Almost All Cats Can Agree; Do Not Pet My Belly! Here’s Why…

There are certain cat no-no’s that many of us know all too well. Cats are not fans of water, for the most part. Cats do not like loud sounds. Your cat is also not too crazy about change. These ritualistic beings intrigue us with their many quirks and preferences, and no two cats are ever going to be the same. But there is one thing that almost all cats can agree on, do not pet my belly!

For most cats, the stomach is an “off-limits” area. While there are always exceptions, petting a cat’s stomach should be avoided, especially if it’s a cat you don’t know well.

But if you think about it, can you blame them, really? I sure as heck know that I don’t want anyone petting my belly. But that’s not for the same reason that your cat doesn’t like it when you put your focus on their undercarriage. 

Your cat is a highly sensitive animal, and there are a number of hair follicles located on their belly making it super sensitive to the touch.

If you do happen to pet your cat in this hot zone, you are likely to feel their claws and teeth sink into your skin…and not so delicately.

Pet-induced aggression is a very real thing, and petting your cat in a way that upsets them can lead to this serious issue. Repetitive contact can cause arousal, excitement, pain and even static electricity in a cat’s fur. Therefore pet-induced aggression comes as a result of over-stimulation, and your cat will respond in a way that might leave you with a few scratch and bite marks.

Want to know more about feline aggression? Read more here on ColeAndMarmalade.com: Signs Of Aggression In Cats And How To Help

My sweet boy, Tom, loves flashing me his belly while he enjoys the fresh air

Remember, your cat is a predatory being.

When they are on their back they are most vulnerable. They are flashing you their belly because they trust you, NOT because they want you to pet their belly. An animal on its back is in the most vulnerable position possible. This is your cat’s way of saying, hey, you’re pretty cool, I feel comfortable around you enough to let me guard down.

It does not mean, however, that they want you to swoop in with your hands and mess with their sensitive underbelly. Even though it’s tempting and fluffy, beckoning you to it, just observe and worship from afar.

Your Cat’s Favorite Places To Be Pet

Above all, monitor your cats body language when you are looking to pet them. Your cats ears and tail will speak volumes in terms of what your cat is thinking. 

“Watch the [cats] tail movement; the more dramatic movement in the tail, the more stimulated the cat is becoming as a result of petting…this is usually the signal of when to stop, or change, how you are petting the cat.” — Brian Ogle, an anthrozoology (the study of interaction between humans and other animals) instructor at Beacon College who specializes in animal behavior and pet ownership.

If there’s anything we know about cats, you do not want to go making them mad. You cater to their preferences and quirks, and if you don’t, well, be purrpared to feel the effects of your ignorance in doing so.

According to Lena Provoost, an animal behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine:

“Cats prefer to be pet and scratched on the head, specifically under their chin and cheeks, where they have scent glands.”

If you’re curious about the four most ideal spots to pet your cat, see below:

1. The cheeks. Cats have concentrated scent glands located on their lips and cheeks. We can’t smell the oily residue that is deposited from these glands, but other cats certainly can. Gliding your fingers across your cat’s cheeks and lips release these glands, explaining why these are welcoming petting spots for most felines.

2. The forehead and between the eyes. Some cats boldly initiate a petting session by bumping their heads against you. This is known as bunting. Your cat is conveying to you that he is in the mood for you to finger-pet the top of his head and to perform a gentle finger glide between his eyes.

3. Under the chin. Lightly scratch with your fingers, not your fingernails, under your cat’s chin to send him into a blissful state. This action causes some cats to drool!

4. Along the back from head to tail. For this area, delight your cat by gliding your hands alternatively in a stroking moving from head to tail. A contented cat will soften his body muscles and perhaps even elevate his rear end when you reach the base of his tail. Follow up the hand stroking with a grooming session, since the brush or comb will be the same motion as your hand gliding.

Each cat is unique and should be treated as such, but I think most of us cat owners are in agreeance when we say that we just cannot stop attempting to pet them on their belly! Fortunately, once our beloved companions trust us fully, they may grant our “belly-petting” wishes! If even just for a moment…

Property of Cole and Marmalade: Cole loves a good belly rub…for a few minutes anyways!

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Related Video: A Cat’s Guide to Training Your Human

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4 Comments

  1. Two of our three cats actually like to have their belly rubbed . . . sometimes. If they are lying on their back they usually enjoy a belly rub but sometimes it makes them frisky.

  2. My Pixie loves belly rubs. She turns over so I can reach her, and she does the air kneading thing with her front paws. She would let me do it forever if my hands didn’t get tired. In fact she will let me touch her anywhere. That includes her paws. Her brother Goblin however can take it or leave it. He purfurs me to scratch his front leg pits. Cats are weird and wonderful.

Written by Modi Ramos

Crazy cat lady since birth and lover of all things feline. Owner of CattitudeDaily and former Editor of iHeartCats. Meow!

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