Why do cats hate having their tummies touched?

Has it happened to you too? Has your cat stood next to you showing you its belly and when you went to pet it, did it scratch you? Although surprising, it is a common behavior in the vast majority of cats. There will always be some who will gladly accept these pampering, even if it is in the belly, but it is not the general rule.

On this occasion we want to explain to you the reason for this reaction which, as you will see, has its logic. In fact, if you pay attention to the animal’s non-verbal communication, you will know how to interpret its body movements and you will successfully pass this confidence test.

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It is not an invitation

We often confuse the belly-up cat pose with an invitation to physical approach. Although it is true that this pose reveals his well-being and cordiality, we must not go beyond the limits of his territorial sphere . The feline is vulnerable when it shows its belly, since the vital organs are located under it.

Not surprisingly, being placed in this way is closely linked to his survival instinct. Positioned like this, it can defend itself from predators using its claws and teeth. Domestication has failed to erase that drive burned into their genes.

Therefore, it is more of a test of confidence than a suggestion to physical contact. Your pet is testing how far you are capable of going, whether or not you are worthy of his trust for respecting his space.

Take a look at their body movements

Once again, it is worth emphasizing the relevance of the postures, facial expressions and body movements performed by cats. In them lie the reasons for their behaviors. They warn us, but we are not able to interpret them properly.

In the case we are talking about, when you see your best friend belly up and you throw yourself to caress him, it is very likely that he will pull his ears back , that he will be rigid and that he will not stop moving his tail. If you continue, his hair will stand on end and will scratch or bite you. For the record, he has been warning you.

The 5 freedoms of animal welfare

As with the belly, kittens generally do not like to have their tails touched. It houses a multitude of nerve endings and its role in feline communication is crucial. Not allowing him to move his tail at will would be something similar to covering a human’s mouth or tying his hands and feet.

Touching its belly and, consequently, invading a vulnerable area has a lot to do with the second and fourth of the 5 freedoms of animal welfare. We develop them below. You will understand right away.

The first freedom: meet physiological needs

To enjoy the company of a happy cat, the first of the freedoms that you must satisfy is that of its basic physiological needs: eating and drinking.

The second freedom: safety and comfort

Every kitten wants to have a place to rest, that is exclusively for him, that is comfortable, safe, has a pleasant temperature and that he feels stimulated in it. Therefore, he must have a stuffed animal or toy that only he uses. It will take care of marking it with your body odor.

The third freedom: do not get sick

Your pet expects you to take care of its health. You should take him to the vet for regular check-ups or when necessary, without delay, because he shows symptoms.

The fourth freedom: express yourself

Felines are known for their extraordinary sense of freedom understood in its broadest sense. Therefore, it should not surprise you that if you touch its belly, it runs away. It is also not recommended that you retain it by force, the result would be counterproductive.

The fifth freedom: without fear or stress

Due to their sense of territoriality and their desire for control, cats are easily stressed by changes, especially if they are abrupt or sudden. Likewise, negative reinforcement does not serve the desired objective if you want to modify or introduce new routines. On the contrary, it turns them into skittish and elusive animals.

How to get him to accept my tummy caresses

Although you already know why he does not like pampering in the belly, there are certain guidelines that will help you make sure that they are better received . You won’t need them if you caress his head, neck, chin and back (his favorite areas for physical contact):

  • Never make sudden movements that force him to adopt a defensive position. He resorts to gentle manipulations, always observing the clues that his body movements give you.
  • Start with one of the front legs, caress it gently.
  • If you find that he accepts you, go to one of the backs.
  • If after a while he does not show signs of discomfort, you would already be in a position to caress his belly.

In short, being touched on the belly is not what your pet likes the most, it should not entail any obstacle in the bond that you have forged. Get to know your cat and respect its character and preferences. All of this adds up and will help keep us together. Don’t forget to put it into practice!


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