Almost all cats like to be petted. It is a pleasant activity that helps us bond with our pets. But every feline has its own manual, and we must know in detail which parts of the body to massage in order to provide the most relaxing experience.
Cats like to be petted in the cheeks, forehead, between the eyes, under the chin, along the back from head to tail, and on the side. However, most of them don’t like to be petted in the tummy, legs, paws, and tail.
Before we pet every cat with all of our energy and love, we must first introduce ourselves. Cats get defensive fast, and it is not a good idea to surprise them with a lot of touching if they are not ready to receive it.
How To Pet Our Cats
It’s no secret that cats hate being squeezed, and children are experts at it. That’s why kids aren’t among cat’s favorite people in the world. Despite their good intentions, most cats avoid infants because of that reason. Therefore, if we squeeze a cat, we are also going to be avoided. Even though we have a tough-love “mini tiger” who shows signs of tolerance to being squeezed, it doesn’t like it. Strong petting is not a proper way to handle a cat. If you want to be tough, get a Pitbull.
Cats should be touched with caution. Soft patting and petting are perfect for them. Scratching and massaging are enjoyable movements for them. That’s why several cats love to be brushed and combed gently with silicon tips brushes. But, of course, we have to be moderate and apply the proper pressure when touching.
Most of the cats love being stroked by us owners almost the whole day. My female cat is a furry one and gets all flirtatious when I pet her the right way. She even asks for it when I have been ignoring her for a while. There are specific breeds of cats that tolerate much harder petting. Still, we should be careful because a cat’s fur and skin are more sensitive than we might assume.
Purring: If we hear our cat purring, it means we are hitting the right spot. But not every time a lack of purring means that we are not doing it well. Not all cats purr. So, that is not an absolute sign of pleasure.
Not all cats have the same personality. Some are more friendly than others. Suppose by any chance we adopt a grumpy one. In that case, we have to pay attention to the body language because, even though it might act reserved towards our petting, it probably won’t show us that it loves the way we are touching it. By offering the cat treats, we can encourage him to let us pet him. As such, it is not bribery because this is a way to reward a particular behavior to increase its likelihood of recurring in the future. It is basic psychology. That is how animals are trained, with rewards.
Body Language: It is essential to respect our pet’s space or desire to be petted. That is a consideration with every animal.
Cats are susceptible to touch and will let us know, via body language, if they’re up for a cuddle or stroking.
Signs like an effort to escape, turning away, hissing, or scratching are stop signs. But, on the other hand, a willing-to-get-petted cat will rub the sides of their face across our hand to encourage us to continue.
Knowing where our cat likes to be petted: The relationship with our cats evolves with time. We will learn, by observation, the spots in general that our cats prefer to be stroked on and which ones we should keep away from. Let’s keep in mind that every cat is different, and it may take some time and experimenting.
Know when to stop: Do we like to have an endless session of tickles? No? Well, cats feel the same way. It doesn’t matter if we have the most loving and affectionate of all cats in the world. It can get tired of it, so it’s important to pay attention to our pet’s body language while we’re petting. If our cat starts to change position, sit up or make any other movements that may indicate they’re done, we must respect that. If we do that, it will help reinforce petting as a positive thing.
Here are some signs that will help us identify if we are going in the right way with our petting session.
Signs of cat pleasure:
- Tail upright, willing to touch us and with movement from side to side
- Kneading and purring at us with their paws
- A relaxed facial expression and posture with the ears pointed forwards and pricked
- Giving us a soft nudge if we pause the petting
Signs of displeasure or tension:
- Moving or shifting their head away from us
- Remaining inactive
- Head or body shakes, nose licking, and exaggerated blinking
- Fast, grooming bursts
- Twitching or rippling skin along their back
- Thumping, thrashing, or swishing tail
- Ears rotating backward or flattening to the sides
- A sudden head turn to face our hand or us
- Biting, batting, or swiping your hand away with their paw
Where Do Cats Like To Be Petted?
There are different areas of the feline anatomy that are the best choice when petting a cat. Those are the ones that we should look for when giving them a nice, touchy moment.
The cheeks: Cats have scent glands on their cheeks and lips. These are great petting spots for most felines because gliding our fingers across our cat’s cheeks and lips releases these glands. We humans can’t smell the oily residue from these glands, but other cats can.
Forehead and between the eyes: Most cats will let us know that they are in a petting mood by bumping their heads against us. That behavior is called “bunting.” It is basically an invitation to pet their heads or between their eyes.
Under the chin: A light scratch under our cat’s chin can be so delightful that it can cause some drooling even.
Along the back from head to tail: Gliding our hands along the back will make our cats soften and stretch their bodies. They sometimes elevate their rear end when we get to the base of the tail. If we follow that by a grooming session with a brush or a comb, our cats will enjoy it very much.
Side: We can pet our cat if it’s lying on its side and it appears to be relaxed in our presence. We can try it only if the cat is in our lap or next to us.
Where Do Cats Hate To Be Petted?
The cat’s whole body may seem like the perfect zone to scratch and pet all day, every day, but felines disagree with us in that. Some zones are off-limits, and they are not shy in letting us know that. We have to consider that since we tend to think that cats and dogs like to be petted in the same parts.
Parts To Avoid
Belly or tummy: Most cats feel exposed when being with their bellies showing. They know that it is a vulnerable area, and that is why they hate to be touched there.
Legs and paws: A cat’s legs and paws are other tricky spots that may make them feel trapped or vulnerable. They are a very sensitive part of any feline’s body.
Tail: Most cats don’t like to be touched in their tails. The way they move is a good measure to know when to stop petting that area. The more movement we see, the faster we should stop.
Breeds And Petting
Some breeds are more open to petting than others. For example, the Siamese is a playful breed that will require attention from us, as will the Ragdoll.
There is no need to be alarmed if our cat resists physical touching. It can be a personality aspect. It depends a lot on the moment in which the kitten first started socializing with us humans.
Our vets can help us with some strategies to get our cats to be more willing to accept our petting.
We have covered every part of our cat’s anatomy that is pleasant for them to be petted. We also covered the ones who are off-limits.
We have to respect every cat’s individual personality. We may find one that enjoys touching more than another. That is normal. It happens with us, and we are reasoning beings. We have friends who hate compliments, hugs, or words of affection, and we have some that love to hug and say nice, caring words. That doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. It just means they have different personalities. And it is better to respect that.
Now is a good time to go and pet our cats. If you don’t have one, adopt and give a home to a beautiful creature that will keep you company and give you love.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.