How to stroke a cat correctly

Among humans, as social beings that we are, physical contact is usually interpreted as a manifestation of closeness and affection. Among felines, on the other hand, this equivalence does not occur. Excessive physical manipulation does not correspond to what cats understand to be healthy social behavior.

In fact, despite the 4000 years of distance that separate the current domestic cat from its most direct ancestor, the African wildcat, the kittens with whom we live continue to think like wild cats. Therefore, knowing how to properly stroke a cat is essential in order to teach it to enjoy interactions with humans.

Know and increase your cat’s tolerance level

Has it ever happened to you that you were pampering your pet and suddenly it has bitten or scratched you? Far from being an isolated tantrum, you should look for the origin of her discomfort in the way in which you have manipulated her. You may have overstepped its limits or failed to abort before exceeding its tolerance level.

Observing how he reacts to your caresses, attending to when you do it, where you do it and for how long it is decisive for your moments of mutual knowledge to be satisfactory. It is not the same to make short or long strokes, carry them out for or against the hairline or accompanying them with pinching .

Although it is not an exact science, we can say that, in general, cats enjoy caresses at the base of the ears, on the chin and on the cheeks. On the other hand, they do not like having their belly, back and base of the tail manipulated. Not surprisingly, these are vulnerable areas and of great value for communication.

Basic recommendations for petting a cat and being successful

According to the opinions of ethologists, the socialization stage, the one between the second and the seventh week of the cat’s life, is the ideal one to familiarize it and make it enjoy the caresses that the humans in its family circle give it.

Following the criteria of the specialists, we summarize the most noteworthy points:

  • If he does bite or scratch you, never jerk your hand away or yell. You would be encouraging him to attack you more intensely.
  • Never scold or punish him for attacking you. Otherwise, he will identify your pampering with an experience that scares him and will avoid you.
  • It is also not convenient for you to hold him by force when you take him in your arms or to address these manipulations at times when he is unprepared, such as when he sleeps. Knowing that you are being held back or in inferior conditions causes fear for the pussycat.
  • If it is difficult for him to interact with you, you should start by doing it from a distance: calling him, playing with him or maintaining eye contact. Positive reinforcement with food as the main character always works. You will only have to caress him and offer him his favorite treat and withdraw it when there is no caress. The association will be immediate.

Learn to interpret their emotions

It is especially necessary that you teach children to detect when the cat is upset and does not want them to continue handling it. Therefore, now we collect all the signals that would be letting you know that he is enjoying your caresses or if, on the contrary, he is stressed and does not want you to continue. Take note.

Enjoyment Tension
·         Keeps its tail upright or flicks it from side to side while being stretched out in the air ·         His tail is wagging, he hits you with it
·         Purrs ·         He is passive, we could interpret it as a sign of resignation
·         His ears are forward ·         He turns his head away from you and his ears are tucked back or to the side
·         His facial expression is relaxed ·         Shakes his head, licks his nose, or blinks insistently
·         If you stop stroking it, it looks at you to continue or nods gently ·         Curves your back and even bristles your hair
·         Narrow your eyes slowly in a clear expression of well-being ·         Put your hand away with the paw
·         It kneads you with its front legs ·         Attacks you by scratching or biting you without hesitation


Living together is learning and respect

As you can see, humans and felines live with disparate codes. Hence the importance of knowing your cat by observing him to respect his limits and know what his needs are at all times. Only then will you be able to strengthen the bond that you have forged.


Specialists insist that the kitten must be given full freedom to decide when and for how long he wishes to be handled . You should be receptive when he comes to you and not hold him back when he is tired.

If you pass this test of respect and love for your pet, the gesture will be pleasantly rewarded. He will know that you are worthy of his affection and he will love you even more. Make no mistake about it!

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