How To Pet A Cat

Cats are as unique as we are and they all have their own preferences when it comes to being petted. Some would be content with attention 24 hours a day, others have very little interest in being petted. It is up to us to read their body language and determine their own comfort levels.

Firstly, I am a firm believer in letting a cat come to you and not vice versa. Once you sit down on the sofa, you will generally find that it won’t be long before you are joined by a furry feline.

  • Once you have your cat comfortable, give him a slow and gentle stroke along his back. Don’t rush it, just glide your hand along his spine and watch his reaction. Does he look bored or appear uncomfortable?
  • The head and face seem to be the most liked places your cat enjoys being stroked.  Lightly scratch under his chin with your fingernails (see photo above). Does he stick his chin out as if to make it easier for you? Another favourite is between the ears, again using your fingernails, lightly scratch the area.
  • Cats have scent glands on their temples, cheeks and lips which secrete a feel-good pheromone. This is why you will see your cat rubbing on inanimate objects such as chairs and doorways. He is marking the spot, it gives him a sense of comfort. You may find that when you are petting your cat he will rub his cheeks and lips along your hand. This is a good sign of course.
  • I have found all of my cats love being scratched, quite hard (obviously not hard enough to break the skin), on the spine, just in front of the tail. I don’t know if this is because it is a hard to reach spot for cats to groom.
  • Some cats love their belly rubs, others hate it. Try it and see. Do be careful, though, if your cat doesn’t like it, he may kangaroo kick you with his back feet.

Signs your cat not is enjoying being petted

  • He will have a look of boredom or discomfort on his face. He may look around. This is a sign that you should stop, continue to pet him and you may end up on the wrong end of some sharp claws or teeth.
  • His tail may swish from side to side.

Signs your cat is enjoying being petted

  • Purring
  • Half closed eyes
  • Kneading
  • Drooling
  • Leaning into your hand

Benefits of petting your cat

Petting is a wonderful way for you to bond with your feline companion. But it can also help you to pick up certain medical issues at the same time. When you are spending time with your cat, feel along the coat for any lumps or bumps. Check his weight, you should be able to feel the ribs, but they should not be prominent. How does his coat feel, is it dry or greasy?

Petting is not only soothing for your cat, but it also has health benefits to humans too, it has been shown to lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

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