As cat-lovers, we may have at least one time to deal with their playful cats. One minute they adore being stroked but may bite or swipe at their human companion right after. It seems to be easy to blame these feline friends but what matters is that we are not stroking them properly. If we cherish a bond with cats, we should know how to pet them. The Noble Pawtrait’s best guide below will reveal the best way to pet our cats!
What Do We Know About Cat’s Ancestry?
To understand how to pet a cat, we have first to trace our cats' ancestors. Though the African wild cat, the domesticated cat's ancestors, were considered true pest control, modern-day counterparts turn out to be humans' close friends or even "fur babies".
The social human-cat relationship is dated back to about 4,000 years ago. It appears to be sufficient time for a species to acclimatize into new habitats and increasing social demands; it is not the case for our cats. Specifically, modern domestic cats show comparatively modest genetic change from their ancestors, so their brains are possibly wired to function like wild cats.
Wild cats live in solitude and spend most of their time and effort on indirect communication, sending visual and chemical messages to stay away from direct contact with each other. Therefore, domestic cats cannot be passed down on diverse, intricate social skills by their relatives.
Meanwhile, humans are by nature a social species that adores an intimate bond with cats and dogs. As we have infantile appearances with large eyes and forehead, a round face, and a small nose, we find cat faces lovely. Unsurprisingly, we are all keen on stroking, cuddling, and smudging over our cute feline friends the first time we see them. However, it should be noted that some cats may find this kind of interaction a little overwhelming.
What Is Known About Human Bond With Cats?
Despite their fondness of being stroked, many cats may sometimes choose food and pet toys over humans. Pets are so playful that we may see cats and dogs playing with cat toys instead of interacting with us. We want to have fun with cats, but it’s impossible if they don’t learn how to interact with humans (which is most effective when they are from 2 to 7 years old.)
Human characteristics, such as our gender, age, and personalities, play an essential role in close human-cat interaction. Besides, how we usually handle our cats and which regions in their body we tough may also affect their response.
Moreover, like humans, some cats might respond aggressively to unwanted physical contact. Meanwhile, others put up with that contact to exchange for food and lodging. The tolerant cat is not always happy. Cats described by their owners as tolerating instead of disliking petting will be subject to higher stress levels.
How Can We Stroke A Playful Cat Properly?
The key to success is to focus on providing our playful cats with various options and control during their interaction with us. For instance, cats should have the choice of whether they like being petted or not as well as the control over where and how long we touch them.
Unlike dogs that desire attention and scratches, cats turn out to be indifferent to human interaction. Thus, we need a little self-restraint because, according to scientists, human-cat exchange initiated by cats instead of humans will go much more smoothly. In other words, we can be more likely to create a good interaction by letting them come to us naturally and reward us with snuggles.
Also, we need to keep a close eye on our cat’s behaviors and postures when touching them to ensure they feel comfortable. Keep in mind that less is often more when it comes to touch. This is also true during the veterinary handling process and the usual encounters.
Image: Cat health
Generally, we can pet cats’ faces where scent glands lie. When extending our hands, we may find them interested in the pressure on their cheek/head. It means that they are giving their scents to us. This practice is called bunting, which helps cats make their territory and show their affection. Most cats like to be petted at the scent glands between the ears, cheeks, or under their chin. Besides, they adore light pressure down their back and neck to their tail.
Also, remember that our feline friends prefer to be petted on their tummy, feet/legs, and tail. Of course, several cats like every bit of affection, regardless of wherever they are petted and whoever pets them. But generally, you should avoid petting a cat you hardly know on its stomach or extremities.
How To Tell Whether Your Cat Likes Being Petted?
To make sure we know whether a cat is enjoying being petted, we can consider the following signs:
Signs of affection or enjoyment:
- Its tail is held upright, and it chooses to initiate contact.
- It purrs and kneads us with its front paws.
- It waves tail from one side to another while held in the air.
- It shows a gentle posture and facial expression with its ears being pricked, pointed forwards, etc.
- It gives us a warm nudge if we pause while we're stroking them.
Signs of dislike or tension:
Image: Paws In Training
- It shifts, moves, or turns its head away from us.
- It is in still passive voice with no purring or rubbing
- It is exaggerated, blinking, shaking its body or head, or licking its nose
- It begins rippling or twitching skin, usually along their back.
- Its tail is thrashing, swishing thumping tail.
- Its ears flatten to the sides or rotate backward.
- It suddenly turns its head to face our hands or us.
- It may bite, swipe or bat our hands away using its paw.
If our cats act in any or all of those signs, we’re petting them incorrectly. In this case, we can keep a stable level of touch and attention. However, since each cat is an individual with changing preferences, allow cats to take the lead regarding touch or petting.