Are you petting your feline friend the right way? If not, your cat may snap at you, according to cat behavioral experts. They have found that cats generally dislike being petted against the direction of their fur, around their legs, sides of their bodies and throat region. These areas are likely to be tolerated by the cat with the expectation of being fed afterward. Dr. Lauren Finka, a cat behavior expert from Nottingham Trent University, suggests that the best way to pet a cat is around its face, particularly the cheeks, base of the ears, and under the chin. These areas are rich in skin glands that produce scents, and cats are known to use them to spread their scent.
It is a common misconception that cats enjoy belly rubs, but this is not the case. Felines may feel vulnerable when their vital organs are exposed and may view the soft stroking as a threat. Therefore, it is best to avoid petting their bellies. In addition, just because a cat is rubbing up against you, it does not mean it wants to be handled. Dr. Finka shared some signs to be aware of that may indicate that your cat is not enjoying the interaction, such as turning its head sharply toward your hands or freezing. Other indications may include flattened ears, licking its nose, rippled fur, or twitching tail.
Cats have been by humans' sides for around 10,000 years and are the world's second most popular pet after dogs. In ancient Egypt, cats were seen as royalty and were adorned with jewels and fed with food fit for a king. Today, cats are known for being cuddly, curious, and loyal but also have an evil side that comes out when petted incorrectly. Therefore, it is essential to understand the right and wrong ways to pet a cat to avoid snapping or other unwanted behavior.
As Dr. Finka advised, "When it comes to petting, it's best to remember that cats, as a species, aren't inherently social or tactile." By petting them in the right way, such as around their face, you can show your cat affection and bond with them without causing annoyance or distress.