How To Properly Pet A Cat

How To Properly Pet A Cat

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If you've ever owned or been around a cat, you can know that they don't always want your love. Cats will give you love on their own terms, and sometimes this means not at all. However, as a pet owner, you likely want to show your cat you care by petting them.

So, how do you do this without ending up with claw marks on your face or an upset kitty? At JoyousJoyfulJoyness, we've put together the ultimate guide on how to pet your cat and make sure they get the affection they need!

Remember That Each Cat Is Different

While you may know that cats are "independent" animals, you should remember your cat is different than every other cat. While one may be okay with being pet for minutes on end, another may only appreciate a few seconds of attention before they walk away to look for something more interesting.

For this reason, it's always important to remember that your cat may react differently each time you try to pet them or may not necessarily respond to the tips we've outlined below, and that's totally normal! You should always expect the unexpected when it comes to petting cats since they have their own personalities, moods, and emotions.

Always make sure to gauge how your cat feels before you try to pet them since a grumpy cat might just attack you, and that's no fun for either of you. Remember that no matter what, your cat cares about you, even if they don't show it in the same way that other animals show it, like dogs.

Is There A Right Way To Pet A Cat?

While it might seem that there's no specific style or way you need to pet a cat, that's actually not true. In fact, there are many animal scientists who have studied cats and the science behind whether or not they want to receive a pet from those around them and whether that reaction changes based on if they know the person or they're a stranger.

They recorded various cats being stroked in their home on two separate days during this experiment. On the first day, they're petted by their owner. On the second day, a stranger comes in to pet them. After evaluating this data, they were able to come up with recurring signs that signaled when a cat was happy to be stroked by the person around them.

Common signs that a cat wants to be pet includes:

  • Blinking their eyes slowly
  • Holding their tail upright
  • Rubbing against the person licking or petting them
  • Kneading or purring into the person

However, if the cat reacted in ways such as licking its lips, trying to run away, flicking its tail, or trying to bite the person in front of them, it is evident that the cat was in no mood to be stroked.

It's essential to recognize the behavioral differences between both cats so that you'll understand if it's the right moment to pet your cat.

What's The Best Spot To Pet A Cat?

The best spot to pet your cat will depend on multiple factors, including how they act in their home, what mood they're in, and how often you're trying to give them affection.

One of the most popular spots is by their spine, just about where the tail meets. This spot is called their "petting zone" since that's where they will often get the most enjoyment and attention. However, it's not always the best spot to pet your cat for an extended period of time. For example, if you try and pet their "petting zone" for too long, they might be pretty overwhelmed by all of the petting they're receiving. If this is the case, it's best to move your hand to another spot on their body that they'll enjoy.

Another good spot is over their head, reaching towards their ears, around the cheeks, near the gums, or by their chin. Again, these are very sensitive areas for cats since they're known as one of the most vulnerable parts of a cat's body since they can't reach up to protect them.

It's best to experiment with different petting positions to see what your cat likes the most!

Are There Any Areas Where I Shouldn't Pet A Cat?

While it might be evident that you shouldn't pet a cat in its eyes or mouth, there are other areas where it's best to avoid touching your cat.

For example, cats are often annoyed with people touching their belly area because they feel exposed, so it's best to avoid reaching towards that region at all costs. Along with this, you should also avoid the tail area as this is one of the most sensitive parts of a cat's body, and they may feel threatened if you try and touch their tail.

If you accidentally pet those areas, your cat will likely tell you that it's not happy with those additions to your petting session. So just remove your hand and try again on a new area!

What If My Cat Refuses To Be Petted?

As we mentioned earlier, not every cat will enjoy being petted by people around them. This can be because they're sick, grumpy, or even in pain. If you figure out that your cat doesn't like to be petted and tries to avoid it when you try and do so, there's no reason to force it on them. Instead, just give them their space and don't touch them when you know that they won't respond well to it.
Instead, try to bond with them in other ways, such as sitting next to them, stroking their back gently, playing with them, or feeding your cat.


While it might be challenging to understand how your cat wants to be a pet, recognizing their favorite spots will play a massive part in the bond that you share with them. At JoyousJoyfulJoyness, we know how precious that bond is between you and your cat. We'd love to help you honor that relationship with a custom pet portrait of your favorite feline friend.

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1 comment

My cat (Renny, a Chartreux breed) is almost 3 years old and very loving. I especially love that he sleeps with me on top of the covers near or on my feet. Sometimes when I pet him he uses his bite — not hard, just a little, then he’ll start licking the same place. Do you know why?

Rebecca Kilgore

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