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My Cat Doesn’t Like Being Hugged- Why?

19 August 2017

I’d like to hug my cat but they won’t let me – why?

Here are 10 common reasons why most cats really don’t like too much close and personal handling:

  1. Cats prefer choice. This means that if your cat approaches you and wants to get close and have a cuddle, then by all means engage in some mutual loving.
  2. Cats do not like to feel trapped and most dislike being restrained especially if they have no option to escape. Try and avoid picking them up and hugging them tightly. If they have all four paws on the ground they will feel happier.
  3. Research has shown that if we handle kittens properly they will be more likely to respond to being handled as adults. The crucial time for this is between 3 and 8 weeks. Short, gentle and regular handling sessions throughout the day is recommended. Try and ensure that a range of different people get involved so that they will be socialized to men, women and children (under supervision).
  4. Cats generally do not like their tummies being touched. This is a vulnerable area for cats so avoid tickling or stroking them there.
  5. A large number of cats have a low threshold for time spent cuddling. Try and have regular but shorter episodes of contact.
  6. In cat language, a raised tail in the shape of a question mark is a greeting. If a cat approaches you like this it’s usually an invitation to stroke and pet them.
  7. Cats have a number of scent glands on their body. An abundance of these are found on their face. When they rub you, they are exchanging their scent. You can take this as a compliment as they are sharing their scent profile with you.
  8. Cats show affiliation to another cat by mutual grooming and licking. If your cat likes to lick you it’s likely that they see you as a member of their social group.
  9. Some cats are just not tactile. Many show their affection by choosing to sit close to you. If this describes your cat be content that they are wanting to be around you.
  10. A slow blink is another way that a cat will show you affection. Try doing it back – most cats will respond.
Cat showing tail up greeting signal
Cat showing greeting behaviour

So if your cat isn’t the hugging kind, just show them affection in different ways and be grateful that they choose to live with you.

Remember to give them choice and respect their species’ specific behaviours. By doing this your cat is more likely to want to be with you.

For more information on feline behaviour and details of forthcoming courses contact me.

To celebrate National Hug Your Cat Day, Sainsbury’s Bank have designed a nice animation, illustrating some of these tips.

CAT BEHAVIOURS EXPLAINED

Just what is your cat trying to tell you?

Rubbing against your legs or furniture

This is my home, and I scent things to find my way around.

Showing you its behind

Don't be offended, I'm just being friendly. We cats say hello to each other by sniffing tails, just like dogs.

Ears forward

I'm pleased to see you. If you hold out your hand, I might give it a bump to say hello (or a sniff if I'm shy).

Slow closing of eyes/blinking

You're getting a kiss. If you copy me, I might just do it again. If I'm in the mood.

Ears upright, sitting
up and alert

I'm listening intently. Was it a bird or a mouse? I'm not sure, but I'm off to find out.

Kneading

I'm getting comfy. Kneading you makes me feel good, as I think about how I used to knead my mum.

Rolling on back to expose stomach

I trust you, but watch your fingers if you decide to give me a tickle; I might be in the mood to play.

Back hunched up with tail and fur on end

I'm being defensive. I'm puffing my hair out to make myself look bigger, so whatever I'm scared of leaves me alone.

Cat in a box/bag

This might look silly to you, but it makes me feel safe; I can see you, but you can't see me!

Cat in a box/bag

This might look silly to you, but it makes me feel safe; I can see you, but you can't see me!

Cat 'gift'

I've brought you a mouse to try and teach you how to hunt. See what a good hunter I am.

It's your turn now.

Purring

I purr because of most things (dinner, strokes, sitting in sunshine), but mainly because you've given me some form of 'contact' and I like it.

2 responses on "My Cat Doesn't Like Being Hugged- Why?"

  1. What a fascinating article really informative. Thank you Caroline I feel I understand my cat slot better.

  2. I agree very useful as I am a first time cat owner!

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