In a recent discussion on the About.com Cats Forum, a member asked if her cat is happy. This is an interesting question, which first calls for a definition of "happy." Does it mean "never angry or upset," "never a little blue or even depressed," or "never sad over a loss of a friend or a friendship?" Where humans are concerned, those seem to be unrealistic expectations at best. I've run into very few Pollyannas in my lifetime, and to tell the truth, would be a little suspicious of some who seemed that cheerful all of the time. I suspect cats are the same as we in the regard of happiness.
Yesterday, my son told me an amusing story about our Jaspurr. He had put down two paper plates in the feeding area, as usual. Then he emptied a small can of food into one place, then absently-minded went back to a computer project. A short while later he had that strange feeling we sometimes have that we're being watched; looked up and saw Joey chomping away at his breakfast, and next to him, Jaspurr, sitting there in front of his empty plate, positively glaring back at him. Chastened, Lance hurried to open Jaspurr's can, and Jaspurr happily hunkered down to chow. This little story demonstrates that there is a definite cause= effect involvement in temporary unhappiness, which was easily reversed by the administration of food.
A more serious problem arises when a cat is depressed over ongoing inter-cat conflicts. A popular forum member, Pat (PhillysMom), was faced with that problem recently. Last year, Pat had rescued a mother cat and her kittens from a barn on her property (detailed with photos in Project Jersey Kitties. Ultimately, Pat adopted Tiger Lily (the mother cat) and Piper, a gray tabby female kitten. Although they both originally melded into the household fairly well, recently Tiger Lily and Molly, found themselves at odds. Pat could see that Tiger Lily was becoming increasingly depressed, exacerbated by a medical problem. The other cats were upset too, and continuing to keep Tiger Lily seemed to be an insurmountable problem. Pat made the difficult decision to find TL a new single-cat home. Thanks to E (of the Vowels), Tiger Lily is now happily adopted to a nice couple who intend to keep her as a single cat.
Photo Credit: © Pat Hollenack
I wonder how many of my readers have been faced with similar problems, or have resolved similar problems. How did you go about solving the problems? Is your cat overall a happy cat?