How to properly pet a cat
Many of us opt for a cat pet because it looks cute and expects it to love our gentle touch all the time. With cats, more often than we think, petting and stroking them less may be more.
You may be wondering why one moment your cat seems to love the feeling of your hand on her face only to swipe and scratch the next moment. Now you shove her aside with disgust wondering why she is such a terrible companion and repulsive to your kind gesture. If only you know what your little furry friend wants right?
Do you understand your cat?
Cats were known to be solitary animals, incapable of being friends with animals around them until they became domesticated. Modern-day cats, unlike their ancestors, are seen more as companions than pest control animals they were initially used for. Still, your cat’s natural instinct may be similar to that of a wild cat but it is tamed and conditioned by your interaction with them.
It is known that human interaction and complex social skills are something cats have to learn within a very short period while they are still very young. If this social conditioning doesn’t come at the right time, which is between when they are born to seven weeks, they may tend to behave as wild cats.
With this, domestic cats have learned to become very social animals, able to form close relationships with humans, other cats and other animals around them.
Your cat must have made you see how much they like being comfortable. They put their scents everywhere in their environment because it helps them own it and feel at home. Whenever a foreign smelling object or person comes into their space, they may tend to be unfriendly or try to create their scent on you.
Don’t get it twisted, your cat loves being stroked.
Despite the myths, we have seen how affectionate cats can be, but remember, this type of human interaction has to be learned.
Every cat is unique. A cat’s reaction to being stroked depends on their relationship with you, your gender, the parts of their body being stroked, how they are generally handled and if they want to be stroked or not.
If you stroke a cat properly, it should not react aggressively but should show signs of positive emotion. Putting too much pressure or stroking on the wrong spot may agitate them. To achieve a seamless petting that is both pleasing to you and your cat, it is better to do it on your cat’s terms.
Many experts advise that you allow your cat to be in charge of the interaction. Let them come to you, they usually show signs that they are comfortable with you petting them. Then you can stroke in the right places- where their scent glands are concentrated.
When to stroke a cat
Not every time or any time you feel like. Instead, what you want to do is provide the cat with as much control as you can over the interaction. You do this by just two simple steps. According to scientific studies, the interaction will be more pleasing to a cat when she initiates the interaction.
It is always better to allow the cat to come to you.
This is especially if you do not own the cat and you want to pet her. Extend a hand, allow her to sniff you and watch her reaction. A cat that wants to be stroked will come close. If she doesn’t and seems uninterested, try some other time.
When she comes to you, she wants attention.
When she climbs unto your lap and lay down gently, she probably wants to be stroked especially if it is a habit. So start stroking her gently. However, she may just want to lay down undisturbed and use you as a source of heat to keep her warm.
Stroking and petting
It is hard to go wrong if you focus on areas with scent glands, which is usually on the cat’s face.
Begin with a gentle chin-scratch
Gently, use your fingertips and nails to scratch around her chin. Look for the part where her jawbone connects with her skull and gently caress. You will notice how she will push her face into your palm to enjoy it better.
Stroke her on the cheek
Run your hands on your cat’s cheek which is just behind her whiskers. Follow through from her chin and slide upwards and backward, you may find her rotating her whisker in excitement.
Move your hands up a little and stroke around her ears
Use your finger and focus on areas around and behind her ears applying a little more pressure than on her cheek. This area is a spot full of scent glands, so be sure to stroke her there.
Stroke the side of her face
Most people just go ahead to stroke the cat’s body and run their hands all over her belly when her face is where she likes being stroked the most. Take your time on her face, use single fingers to stroke her whole face from the top of her head making circles down to areas around her mouth.
Now you can stroke her body
Since you’re all so familiar with this one, you know how she arches her back to increase the pressure while you are petting her back because she likes it. Run your whole hand now from your cat’s neck through her back to the base of her tail. Repeatedly massage her neck, going back and forth from head to tail. Try not to make front and backstrokes, stroke in one direction from head to tail like you’re brushing down her fur with your hand, take it slow and apply some pressure.
Avoid stroking her tail. Always keep your hand moving and watch out for signs that they have had enough.
If she turns around, gently stroke her belly
Cats do not lie on their back too often but when they do, it could mean either of two things. First, they may do that to show that they are ready to fight, especially when they’re in combat with other cats or animals to display their claws. More with the friendlier cats, they may reveal their bellies on fewer occasions when they want you to playfully stroke them and you’d notice their excitement.
Signs of positive emotion
It is good to know what your cat is feeling so that you either stop or continue. Positive emotion means she likes whatever you’re doing. Some positive signs include:
- Tail firm and held up or moving from side to side with eagerness to make contact.
- Gentle purring and kneading softly against you.Looking completely relaxed with ears facing forward, pricked, and eyes closed.
- Your cat may nudge you gently when you stop stroking her briefly trying to tell you to continue.
Signs of dislike
- Moving or turning away from you.
- Hissing and loud purring.
- A sudden and quick turn of her head towards you or your hand because she is agitated.
- Snapping her teeth at your hand, biting or swiping your hand away.
In conclusion, you have to learn to pay attention to your cat properly and understand when it needs some petting and stroking from you. Remember, every cat is unique, and it may take a while for them to build a strong bond with you. So, allow your cat to initiate the interaction and let her come to you freely to be stroked. However always listen to her reaction and pet her gently when she needs it. If she shows any signs of dislike, stop any form of petting or stroking to avoid further agitation.