Why Do Cats Love Being Petted? Everything You Should Know About Petting Cats

Cats love being petted because it is always a pleasurable experience for them. The sensation is also very reassuring to the cat and makes it feel relaxed and secure with you.

Key takeaways:

  • Why cats love being petted
  • How to best pet a cat
  • Signs your cat wants you to pet it
  • Signs your cat doesn’t want to be pet
  • Top 7 places to pet a cat
  • Top 5 spots to avoid when petting a cat

Why Do Cats Love Being Petted?

Contrary to their reputation as dominant and aloof animals, cats, just like most pets, love being petted by humans. Just as a cat would nuzzle and rub itself with another cat for bonding and intimacy, it gets the same kind of good feeling when a human pet it (especially when you stroke the right spots). Stroking and rubbing give cats a reassuring feeling and is also very pleasurable to them.

Some cats, however, love to be petted more than others, and this is why you should look out for signs (we’ll discuss this later) to know if your cat wants you to pet it or not.

Why Does My Cat Want To Be Pet All The Time?

Some cats can really love getting petted to the point where it would seem like an obsession. If your cat displays this kind of behavior, here are some possible reasons why.

  • It loves you: cats are very territorial by nature, so for a cat to desire your touch almost every time, shows that it really loves you.
  • You Pet It So Well: Perhaps the most obvious reason your cat would trouble you every time for a stroke or rub session is that you’re really good at hitting the right spots. If a cat enjoys being petted by a person, it’ll always come back for more. Not everyone knows how to pet a cat, so cats get obsessed with owners who know how to do the job well.
  • It needs love: Cats that desire petting from their humans all the time are usually those that didn’t get enough love or attention during their childhood or got abused by humans at some point in their lives. So when they find someone to show them affection, they pour their hearts out.

That said, it’s good to know how to pet a cat properly, as this can strengthen or ruin the bond you both share.

Why Do Cats Love Being Petted?

How To Best Pet A Cat

The best way to pet a cat is to start off slowly, observing the cat’s reaction. This way, you’ll be able to notice any signs of invitation or resistance from the cat. Cats don’t like being forced, so if your cat doesn’t want to get a pet or isn’t enjoying your touch precisely and you’re still pressing for a cuddle, it may smack or bite you.

Also, it’s best to begin gently from the sides of the face and allow the cat to guide you. It may rub itself against you or begin to turn itself so you can pet other parts of its body (some cats will lie on their back so you can pet their underside). Continue petting and stop when you notice their facial expression change or they begin to hiss or growl.

Note, however, that if you’re petting someone else’s cat, you’ll need to be extra careful because cats don’t like being petted by people they don’t trust. Here are some steps:

  • Tell the cats owner your intentions
  • Ask the owner if the cat has any sensitive spots or if they have specific areas they like being touched.
  • Approach the cat (but don’t be too forward) and hold out your hand
  • Let the cat come close to you while you’re still holding out your hand in a relaxed position
  • The cat will most likely smell your hands and then rub itself on you.
  • Begin with a gentle rub on the face or back and go on from there.
  • Don’t pick up the cat!

Now you know how to pet a cat; next, you need to know the signs to look out for that’ll reveal whether your cat wants to be petted or not.

How To Best Pet A Cat

Signs Your Cat Wants To Be Petted

1. Rubbing Itself On You

This is a cat’s typical way of getting your attention or inviting you to come to pet it. It may do this once or continuously.

2. Jumping Up To Your Laps

This is a clear sign displayed by really affectionate cats when they want their owners to pet them. Normally cats don’t like getting picked up, so if it voluntarily climbs up to you, it’s playtime.

3. Purring

If your cat comes to you purring, it’s a clear sign it wants some attention and petting. Also, if you pet a cat and it begins to purr, it’s a sign that you should continue; the cat is enjoying it.

4. Other Body Signs

These include wagging of the tail, lying on its back (this is actually an invitation for a belly rub), standing up on two feet for a hug, and soft meowing. If your cat does any of these close to you, don’t hesitate to pet or play with it.

Signs Your Cat Doesn’t Want To Be Petted

1. Growling

If you hear a soft growl while reaching out to pet a cat, it’s a warning sign. You’d best retreat immediately or risk getting bitten.

2. Hissing

When a cat hisses, it’s mostly a sign of contempt. Stop petting a cat when it hisses.

3. Turning Away From You

This is a clear sign your cat is not in the mood for any sort of play or petting. It probably just wants to be left alone.

4. Biting, Scratching, Smacking

This mostly happens when you forcefully pet a cat: it’ll bite you or use its paws (and claws) on you just to make you stop.

5. Other Body Signs

An angry facial expression, short outbursts or cries, rippling or twitching hairs, and swishing tails are all signs that a cat is displeased and doesn’t want to be petted.

Top 7 Places To Pet A Cat and Top 7 Places To Avoid

Under the chinTail
Neck and shouldersThigh
Butt area above the tail (not all cats like this)Anal or genital area
Back of the earsThe base of the tail

Note that cats have different personalities, so some cats may tolerate or even enjoy being petted in some unlikely areas (such as under the belly or tail). Some cats will even allow petting anywhere so long as it’s from a human they love.

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