You love your cat and want to show her affection! However, doing so properly requires an understanding of unique feline behaviors and each individual cat’s preferences.

Below are some tips on how to show your feline friend affection in a way so you both benefit from the experience.

How to Show Your Cat Affection

Let Her Approach You

Many cats will nuzzle or rub up against you, making it clear they want an embrace or to be petted. They may brush their face against yours, for example. In some cats, it may be more challenging to understand if they want affection.

Watch Out for Signs She is Stressed by the Interaction

These signs can include a tense body, dilated pupils, ears back, or worse yet, hissing or crying out.

Do Not Force Cats to be Pet

Cats have limits as we all do, and they can become aroused if you pet them for too long. Sometimes giving her space and providing her favorite toy and a good play session (when calm), are better options and show your affection just as well.

Picking Your Cat Up

If your cat is comfortable with being picked up, make sure you do so with both hands, securing her back legs and behind. Be sure to have her as close to your body as possible so she feels safe and is not dangling in the air.

  • Avoid holding her with a tight grip since this will cause anxiety.
  • Never lift her by the scruff. It could be painful for them.

How to Pet Your Cat

Most cats prefer to be petted on the head and neck and may get upset when touched elsewhere. Most cats prefer not to have their feet touched.

Other Things to Watch Out for:
Watch for the signs mentioned above that your feline friend is done with the petting experience. If it goes on too long, they will often nip or claw at you to indicate they have had enough. Cats don’t interact the way we do – long dinners or coffee conversations – they prefer short interactions that occur more often.

If your cat rubs up against you or an object nearby, licks your arm or leg or curls up beside you, this is the time for a good petting session.

Follow these tips and watch your cat purr with affection for you!

Contributed by Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, MS, ABVP (Feline)