Petting animals reduces stress in humans. But are these cuddles always welcome? While dogs seem to like it, the same cannot be said of cats. Do they like to be petted? The answer is obviously yes, but only on their terms.
Touch of confidenceDespite the common myth that they are cold and aloof animals, some cats are more social and outgoing than others, so much so that they themselves require human affection. Petting and holding your cat helps build a loving and trusting relationship. But sometimes a caress can turn into a complicated matter or a more unique than rare event.
Ambiguous behaviorsIt’s not always easy to interpret the signals sent by a cat and therefore it can happen to touch them in the wrong way or in a place they don’t like. First of all it is good to avoid touching a cat that you don’t know, at least not before making friends with it and letting yourself smell it. But even when it comes to your pet, it’s not obvious that he always appreciates your cuddles: sometimes he rubs against you to be stroked, other times he runs away or reacts badly just because it wasn’t the right time. An example of this ambiguous behavior can be seen when cats roll over on the floor and expose their bellies. This is universally recognized as their way of showing that they trust you. But if you try to touch his belly at that moment, in most cases he will respond with a scratch. Not because he doesn’t like being touched on the stomach at all, but because he doesn’t like it at that exact moment.
Respect bordersAre there places where all cats love to be petted? As we said, there may be points where he likes to be scratched, but not always. The safest areas are the head, shoulders and neck. While some cats like to have their tails touched, others recoil and even feel pain. When you’re petting him, always pay close attention to his reactions to your touch, respecting his preferences and boundaries.
Leave him in chargeDon’t be alarmed if your cat just doesn’t show interest in cuddling or physical contact. It could just be part of his personality or upbringing. If a kitten isn’t socialized with humans at an early age, he may be more reluctant even after so many years in the family. They may also need more coaxing if you adopt them as adults and don’t know their backstory. Building trust is a gradual process. But the most important trick to always consider is to let them take the lead: let your cat sniff your finger before you stroke its forehead. If he starts headbutting you, that’s a good sign. And if he wants more cuddles, he’ll push his muzzle into your hand himself.
Can they be held?Besides being petted, do cats like to be picked up or held? Again, only sometimes. Even the most affectionate cats and seekers of cuddles do not necessarily appreciate being held. To find out, allow them to climb onto your tummy when they want, while you’re on the sofa or in bed, and try to hug them gently. If they feel safe in your arms, they’ll be more inclined to stay there. If, on the other hand, they writhe and want to run away, it means that there is no need to continue.