How to Pet a Cat?

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How to Pet a Cat

Most of us have come across an adorable cat at least once in our lives. Although apprehensive, we make an effort to show our affection to the cat and try to pet the furry little thing. But with no surprise, the feline expresses its resentment through either biting or just simply running away.

To lower your chances of being bitten by a cat and upsetting it, take some time to read through this article and learn the tendencies of cats when it comes to petting them. Here are some steps you can take to pet a cat.

Approaching the Cat

1. Establish Trust

This is where it all begins. Cats, like humans, are reluctant to trust random strangers that are almost 10 times the size of them. So whenever you see an unfamiliar cat, make sure to avoid any sudden movements and try to approach it slowly.

Initially, you would want to keep a fair distance between you and the cat and try to lure the cat towards you by talking to her. If you are lucky, then the cat will feel less threatened and eventually come near you.

2. Allow the Cat to Make the First Move

Not every cat is the same, and each one behaves differently from the next. If a cat wants your attention, it is more likely to approach you itself. So whenever you enter a house that accommodates these adorable creatures, just go about your day and let the cat show signs of affection as opposed to approaching it yourself.

Cats are curious by nature, so it is only a matter of time before it approaches you and starts sniffing. Some of the signs of affection displayed by cats include rubbing their cheeks against you, making purring sounds, sitting on your lap, and meowing at you.

Woman petting a cat while using laptop

3. Take Small Steps

Once you have gained the cat’s trust, you can then begin to pet and give scratches to it. However, make sure you do not overstep the line as there are some areas on the cat’s body where it strongly dislikes being touched.

You will want to start slow by gently rubbing the cat’s head when you pet a cat. It is best to avoid touching the cat anywhere else around its body unless you have completely built a trusted bond with the cat.

4. The “Tummy Trap”

You might come across a cat that rolls on its back and stares at you while trying to look as adorable as possible. Naturally, any person would immediately assume that the cat is making an invitation to rub its belly. But that is not the case. What it means is that the cat is indicating that it trusts you with not violating its personal space.

Therefore, going for the belly rub is a breach of the cat’s personal space, and it will surely get the person bitten or even clawed. However, that is not to say that all cats despise getting rubbed on the belly. Some cats enjoy it while most cats do not. Nevertheless, it is best to avoid rubbing a cat’s tummy when petting a cat.

5. Identify a Moody Cat

Identifying an irritated cat is perhaps an essential step to consider before you pet a cat. Part of the reason for that is many people often misunderstand a cat’s gestures when they are approached by one. Just because a cat comes close to you does not mean they are seeking affection from you.

Woman holding and petting a cat

As I mentioned earlier, cats are curious creatures, and the main reason they might approach you is to sniff you and just assess you. Why might they do this, you ask? Well, it is sort of a 50-50; the cat may be hungry and is hoping to be fed or simply wants to play.

Again, this does not mean that the person being approached gets permission to pet a cat. To be sure of an irritated cat, look for the following signs:

  • Flattened ears
  • Absence of purring
  • Growling or hissing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapidly thrashing the tail

Petting the Cat

Although cats are unique in their own way, there are a few universal spots where most cats like to be petted. So if you know how to approach a cat, you also need to know where to and where not to pet a cat.

6. The Safe Zones

Touching a cat is one of the ways to communicate your affection towards it. The top of a cat’s head between its ears is generally the safest spot where you can pet a cat. Similarly, under the chin and along the cheeks is also where most cats like to be petted and are considered a cat’s “purr zones,” so this is where you want to start.

Male hand stroking a kitten

7. The Ears

Once the cat shows signs of content, you can even try rubbing its ears gently as some cats might like it. Just be sure not to hurt the cat or pull its ears. Cats are very sensitive creatures, and they might retaliate if you do it wrong.

8. Back Rubs

If the cat has become friendly and comfortable enough, then the chances are that it will sit on your lap. And if so, you can attempt to give it a few back rubs that will stimulate the cat. Gently run your palm from the cat’s head down to its spine towards the tail. However, though enjoyable, this type of petting can quickly overstimulate the cat, which may entice it to bite you.


This brings us to the end of our guide on how to pet a cat. Remember, always approach a cat slowly or otherwise just let it approach you itself. Give pets around the areas where every cat is known to enjoy, such as the crown of the head, under the chin, and around the cheeks. Cats that are especially reluctant to be petted may prefer a brushing or grooming session, so get yourself a brush and see if the cat likes it.

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