Why You Shouldn’t Pet Your Cat’s Belly

Listen to the audio version of this article

If you have a dog, a popular position for petting is often the belly rub. To most dogs, nothing feels as enjoyable as when you endlessly scratch and rub that tender tummy. Try that with a cat, however, and you will most likely end up with a scratched hand and maybe even a few bite marks. Why is it that a cat doesn’t enjoy a good belly rub?playful kitten on his back Why You Shouldnt Pet Your Cats Belly

Predator and Prey

A cat is an incredible predator but she’s small enough that she is also prey. That’s a heck of a lot of pressure on her. As prey, the last thing a cat wants is for a larger predator to have access to her most vulnerable area where vital organs are located. The natural response for a cat who has her stomach touched, is to spring into defensive mode. She may grab your hands with her paws (if you’re unlucky, her claws will also be extended and ready to protect herself) and then bite. She isn’t being mean to you – it’s a natural protection reflex.

Exposing the Belly

Why a cat would expose her belly depends on the immediate circumstances in which she finds herself. If she’s in a face-off with another cat, rolling over onto her side to expose her belly isn’t a sign of submission, but rather, the ultimate defensive reaction which communicates to the opponent that all weapons (teeth and all claws) will be engaged if a fight is to become physical.black cat Why You Shouldnt Pet Your Cats Belly

If a cat is stretched out on her back in a sunny spot in a room of your house and looking very peaceful and relaxed, it means she feels very comfortable and not threatened. She is secure enough in her immediate environment to enjoy the warmth of the sun on her tender tummy. Just don’t ruin that moment by thinking it’s ok to pet her in that vulnerable spot.

Triggering an Unwanted Response

For many cats, having their bellies rubbed automatically triggers that defensive reaction. Don’t take it personally or think that your cat has suddenly taken to viewing you as the enemy. It’s a reflex and your cat is just reacting in a normal way.

Need More Information?

For more specifics on how to establish a good bond with your cat, refer to the book Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett.

tlac advert Why You Shouldnt Pet Your Cats Belly

 

Due to Pam’s scheduling demands, we’re sorry but she is unable to respond to questions or remarks posted in the comment section. If you have a question about cat behavior, you can find many answers in the articles Pam writes for the website as well as in her best-selling books.

Cat Behavior Comments

comments

About Pam Johnson-Bennett

Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of the international hit TV series "PSYCHO KITTY" airing in the UK on Animal Planet and in Canada on Nat Geo Wild. She is award-winning author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.