Cats are definitely a lot more finicky and temperamental when it comes to being petted. They are also very selective of who they let close to them and pet them. For those who aren’t too familiar with cats and how they behave with people, it may seem like a no brainer on how to pet a cat, but when it comes to cats, there are certain things you should know about how to pet them so that you don’t agitate them or cause them to bite or scratch. Cats like to do things on their own terms and that includes, working their way up to people and allowing you to pet them. They are control freaks and you should allow them to control the interaction and give you permission to pet them.
Here are some tips to follow on how to properly pet a cat.
1. The cat approach you
A cat can tell a lot about you by sniffing you, so let the cat get a good sniff of you before you start petting it to help ensure it feels comfortable with you. Once he does, gently reach out a finger or hand and let the cat sniff again. If he doesn’t show any interest in your hand, or exhibits a suspicious attitude, let the cat move on and make an attempt again, later.
2. Wait for the cat’s “Ok”
The cat will give you a greenlight sign by making a little meow, or will rub his body against you. This is your sign that you have a greenlight to pursue petting him. He might even give you a little head bump against your extended hand, which indicates that he does want a bit of attention. With your greenlight, you can give him a gentle love-pat on his head.
3. Pet the kitty if he lies on his side or hops in your lap
A cat will really show that he wants attention and petting if he lies down and rolls on his side, or better yet, hops into your lap. Go ahead and pet him after either gesture. If he hops in your lap he becomes a little fidgety or agitated with your petting, that will indicate he just wanted warmth or a place to relax. If not, keep petting him, but stay along the spine. Cats are creatures that love to be petted while lying on their side, and a big indication they are content with that, is they will begin to purr.
4. Let the purrs begin
If a cat begins to purr while you’re petting him, you should give your self a medal because that means you have accomplished making the kitty content and happy. Purring is the perfect sign that the cat is happy and content, and wants your attention. The louder the purr, the happier the furry feline is.
5. Don’t get over confident
It may be easy to get a bit over confident when petting a cat, so keep an eye out for signs of agitation. Cats are easily overstimulated and can quickly turn from happy, to irritate. Signs that a cat is getting agitated include, twitching of the tail, fidgeting, growling, swatting at your hand, biting, flattening of the ears, nipping. Any sign of agitation should end the petting session and let the cat go.
Cats have special areas that they love to be petted and it’s kind of hard to go wrong if you know where to touch and pet them. Cats have areas on their bodies where scent glands are located and are the best places to pet a cat. If you know where to pet a cat, and what areas you should steer clear of, you will have a better chance of being able to pet a cat and begin to develop a ‘like each other’ relationship.
Here are a few more tips on areas to focus on, and areas to stay away from
When you start to pet a cat, start with the chin. Gently use your fingertips to scratch under the chin and watch how she reacts. Between the ears is another petting delight for a cat. Remember to always be gentle petting between the ears, and keep a look out for flattening of the ears. That’s a sign of discontent. Her cheeks are also a good petting zone. Pet the cheeks where the whiskers are and if she likes it, her whiskers will perk up. You can also try to run the back of your hand along the side of her face, or stroke the cat from the head, along her spine, to her tail. Use just a little pressure and make one, continuous motion from tip to tail and her back should arch a bit as your hand ripples the length of her body, indicating it feels good to her.
Avoid these areas
Unlike a dog, petting a cat should be fluid movements. Dogs typically don’t mind their fur getting ruffled and hands going in multiple directions as their petted. Cats like the petting to be in a continuous motion and keep in mind that some cats don’t like to be petted from head to tail. One area that should always be avoided and considered out of bounds, is the tummy. Tummy petting with a cat is a no-no, and just because a cat rolls onto his back, exposing his belly, it does not mean it wants its belly rubbed. Some cats don’t like being touched on the stomach at all and can risk getting bit. Another area to avoid, are the feet and toes. If you try to touch these areas, do so with caution. Only if you know the cat very well, should you try to pet or even touch their feet and toes.
These are tips from cat experts, so if you follow these petting tips, you may make a friend or two with the felines.