What Do Cats Like? – How To Keep Your Cat Happy

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  • What do cats like? Playing, scratches, catnip and much more. A look at the top things you can do for your cat to make him happy and content.


    Young cat playing with toys
    Playful kitten laying on a floor playing with a mouse toy

    Playing isn’t just for kittens; most cats love to play well into adulthood; it enables your cat to tune into his hunting instinct, get some exercise and have a little fun. Different cats have different playing preferences. Some love to chase a laser, others enjoy the wand-type toys, others enjoy a game of fetch. Try a range of toys and games and see what your cat likes best.

    Bags and boxes

    Why do cats like boxes?

    This could have gone in the same category as playing, but I felt it needed its separate section. Cats seem to have an absolute love of jumping in and playing in paper bags and cardboard boxes. It’s such an entertaining (and cheap) way for your cat to spend an afternoon. So, next time you go shopping, don’t throw out that paper bag, put it on the floor and watch your cat have a little fun.

    Love and attention

    Cats like love and attention

    Most cats enjoy human attention and companionship. Some are more independent than others, but most will not turn down a conversation or a stroke and scratch if they’re given the opportunity. Not only is this good for your cat, but it is shown to lower blood pressure in humans too.

    So make sure you find some time every day to have a chat and a stroke with your cat. He will love you all the more for it.

    Being scratched

    Cats like being scratched
    I have found that almost all cats enjoy not only gentle strokes but scratches too. Most of us know that cats love to be scratched under the chin, which is guaranteed to get a positive reaction. I have also discovered that cats love to be scratched on the spine, just in front of the base of the tail. All the cats I have ever shared my home with have enjoyed both chin and back scratches. Other cats (but not all) enjoy having their belly rubbed and scratched.



    Catnip is a herb belonging to the mint family. Up to 50% of cats enjoy the high that catnip induces in them. It is perfectly safe for your cat to enjoy this “legal high”. It is easy to grow either in a pot or a garden bed, or if you are a brown thumb, you can buy dried catnip from most pet shops.

    Catnip is also contained within several cat toys such as mice etc. So they can enjoy a game of cat and mouse and a little bit of a high at the same time.


    Cat claw
    A cat’s paw with long and sharp claws on a book cover.

    Also known as stropping, cats like scratching. It helps them to stretch out their muscles and removes the outer layers of the claw. If not provided with an adequate scratching post, your cat may find alternative sources such as the sofa or stairs (that was a favoured location of my childhood cat).

    When selecting a scratching post, make a note of how your cat scratches as they have different preferences. Say he’s scratching the sofa, is he scratching vertically (i.e. the front of the sofa) or horizontally (i.e. the arm of the sofa)? Finding out which way your cat likes to scratch is a good idea so that you can choose the perfect scratching post for him.


    Why do cats eat grass?

    A lot of cats love to chew on grass. The reason still isn’t entirely understood, but it is believed that they either are trying to get certain vitamins or minerals in the grass or that the roughness of it acts as a mild irritant to the stomach, helping them to pass a hairball.

    Unfortunately, cats don’t always know the difference between non-toxic and toxic plants, so it is up to us to ensure that all toxic plants stay out of the house. If your cat is indoors and has access to a cat enclosure, why not plant some catnip AND some grass for your cat to nibble on. He will thank you for it.

    The two main species of cat grass referred to are Dactylitis Glomerata (also known as Orchard Grass or Cock’s Foot) and Avena sativa (common oat, cat oat).


    Cat enjoying the sunshine

    I find it quite amazing that on a hot sunny day my cat likes nothing more than lying on the floor in front of the huge glass doors in full sun. Cats love to laze in the sun.

    High up places

    Cat high up in a cat tree

    Cats love to be up high, some breeds more than others. Our cat Levi loves to sit on top of the kitchen cupboards. I don’t even know how he gets up there. If you have a cat with a love of heights, there are several great cat trees on the market to meet kitty’s needs. One Facebooker, Sara describes her cats love of heights.

    They’re never happier than when they’re up so high that you can’t reach them without a struggle. They squat there, smugly squinting at you, groom their paws, turn their back to you, flick their tail in your direction….they love being superior.


    Bonded cats

    Most cats love companionship too, especially if you are away from home for hours at a time. So if you work long hours, consider getting two cats. Some cats (not all) can and do get lonely and bored on their own.

    Most cats and dogs also get along together if they are introduced from an early age. Our cat loves to snuggle with our Labrador, but he didn’t get along with other cats.


    Keep treats to a minimum, cat food is for cats, and that should make up 99% of your cat’s diet. However, the occasional treat won’t do your cat any harm. This is one way to encourage a sick kitty to eat. So, what foods do cats like?

    Cheese, yoghurt, tuna, steak, scrambled eggs. A recent question on our Facebook page on what strange foods your cat likes included broccoli and cucumber.

    Watching the wildlife

    Cat watching birds

    Well, I’m sure most of them would like to be outside hunting the wildlife too, but that’s not good for the animals in question or for your cat. A great number of cats are inside cats now but they do seem to enjoy still sitting by the window watching the birds flying around the garden. Our cat has just been watching a magpie swoop down and has been chattering away at it.


    Cat sleeping

    Cats sleep between 12-18 hours a day, what’s not to like about that?


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio