How to pet your cat properly

How to Pet a Cat Properly

Cats are elegant, enigmatic animals. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that there are right and wrong ways to pet a cat.

Many of us are in the dark about how to properly pet our feline companions. Given that one of the best ways to communicate and bond with your cat is through touch, such knowledge is invaluable for moggie mums and dads.

We take a look at how to successfully approach petting your cat…

Understanding cat affection

First things first: not all cats are the same. Some cats love human contact, others may react aggressively to unwanted physical attention.

Interaction with people is something they learn during a relatively short period – between two and seven weeks old. As such, our characteristics are also important in determining how cats show affection; personality and gender, the regions of their body we touch, and how we generally handle them are all believed to be contributing factors.

Correctly interpreting your cat’s behaviour

Cat behaviour is a complex process that can be difficult to discern at times. For instance, if your cat approaches you, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be petted. Their meowing may simply be letting you know it’s time for food or play.

Rubbing up against or leaning on you are the clearest signs that being petted is probably desired.

What to do when petting your cat

For starters, you should always be gentle. Let them come to you and respect their personal space and boundaries. It’s all about building trust and sharing a loving relationship, which is one of the best parts of having a pet. Once that bond is made, you can then focus on learning where your cat likes being petted most of all.

Popular petting zones include:

  • The base of the chin
  • The base of the ears
  • On the cheeks, behind the whiskers
  • The base of the tail (lightly!)

Use a combination of soft finger glides and light scratches to keep your cat happy while petting them. You should also ensure they are comfortable and respond accordingly if they seem to be favouring one area or technique over another.

How not to pet your cat

Cats know what they like and what they want when you’re petting them – and they will display obvious signs of dislike or tension if you go about it the wrong way. These include:

  • Actively trying to move away
  • Staying quiet (no longer purring or rubbing)
  • Bursts of over-grooming
  • Rippling or twitching skin, usually along their back
  • Flattened or rotated ears
  • Biting, swiping or batting your hand away with their paw

If you notice these occurrences when petting your cat, a change of tact is in order; however if this behaviour continues despite you making positive changes, as this could signal an underlying medical issue. We would always recommend an appointment with one of our vets if you have concerns.