Every feline fan has wondered at some point about the best places to pet a cat. After all, there’s nothing better than getting cuddly with a kitty after a long day (though we all want to be sure our furry friends are enjoying the snuggles as much as we are). Luckily, many animal experts are more than happy to share the spots where cats practically beg to be petted — and which spots they want you to avoid at all costs.
Although every cat has its own personal happy spot, animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai tells Inverse that the cheeks and under the chin are usually great places to start. “This is where the scent glands are located, so the cats like to rub against objects (like your hand) to share scent,” she explained. A 2015 study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science backs this claim: Researchers analyzed 54 cats’ reactions to being pet in different spots, and their faces — especially around their lips, chins, and cheeks — won out big time. So don’t be surprised if your four-legged friend starts purring immediately after you touch those areas.
You might be “tickled” to know that the researchers didn’t even try to rub the cats on their bellies in the study. Anyone who’s ever attempted that with a cat knows they risk getting met with some claws in return — and maybe even teeth. As veterinarian Marty Becker explains on VetStreet, the reason behind cats’ terrible reactions to belly rubs stems from the fact that our kitties are well aware that they can be seen as both predator and prey. “When a cat is in a fight for his life, there’s no territory as important to protect as the belly, since that’s where all the vital organs are readily accessible,” Becker writes. “A touch there from a cat who hasn’t learned that you don’t mean any harm will trigger a defensive maneuver.”
However, the researchers did try analyzing the cats’ reactions to getting pet on the base of the tail — and let’s just say it didn’t go well. As The Washington Post reports, that spot can be considered an erogenous zone for many cats, and touching it might overstimulate them. It’s worth noting that some folks out there claim their kitties adore getting pet in this spot, but you might think twice about trying it on your kitty — especially if you’re not prepared for a negative reaction. And as for the back? Cats can usually take it or leave it.
Happy cat petting!
Next, see some of the most beautiful two-faced cats on the internet in the video below: