where do cats like to be pet?

Purring is one of the best indicators that a cat is enjoying being pet. Image: Steve Gschmeissner / Science Photo Library. Petting your cat might seem like an innocuous activity, but new research suggests that …

Purring is one of the best indicators that a cat is enjoying being pet. Image: Steve Gschmeissner / Science Photo Library. Petting your cat might seem like an innocuous activity, but new research suggests that it’s actually probably making them uncomfortable.

“There are right ways and wrong ways to pet your cat,” said Dr. John Bradshaw, from the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, in a recent interview with National Geographic.

In fact, he goes so far as to call petting your cat “an unacceptable practice.”

Bradshaw’s study, published in the journal Society & Animals , is the first scientific examination of what cats need from their petting sessions. The answer: not very much, unless they initiate it themselves.

The study found that early on in the relationship between humans and cats, we began to pet and stroke them without first understanding what signs from the cat meant that they were enjoying or tolerating our affection.

“When you talk to most people who have companion cats, one of the first things they’ll tell you is that they can read their cats’ minds,” says Bradshaw. “That’s based on the fact that they make these surmises based on the meows, whether it’s purring or not, and facial expressions.”

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How to properly pet a cat according to experts

Only recently, Bradshaw explains, have scientists begun to try to understand what these various feline communications really mean.

“The purring is particularly interesting,” he says. “There’s some very good research by [Swiss animal psychologist] Dr. Daniel Mills that shows that the purring that cats do when they’re in a state of pleasure has a different acoustic structure from purring that occurs during distress or illness.”

In other words, the physical act of purring comes with a very obvious, mechanical trigger, and can be hard to fake.

“The cat initiates the purring. It’s not just something that happens when they’re content,” Bradshaw adds. “It’s a communicative signal, and it means something.”

So what do cats want out of their petting sessions? The answer is simple: They don’t really care how much you stroke them or for how long. Bradshaw simply suggests that you “stroke your cat in the way it wants to be stroked.”

If Fido or Mittens seem like they’re into petting, keep doing what you’re doing. But if they turn around and bite, scratch, or hiss at you, stop immediately.

“A lot of people simply don’t understand how to stroke a cat,” Bradshaw says. “Some people seem to think that it’s just another way of grooming.”

It may be time to re-evaluate the amount of petting your kitty is getting, and to try something new if you want Fido or Mittens to feel any affection for you at all.

Here’s where cats like to be petted

Cats like to be petted on their head, necks and just above their shoulders.

A new study by researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences suggests that petting your cat might actually make them uncomfortable.

Why Do Cats Like Being Pet?

“There are right ways and wrong ways to pet your cat,” said Dr. John Bradshaw, lead author of the study published in the journal Society & Animals, in a recent interview with National Geographic.”When you talk to most people who have companion cats, one of the first things they’ll tell you is that they can read their cats’ minds,” says Bradshaw. “That’s based on [the fact] that they make these surmises based on the meows, whether it’s purring or not, and facial expressions.”

Cats can communicate with humans via body language, vocalizations and the occasional hissy fit.

Here are some of their most common communications:

Purring – Cats will often purr when content, but they also do so to communicate with humans. It might mean “feed me” or show happiness — just don’t confuse it with a distressed/sick cat’s cry. One way to tell the difference is that happy or content cats typically use a long and steady purr, while those in pain usually produce a shorter and less continuous sound.

Body language – A cat who fluffs up its tail and arches its back may be showing annoyance or even anger at a situation or person. If its ears lie flat and it stays low to the ground, that’s usually a sign of fear or submission.

Hissing – This is an obvious one — if your cat hisses at you, it’s not happy. A hiss might also indicate aggression on the part of an animal with which your cat is about to fight.

Growling – Though not as common in cats as in dogs, growling may accompany other signs such as raised fur and bared teeth to show displeasure and distrust of another individual — including you!

Ears – Often turning toward sounds will enable your cat (and you!) to figure out what it is. If both ears are forward, that generally means interest in something.

Eyes – Watching your cat’s eyes can also help you understand his or her emotional state. Dilated pupils indicate excitement, while other changes in the size of the iris may reflect fear or aggression. And don’t worry about making eye contact with your cat — it’s not something to be scared of!

Do Cats Like Being Pet?

Dr. Bradshaw discourages petting because “you’re just stroking fur,” but if you insist on petting your kitty, he suggests doing so for short periods rather than long ones and rewarding them during that time with attention and treats (like a game). He says that while cats often get rewarded because people like the way they purr, petting them may not be helping because it causes cats to act differently than when they’re playing or eating.

“If you want a good indication of what the cat is really thinking, watch its tail,” says Dr. Bradshaw. “

Where do cats prefer to be petted?

Many people assume that cats just like to be petted anywhere and everywhere. However, many people eventually realize how much particular cats seem to enjoy being petted on specific places more than others. If you want your cat to feel loved and happy, learning about their favorite spots can help you show them affection in the best way possible!

Head

Cats enjoy being petted under the chin, just below their whiskers. This area is near the back of the head, so it puts cats in a state of comfort and relaxation. Be careful not to place pressure on this area as it can be very sensitive!

Neck

The scruff of the neck is an especially popular spot for cats. The neck has a lot of nerve endings which makes it super sensitive, so many cats love being petted there because it feels good!

Sides of the face

The sides of the face are another favorite place to be petted. Cats especially seem to enjoy having their ear region rubbed and scratched, so take advantage of the extra attention!

On top of the head

This area can be slightly more sensitive than other places for cats, so many cats will prefer not to be pet there. If your cat seems comfortable with you touching that area of their face, though, it’s a great way to show them that they’re loved and cared for.

Under the chin and along the neck

These areas of a cat’s body are incredibly sensitive. As such, many cats will enjoy having them rubbed and scratched more than other areas of their face. Always be gentle with these spots, however, as they can easily become uncomfortable if you put pressure on them!

Along the sides of the body

Cats love having their sides rubbed, so you’ll often find them purring up a storm. Pet your cat along their ribs and stomach to make them feel even more loved!

Along the back towards the tail

The area of a cat’s body that is just before their tail can be especially sensitive. If you want your cat to feel extra loved, pet them there to make their purrs grow even louder!

And some cats don’t like petting at all

Cats are so cute and cuddly, with their majestic fur coats! But some of them simply refuse to be petted at all. What makes them this way? There are several possibilites which explain the problem.

For some cats it’s more about the place where they are petted than about the act of getting stroked, since it has to be done in a gentle way. If you try to move your hand over their fur too “energetic”, they will simply hide, run away or even attack you because they don’t want this kind of treatment.

If this is your problem, you should observe the cat and find out, which kind of petting is most pleasing to her. Does she like it if you scratch behind her ears? Or does she prefer your stroking along the back with a bit more pressure? You might wonder where all this information is coming from, but cats show this through body language. If they like certain kinds of strokes they will purr, nuzzle and show other kinds of satisfaction while they’ll get a bit more angry or run away when you do something they don’t like.

If the cat isn’t sitting still while being petted there might be another reason why she doesn’t feel comfortable with this gesture. All pets have certain “safe zones” which give them a feeling of security and warmth. If you try to pet a cat in it’s “safe zone” she will feel trapped and retreat quickly, since the only way to escape would be an attack on you which is something they don’t want. The best thing you can do is observing your kitty for some time and finding out where she feels comfortable

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