Should you rub your cat's belly?

Should you rub your cat's belly?


Cats are very individual in their needs and preferences, more so than other pets.

Those who have had a feline will know that if you’re not doing something the way he or she wants you to, it’s only a matter of time before you find out (watch out for the claws).

If a cat doesn’t want a cuddle, you won’t get one.

If a cat doesn’t want to play, you’ll be ignored.

And if a cat doesn’t want you to touch them – don’t.

When caring for a pet, it’s important to respect their boundaries and there is one area in particular on their furry body that most cats don’t like humans to go near: their belly.

The belly – which can include both the sides and chest – is often a no-go zone because it’s where cats carry their most vital organs.

‘Cats can get quite stimulated or excited when they are playing or in “hunting mode” and it’s generally not advisable to touch any cat in this state,’ Cats Protection tells

‘Even when touching a calm, relaxed cat, there are many places on the body that are quite vulnerable or sensitive.

‘Cats that roll on to their side or back and expose their belly are communicating that they feel relaxed enough in the person’s presence to expose such a vulnerable area. The best response is to verbally acknowledge the cat’s greeting, rather than stroke or tickle their tummy.’

According to Cats Protection, many cats also don’t like being touched in the following places:

• Paws
• Under the legs (i.e. armpits)
• Back legs
• Bottom half of the back, especially if it’s stiff or painful
• Base of tail
• Genital area

It’s not just where you stroke them, it’s also how you do it – cats do not appreciate having their fur stroked against the normal direction.

‘Cats can be very subtle in their body language and can be difficult to “read” as they have not evolved the many visual communication signals that are seen in social species, like dogs.

‘Spend time watching your cat – see how they move and interact with their environment, their facial expressions, body postures and vocalisations in different situations – and you can start to build a picture of how your cat is feeling.’

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home recommends spending quality time with your feline to find out exactly what he or she prefers.

When stroking them, consider the intensity (if it’s a soft tickle or long stroke) and frequency, as well as duration.

Recently adopted your feline? Before you head straight for the closeness, simply sit near them or engage in an activity in their vicinity, and see how they react.

Alternatively, pick up some toys and strengthen your bond through playing together.

Once you feel comfortable, proceed to more intimate cuddles – but pay attention to your cat and what their body language is telling you.

If the cat claws, scratches or bites, stop immediately.

Showing their belly to you is a sign of trust, so respect their choice.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a feline that lets you near their most precious area, be proud – it’s the biggest compliment they’ll ever give you.

Cat Week

In honour of Catfest, we will be partnering with the festival to bring you seven days of the funniest, cutest, coolest and most amazing cat content.

Until Saturday 29 June, read stories about all things cats, including kittens abandoned on rubbish dumps to fantastic cat art, and everything in-between.

Catfest will include cat-themed literature and film plus live music, poetry and crafts. There will be rescue kittens, talks from cat experts, Instagram cats and an auction as well as cocktails, cake and much more. Tickets have sold out, but you can still get involved on social media.

Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit Erham Rescue and International Trash Cat & Dumpster Dogs to help cats and kittens as well as street animals in need.

Are you the owner of a fantastic cat? Then tweet us your cutest kitty pics @MetroUK and @MetroUK_Life for a chance to be featured!

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