or unhappy emotions. Some of the ways are: fur standing on end, lack of appetite, ears are back, retreated behavior, and tucked tail as opposed to raised high. Apart from these body languages, the cat might have a sadness in her eyes that can immediately be associated with their state of mind.


5. Change in Eating Habits

For proper care of any animal, food is vital. The same applies to humans, as well as with your cat. If your cat is unhappy, it will inevitably affect their appetite for food, including their favorite food. Sometimes, they may even increase their level of food intake. Nevertheless, all of these indicate that you have an unhappy cat losing weight or gaining so many pounds. A healthy cat is a happy cat, and that will make you a happy owner.


6. Aggressive Behavior

Even though cats may get aggressively defensive when they are faced with an attack, you should also be aware that it is an underlying symptom of an unhappy cat. If you leave your cat to aggression, it may become unhealthy in the long run, not just for the cat but also for you. Unhappy cats are more prone to seeing everything as an attack, so check with your local vet to make sure everything is okay. 


7. Over- or under-grooming

It’s a healthy practice for cats to groom as often as possible. Also, cats are very neat and will do all they can to look desirable. So, when you notice that your cat is looking weirdly unkempt and not paying attention to the way they look, then there is a problem. It could be as a result of feeling blue or other factors affecting their mood. They can groom a little too much or completely stop grooming altogether. Either option is not healthy for the cat, which is why seeing a vet should be your next point of action.


8. Cat Spray or Urine Mark

First things first, cats are bound to spray of urine mark. Most times, it’s merely because they are marking their territories, which is pretty standard for animals living in social groups. However, another reason for your cat spraying at the slightest chance could be due to a sad or unhappy feeling. 

Some may see cat spraying as a rebellious act, but that’s usually not the case at all, as the ASPCA have discussed in length. Believe it or not, but cats like to be surrounded by their own scent, hence the urine spray. Self-cleaning kitty litters will come in handy if this is the case with your cat, as will vinegar – it’s an acid that neutralizes the alkaline salts that form in dried urine stains.


9. Disinterest in normal activities

The last but not least way to identify an unhappy cat is by simply noting if your cat is interested or disinterested in their normal activities. Just like with babies, if your cat becomes less responsive or involved in their toys, or running around the house, and doing other usual activities, then it could mean that they are sad or unhappy. Cats are pretty emotional, so when something is off with them, it’s easy to spot. Their energy levels will reduce, and they will just lay around doing nothing, which can often be mistaken for being lazy. In other cases, they will reduce their interaction with the owner significantly.


While cats can be quite mysterious, it is easy to figure them out with the right information. You just have to be more attentive to their change in behavioral and do something about it before it escalates. When in doubt, just take a trip to your local vet and get everything sorted out.


Laureetta Williams is one of the co-founders of and is a self-confessed pet lover.

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