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The Science Behind Stroking Your Cat

This is an overview of the science behind stroking your cat. It includes a look at how cats have evolved to become domestic animals and how, where, and when you should stroke them. There are also some tips on reading your cat’s body language to help you to understand what they do and do not like.

The Science Behind Stroking Your Cat

Anyone who has ever owned a cat will know that most cats love to be stroked by their owner. They will come over purring and nudge you in the leg until you give them a little bit of affection. Some will even curl up happily on your lap while you give them a stroke.

On the other hand, there may have been times when you have reached out to pet your cat and they have either scratched or bitten you. This is probably because you were not stroking them at the right time or in the correct way. Believe it or not, there is some science behind stroking your cat. Here you can learn more about how to correctly stroke your cat.

To understand the science behind strolling your cat, you must first understand a little about cat ancestry. Originally, cats were wild animals that were then used for pest control before becoming loving family pets.

It is believed that the shift in the human-cat relationship occurred around 4,000 years ago. During this time, cats have needed to adjust to the increasing social demands, which is an ongoing process. Domestic cats still retain genetic links to their ancestors, which means they still have a wild streak.

In the wild, cats spend much of their time alone and communicate using noises along with chemical and visual messages. They do this just to avoid having to spend time with other cats. This means that they are not naturally social animals, unlike dogs as they live in packs.

Humans also differ from cats as we are a social species that have a need to spend time with others and a desire for affection. Most humans also enjoy contact with animals, hence the pleasure they get from stroking cats and dogs.

While cats have evolved to enjoy being stroked to an extent, affection must begin when they are young for them to accept human interactions. They must be handled and stroked by humans in the period up to them being seven weeks of age as this is their sensitive period.

If a cat does not have human interaction during that period, it is difficult to encourage affectionate behavior in the future. Therefore, if you have your cat from it being a cat, you should familiarize them with human contact straight away.

Whether a cat enjoys being stroked is not just about their genetics and early experiences; it is also about the person. For example, the personality and gender of a human can make a difference, as can how they stroke the can and on which part of their body.

Even if a cat appears to tolerate you stroking it, this does not mean it is happy about being stroked. In fact, cats can suffer from extreme anxiety and overstimulation if you pet them too often. So, this leads us to how you should stroke your cat.

It is important to note that not all cats are the same, so some like being petted a lot and are happy to have any part of their body stoked, while others only like stroking in certain places at specific times.

Considering these points, you should take your lead from your cat in terms of when, how, where, and for how long they want you to pet them. They should have choice and control during their interactions with you.

Although your instinct may tell you to pet your cat as much as possible, you need to apply a little restraint. It is better to wait until they come to you and they initiate the contact. Research shows that interactions last for longer.

You should also take cues from your cat during stroking to find out what they like and to make sure they feel comfortable with interactions. Some signs that they are enjoying the contact include purring, holding their tails upright, nudging you with their head, kneading with their paws, waving their tail gently, pricked ears, and a relaxed posture.

It is equally as important to look for signs that a cat dislikes the stroking or is feeling anxious. Some indicators of this include remaining passive, a lack of purring or nudging, turning their head away from you, rippling of the skin, exaggerated blinking, batting you away with their paw, scratching, ear flattening, and a thrashing tail.

Often, you will see positive signs that show the cat is happy when you first start stroking them. However, their mood can quickly change, and they may tire of the petting. Therefore, you need to continue observing their body language to identify when the cat has had enough. Otherwise, you may cause the cat stress, and this may prevent them from initiating contact in the future.

Vets say where you stroke the cats is also important. Generally, most cats enjoy being stroked in the areas where they have facial glands. These glands are located under their chin, around their cheeks, and at the base of the ears. Some cats don’t mind having their back stroked, while others hate this.

Some areas to avoid include the base of the tail and the tummy as most cats do not like being stroked in these areas.

Overall, experts say that you should adopt a less is more approach to petting your cat as this is an approach that is preferred by most cats. Only stroke them if they approach you first for stroking, and always observe their body language for cues regarding when they have had enough. Stroke them in the areas around their facial glands and avoid stroking their tummy and tail.

If you follow these tips that are supported by science, then you are more likely to have positive interactions with your cat as it will increase the likelihood of them enjoying being stroked. This is beneficial for both you and your cat.

The Science Behind Stroking Your Cat
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