When observing cat behavior, it is very helpful to know when your cat is telling you they’ve had enough petting from you. Depending on how your cat was handled as a kitten, he may enjoy much more stroking than a cat would that was teased or abused as a youngster. Typically, if a kitten has at least four handlers in his first few weeks of life, he will be much friendlier and relaxed toward people.
So what are the cat behaviors that signal it’s time to leave your cat alone? Signs that it’s time to move on include a definite thump of the tail, an abrupt flick of the tail, skin twitching or a shift in body position. If you continue petting, your cat may turn around and look at you as if to say “didn’t she get the message I want to be left alone now?”
If you’ve gotten one or more of these signs from your cat, but continue petting, there is a good chance your cat will turn around and nip or scratch you. It’s not that cats hate being petted, but rather a case of overstimulation. Petting is pleasurable for them, but can become uncomfortable for them quickly. Your cat may also have some pain sensitivity in a particular body area, or a build up of static electricity, especially in winter when the air is so dry.
Cats may also have preferences when it comes to where on their body they’re petted, they may like to be stroked on the head, but not like to be petted further down the back. When petting your cat, observe his reaction to see if he has a preference.
Most cats do not like to be petted on the belly. The belly is a very vulnerable area for cats, and if stroked there, it can quickly cause them to go into defense mode and bring out all his claws…not a good thing!
Cats like attention from their people, but it’s important to know when they’ve had enough. Reading their body language correctly will keep them happy and you from getting scratched or bitten….a win/win for all!