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How Does Your Cat Want You to Pet Him?

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Petting is one of the simple joys of owning a cat. It's an excellent way to de-stress and show affection to your cat. But there's more to petting than simply wrapping your arms around your cat and gently stroking them. For cats, petting is a love language all its own but with governing rules.

Some cats enjoy petting once in a while. Others, not so much. You may be wondering, what's the best way to pet your cat and show them love, while respecting their boundaries?

Here we explore the art of effectively petting your fur baby:

Identify If Your Cat Likes Touch

Petting your cat can be a hard one to call. It's easy to misjudge your kitty's signals and end up touching them in the wrong way, in the wrong spot, or petting them when they're disinterested in physical touch.

Naturally, humans are social beings who enjoy physical touch and affection. On the other hand, cats have a wild ancestry and a solitary lifestyle. Even today, they're still inclined to behave that way, explaining why some cats find physical touch and affection somewhat overwhelming.

As such, it's crucial to understand when to pet your cat and determine whether they're enjoying it. If your cat shows any signs that they don't want to be touched, stop. Sometimes petting your cat against their will can lead to petting-induced aggression.

Signs of Cat Enjoyment:

  • Choosing to initiate contact
  • Leaning into your hand
  • Purring, drooling, and kneading you with their front paws
  • Tail held upright and gently waving from side to side
  • Extremely relaxed posture and facial expression such as ears up and pointed forward
  • Gentle nudges when you stop stroking them

Signs of Cat Displeasure:

  • Pulling away, shifting, moving, or turning their head away from you.
  • Passiveness/ inactivity to petting
  • Ears flipped sideways or back
  • Excessive blinking, shaking their head or body or licking their nose
  • Sudden discomfort and a sharp stare towards you or your hand
  • Biting, growling, hissing, swiping, or batting your hand away with their paw
  • Rapid and sudden instances of grooming
  • Rippling/twitching skin on the cat's back
  • Thrashing, swishing, or thumping tail

Pro Tip: Your cat may want to be petted at one time but not another. Let kitty make the first move. After that, analyze their body language during the encounter.

How To Pet a Cat?

Each cat is an individual, and there isn't any perfect spot to pet a cat. It's therefore up to you to find the right place/s to pet your cat. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when finding the best place to pet any cat.

  • Has your cat consented to any physical touch or not?
  • Pay attention and look out for any subtle signs that indicate whether your cat is enjoying the interaction or is uncomfortable.
  • Where are you touching the cat? Does your cat want you to keep touching them there? As a general rule, let your cat feel in control and lead you during touch interactions.
  • Watch the intensity, frequency, and duration of petting. Does your cat enjoy it?
  • Most cats like having their heads stroked, chin or behind the ears.
  • Most cats dislike belly pets.
  • Many cats dislike having their tail or paws touched or petted.
  • If your cats resist petting, it may be for a valid reason. Petting is known to stress out some felines.

Benefits of Petting Your Cat

Petting offers both you and your cat a ton of benefits, including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Reduced feeling of loneliness
  • Beyond the health benefits, petting is a human-cat bonding experience. It is a way of showing mutual love and care as well as an opportunity to relax together.

The Bottom Line

Petting is a beautiful way to bring you and your feline friend closer. However, not every cat finds petting pleasurable. Always be sure to check in with your cat's signals when it comes to petting and identify what works best for your cat.

More importantly, let your cat initiate the petting sessions to avoid any space invasion or aggression.

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