Petting a cat may sound simple, but for children or people who haven't spent much time around cats, it's important to know the do's and don'ts of approaching and petting feline friends. Petting in the wrong spot or using too much force or speed can agitate some cats, causing them to bite or scratch. We recommend letting it happen on the cat's terms- seek permission to touch her, and let the cat have control over the interaction.
1. Let the cat come to you.
Let the cat come up to you and sniff you before you pet it to ensure that it is comfortable. Reach out a hand or finger and give the cat the opportunity to sniff you out. If she shows no interest in your hand or shows suspicion, come back another time.
2. Wait for kitty to give you the okay.
If she sniffs your hand and meows, rubs her head against your hand, or brushes against your body, you've basically got the green light! The tell-all sign of an "okay" from a cat would be a head bump against your hand, meaning she wants attention. Give her some love by petting her softly a couple times.
3. Pet the cat if she jumps into your lap or lies on her side.
If the cat jumps into your lap and lays down, full speed ahead! You just got yourself a ticket to pet your feline friend. If she fidgets, that may mean she just wants some warmth or to relax. Otherwise continue to pet kitty along the spine. Cats also love to be petted when they are lying on their side, especially if they are purring.
4. Bring on the purrs.
When a cat purrs while you're petting her, you might as well give yourself a pat on the back, because you just got a gold metal in cat petting! Purring is a tell-tale sign that the cat is comfortable and wants attention. The loudness of the purr denotes the happiness level- the louder the purr, the happier the cat.
5. Never get too confident!
Watch for signs that the cat is annoyed when petting her. If she becomes overstimulated or is irritated by your poor petting technique, she might nip you! Here are some warning signs of over-stimulation: ears flattening, tail twitching, fidgeting, or growling.
There are a few places where it's hard to go wrong: areas where cats have scent glands are perfect for petting. Knowing where to touch, and when to stay away, can help ensure that both of you will enjoy each other's company and most importantly, like each other!
1. Focus on areas with scent glands.
Starting with a chin scratch is a great way to begin your Cat Petting 101 trial. Use your fingertips to gently rub or scratch her chin, and see how she reacts. Another great spot are between and behind the ears. Make sure you are very gentle and watch out if her ears start to flatten. Try kitty's cheeks, where her whiskers are. If she likes this, her whiskers will perk up. Another great technique is running the back of your hand along the side of the face. Lastly, stroke the cat from the forehead to the tail. Apply gentle pressure and make it a nice, fluid, continuous motion. Following these petting how-tos will ensure a better chance of the cat liking you!
2. Areas to avoid.
Always pet a cat in the same, continuous direction, as some cats don't like being pet from tail to head. Never pat an unknown cat, even though sometimes they enjoy it. The risk isn't worth a bite! A golden no-no rule is to always stay away from rubbing or petting the tummy. Unlike dogs, just because a kitty rolls onto its back doesn't always mean it's ready for a pet. Some cats don't even like being pet there at all! And lastly, approach the toes and feet with caution. Unless you know the cat pretty well, we couldn't recommend touching the feet.
And there you have it! You're a cat petting expert. Share with us your cat petting experiences by commenting below.