Some cats just can’t get enough of stroking – others just tolerate it or even reject it. Read here why some cats do not like to be petted and what you need to consider when petting so that your cat can enjoy it.
Many cats love to snuggle and cuddle with their humans. They press tightly against humans, demand pats, and some even like to lie down on their humans’ stomachs or chests, purr, and fall asleep there. Some cats even demand petting from complete strangers. Other cats, on the other hand, only accept brief pets, hate being picked up, and would never consider laying on top of a human. We explain where this behavior comes from and how you can convince your cat to cuddle.
That’s Why Cats Want to Be Close to People
When a cat hugs and lets you put a human, it’s similar to the behavior cats are born with. Kittens cuddle up to their mother cat from the time they are born. This place means safety, warmth, and absolute security for newborn cats.
When the cats later snuggle up tightly to their people, it is a sign of great affection and trust. Even now she enjoys closeness, warmth, and affection.
Reasons Why Some Cats Don’t Like to Be Cuddled
But there are also cats who don’t seem to like being stroked or cuddled. While some cats enjoy brief stroking, they would never consider laying on top of humans. If a cat doesn’t want to cuddle at all, there can be various reasons:
No or Too Little Socialization in Kitten Age
The first weeks of life are considered the imprinting phase. If the young cat doesn’t get to know any people during this time – or even has negative experiences with people (such as being suddenly picked up, roughly handled, and forced to cuddle) – this experience will also influence the cat’s behavior later on.
If a cuddly cat suddenly refuses to be petted, that’s a warning sign. Pain, often arthritis in older cats, can trigger this defensiveness. A trip to the vet is essential.
Just because a cat doesn’t like cuddling and laying on people doesn’t mean they don’t like or trust their people any less. Just like humans, cats have different characters with different needs.
We must condone cat behavior – forced cuddling or picking up under protest does more damage to the cat-human relationship than it shows the cat how nice cuddling can be.
5 Important Rules for Cuddling and Stroking
Veterinarian Sabine Schroll, who is particularly concerned with behavioral medicine for cats, names five rules that we must absolutely observe when petting and cuddling our cats:
- It is better to stroke it more often and for less time – for some cats it becomes uncomfortable if the stroking lasts too long.
- The head, neck, and chin are the “public” areas where most cats like to be petted.
- The private areas begin behind the shoulders, on the stomach, and on the paws, which one only strokes with an express invitation and with a cautious, polite approach; for some cats, there is even an absolute taboo.
- Petting and cuddling should be an interactive activity between cats and humans – simply petting while watching TV, reading, or on the phone tempts to overlook the cat’s stop signals.
- Cats that don’t like being petted will tolerate human desires once they’ve learned that afterward, they get what they prefer: play, treats, or their freedom.
The cat is most likely to gain trust if it can say that it now doesn’t like being stroked or no longer – and if these signals are not only understood but also respected.
Getting Shy Cats Used to Being Petted
Most cats can, under certain conditions, learn that petting and cuddling with people is a beautiful thing. Anxious and poorly socialized cats simply have no experience of relaxed cuddles. They fear hands because they have been grabbed and held. Depending on their personality, these cats will either aggressively reject any contact or freeze in fear.
Basically, cats love it when they can at least retain the feeling of control in a situation or encounter. First of all, this means leaving all approaches, stroking and touching to the cat. She can decide when, how long and where she wants to have physical contact. In the simplest case – with suspicious cats, when getting used to it – it is sufficient to offer the back of the hand in such a way that the cat can typically rub its head on it when passing by.
In 2 Steps: Approach Particularly Shy Cats
However, if the distance to the cat is still so great that an approach is unthinkable, only patience and confidence-building measures will help.
- Step 1: For cats that shy away from people, the first major learning step is to be relaxed about being around a human. Cats get used to being close to people with treats, play for active cats and sometimes just being present in the room.
- Step 2: The first contacts are best made casually and casually, brushing them with one hand or at a greater distance with a play fishing rod, riding crop or peacock feather are ideal ways to make it look like an accident.
It is interesting that many cats, after weeks and months of being patiently approached, sometimes suddenly decide to let themselves be petted from now on.
To reduce stress and anxiety not only through unobtrusive behavior but also in the cat’s system, pheromones and all tasty, relaxation-promoting food supplements that are voluntarily ingested with the food are suitable. In this way, the cat’s mood becomes more stable and it associates experiences with pleasant emotions.
Paradoxically, cats develop the greatest confidence to eventually be petted when they are not being petted!