Maybe you have one of those cats who purrs wherever you touch her. Or maybe you have a cat who reacts to your strokes like your arm is a mouse, and she is going to kill it.
If a cat freaks out when you touch her, it’s not because she doesn’t want to be pet — at least not necessarily. Instead, it might just be because you’re not petting her in the right place.
According to a study published in 2015 in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, cats prefer to be stroked on their faces. The reason? Cats have scent glands in their cheeks, and underneath their chin. They like to rub these glands against objects to share their scent. One object they don’t mind rubbing against? Your hand!
If you have a kitty who is skittish to the touch, animal behavior experts recommend that you try rubbing her along the underside of the chin, especially where the jawbone connects to the skull. This should elicit plenty of pleasure-filled purrs.
More controversial? The area at the base of the tail. Cat lovers may already know that petting that spot can result in your cat completely freaking out from overstimulation. But some cats, animal behavior experts agree, absolutely love to be touched there. The only way to tell if your cat will like it is to try it out. But beware — even cats who seem to like it at first might be only able to take a few seconds of it before they nip at your hand.
The one area that no cat wants to be touched? Her belly! If you touch a cat’s belly, she will think she is being attacked by a large predator. And she will react by taking all four of her paws, and scratch at you like she is climbing a ladder.
In essence, cats are not like dogs, who mostly love belly rubs. But we knew that already! No matter how much you adore your cat, read her signs when you are loving her. Cats are in control of humans, not the other way around.
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