Do Cats Like Being Pet?

If you don't know that cats are particular creatures, then you clearly don't know much about cats. The good news is that, usually, if cats don't like something, they let humans know and they deliver that message in the form of a swift scratch that may or may not draw blood and leave a lasting scar—you know, just to remind you not to cross Lord Cat again.

Happy kitten likes being stroked by woman's hand.
credit: NiseriN/iStock/GettyImages

But, if you're looking for answers that don't come with the sometimes literal scars of experience, then, you know, fair. When it comes to one of the most common ways to show affection to a kitty, however, the answers aren't totally conclusive, unfortunately. Take, for example, petting. When we humans want to show an animal that it's giving us all the metaphorical heart eyes, out instinct is to reach down and rub our human hands on their furry animal bodies. Do cats like being pet? The short (and frustratingly vague) answer is: Some of them do sometimes. For the longer version, keep reading.

How do cats show affection?

One of the best places to start when digging into how to show affection to your pet is how they show that love themselves. When it comes to cats, there are a handful of ways they show love:

  • Bunting: You know that thing cats do when they basically ram their heads into you? It's called "bunting" and, believe it or not, it's a form of affection.
  • Kneading: This is another of those distinctly cat-like behaviors—it's when cats rub their front paws into something, almost like they're massaging (or, you know, kneading) that thing.
  • Bringing presents: Cats love to show their affection by showering their loved ones with gifts. Of course, in Cat World, this might mean a dead mouse, but you know what they say—it's the thought that counts.
  • Tail wrapping: If your cat wraps its tail around you, that means you're in the inner circle for sure.
  • Slow blinking: When cats make those slow, dopey blinking faces, that means they're content and feeling great about the person they're with.
Hand of person stroking head of cute ginger cat
credit: zsv3207/iStock/GettyImages

If your cat is giving you love signals like these, then you've crossed the first barrier for safely approaching for pets.

So, do cats like being pet?

When animals feel comfortable with each other (or with us), they show affection with a lot of physical contact. This is obviously true for dogs, but it's true for cats as well. Just take a look at the list above—at least three of the five surefire signals that your cat is showing affection involve physical touch. So, if your cat is affectionate (either in general or at least with you), then pets will be welcome...when she's in the mood for them, of course.

How should I pet a cat?

Once you've established that you have the kitty green light for giving pets, you want to make sure you're giving the kind of pets that your cat will love. Here are some tips:

  1. Go for the scent glands, which are located in the cheeks and at the base of the ears, chin, and tail.
  2. Scratch or gently rub these areas (use how hard your cat rubs his head against furniture as a gauge for petting intensity).
  3. Avoid the belly, because even though some cats like it, many don't.
  4. Read the room. If your cat is purring and looking content, then you've picked a good time to pet. If you hear a hiss or your cat's body tenses up, you might want to give him some space—or pay the consequences.