I Can Has Cheezburger?

Tumblr Thread: Petting Cats Is A Grooming And Bonding Activity

  • 1
    Font - prokopetz Follow If you're unsure how to pet a cat (i.e., maybe you didn't have cats around growing up), it can be helpful to bear in mind that petting is a grooming activity. Grooming each other is how cats bond. Of course, each cat will have individual preferences, but the fact that it's a grooming thing gives you two basic places to start: Scratch areas that the cat has difficulty reaching, like the chin and upper throat, behind the ears, or the the very top of the head. (Watch the bod

    Remember that, at the end of the day, petting your cat in the way that it wants will not just make your cat happy, but it will also make your relationship with your cat stronger. And let's be real, a happy cat cuddling up to us at random times of the day is one thing that will make us happy too.

  • Advertisement
  • 2
    Font - Work your fingers deeply into areas of thick fur where tangles are likely to form, like around the shoulderblades or the ruff of the neck. (You may come away with a handful of loose fur; this means you're doing it right.) Also, if you're unsure of how to approach, try extending your hand with the palm up and the fingers relaxed for the cat to sniff. It's the cat equivalent of a handshake - cats sniff each other to see where they've been, and for humans, it's the hands that carry our scent

    Even if you do not know all of this, cats tell you exactly what they want and need, exactly where they like to be petted and when. All you have to do is listen and follow their cues. They will show you love in their own way, and when they do, you will know that you have earned it. 

  • 3
    Rectangle - prokopetz Follow It's kind of amazing watching all the folks who didn't know that petting is a grooming behaviour come to the realisation that cats lick you because they want to pet you back.
  • 4
    Font - naamahdarling Follow Another thing you can do with skittish cats is offer your *closed fist*. A cat that is shy of an open hand that can grab may approach a closed hand that they don't perceive as trying to grab them. (Needless to say, don't actually grab them, please.) They bonk against your hands (and your head, if they are at head level) the same way they bonk against one another's heads. It's a friendly greeting that often ends in friendly cats turning and licking each others shoulder
  • Advertisement
  • 5
    Font - They scent mark by rubbing their faces on things. Their cheek glands produce a pleasant-smelling (to them, we can't smell it) pheromone that projects friendship and reassurance. When they scent mark you like this, it is a friendly gesture. So with this in mind, try letting the cat bump your fist, then gently rub the fist past the side of their face as they rub their face against your fist. Think of your fist like a cat's head, and you are scent marking them back. You are sharing a friendl
  • 6
    Font - A worried cat may warm up after a few passes of this, and you may be able to pet the neck and back of the head. The under-chin/throat area can be a little dicey. They don't casually kiss each other there.very often and it can make them feel vulnerable. Rolling over to show the tummy does not always mean the same thing it means for dogs. Unless you know the cat, be very careful touching the tummy. It might not be an invitation. It might be a readiness posture.
  • 7
    Font - Digression: cats don't show submission by rolling. Rolling is a defensive maneuver that prepares them for possible combat with other cats by putting their most powerful weapons - their teeth and back claws - into play simultaneously. They fight other cats by hugging with the front legs, biting anything they can reach, and kicking with the incredibly strong hind legs. It is an advantageous position for fighting/play fighting, lets them see all around them AND above, where humans usually ap
  • Advertisement
  • 8
    Font - So yeah, some cats love tummy stuff. Some hate it and just want you to admire from afar. A gentle hand placed on their tummy should tell you whether they want actual pets there or not. If they stretch or open up their body language, that's good. If they tense or "sit up" to look at your hand, that's not good. Stop petting and go back to the head. Obviously if they grab your hand and rabbit-kick and bite, then you should not pet them there. Some cats have a hair trigger. Sorry about that.
  • 9
    Font - naamahdarling Follow You can also pet them without moving your hand, just hold it out and let them rub against it. This will give you a good idea of where they like to be touched and how hard and for how long. Very shy cats, once they realize you are willing to pet them without grabbing, may really come to enjoy approaching you. We have a cat like this. If you let him see you respect him by not over-petting, he will rub against your hands and legs for a long time.
  • 10
    Font - The moral is that cats are not inconsistent jerks, it's just that we misinterpret their body language. It's also that we do not respect their boundaries when they present them, because we, as humans, want to be allowed to pet all soft things, and, somewhat spoiled by dogs, who love it nearly unconditionally, we unreasonably expect it of cats, a very very different animal. If you want a cat to come back for more, don't push yourself on them. They will remember you are a Cool Human and wil|
  • Advertisement
  • 11
    Font - bakerstmel Follow Two other things to consider with all of this: blinking and body position. If you offer your finger or hand, the cat will look up into your face as they sniff. Blink, slowly, and do not stare. This communicates a lack of aggressive intent. It also helps if you break your body plane backward; that is, lean back a little. If you are leaning backwards and not staring, you're not about to pounce. I spend the first five minutes of an exam leaning against the wall and looking
  • 12
    Font - People who are excited to see a cat tend to lean forward, make eye contact and (as noted above) raise their voices, and then the cat thinks they're in trouble. This is why cats are attracted to the people in the room who "don't like cats;" they're the ones communicating the least possibility of conflict. 64,478 notes

    Can't get enough of ICanHasCheezburger? Then you're in luck because we're now on Instagram!

- Points


About the Author

Next on I Can Has Cheezburger?