Many cat lovers wish they could just shower their fluffy friends with affection whenever they felt the need. However, you might realize that cats simply don’t enjoy being petted all of the time. Perhaps part of the reason cats avoid physical contact at times is that many humans simply don’t understand the right way to pet a cat. Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of petting cats so that your kitty will always feel comfortable and loved.
How Cats Share Their Affection
When cats greet one another, they have their own body language that shows respect and affection. They will rub up against each other’s heads or lie close to one another.
If your cat does these things to you, it is generally a sign that they want you to reciprocate. Knowing the right way to do so is very important in developing a loving partnership with your kitty.
Showing Affection to Cats
When an unknown cat approaches you, don’t eagerly reach down to pet it. It may be looking for food instead of wanting your affection.
Before you touch the cat, allow it to become familiar with your scent. Doing so will calm the cat and it might cause the cat to let you touch it.
The following behaviors may be noticed if a cat is enjoying you petting them:
- They are softly moving their tail from one side to another
- Staying by your side
- Using their paws to knead you
Knowing Where a Cat Wants You to Touch and Where They Don’t
Paying attention to your cat’s body language when you are petting them is key to learning what they like and what they don’t.
Most cats like being touched behind their ears, down their neck, around their chin and above their head. However, if you touch their back or tail and they are likely to run away from you.
If your cat is feeling uncomfortable, here are some behaviors you might notice:
- They are turning their back to you
- When you touch them, they are becoming aggressive
- Their ears are lowered
- Their tail is thrashing quickly
- They have lowered their head
- Their claws are sticking out
- They are trying to get away from you
If your kitty is doing any of these things, it is time to stop petting them.
If there is one place that cats do NOT like to be petted, it is their tummy. Doing so will create high anxiety in your cat. This is likely due to the fact that the stomach is the most sensitive area of the cat’s body.
Petting Your Cat in the Right Spots
Knowing where cats enjoy gently being petted will cause them to feel safe and may leave them wanting more. Here are some of the best places that cats want you to pet them:
- Between and behind their ears
- Under their chin
- Their cheeks
- The base of the tail
Even if you pet a cat in these favorite places, you still need to pay attention for signs of aggression, as all cats are not alike.
Cat Petting Tips
Only pet your cat in one direction, because cats never want you to switch the direction of your stroking. You can try starting at their forehead and then gently petting downward toward the base of their tail. Begin petting lightly, and then you can try increasing the pressure if they like it.
Avoid petting your cat’s feet until you know them very well, as many cats don’t like their paws to be touched at all. If you must, touch their paws gently with one finger.
Anytime your cat bumps their head into your hand, it wants you to give it some love. If you don’t have the time for a petting session, just give them a few quick pats on the head to let them know that you care.
Give Your Cat Some Space
When you come home from work, your first instinct may be to run toward your furry friend and grab them. That isn’t exactly conducive to a cat’s personality. Instead, you may want to try ignoring them. Give your kitty some space and you just might spark their curiosity.
Try speaking softly around your cat, limiting eye contact, and seeing how your cat reacts. They might come to you. If not, you can approach them softly if they don’t show any signs of being uncomfortable.
These guidelines should help you understand how to pet your cat. However, remember that each pet is unique and above all, it’s important to pay attention to your cat’s reaction when you share your affection with them.