24th April 2024

How to Properly Stroke a Cat Based on Science

Cats have a reputation for being cold, mysterious creatures. Even cat parents themselves might agree with this. In fact, many people cite this as the reason why they prefer dogs. But this isn’t a competition. Both cats and dogs have proven to be valuable companions over thousands of years. You just have to learn how to interact with cats, and that has a lot to do with how you stroke them.

Given that your cat seems content to sit by the window and watch the world go by, it can be difficult to resist yourself from initiating the interaction. But science tells us that letting your cat act first can be more rewarding.

Understanding your cat’s ancestry

It’s worth taking a step back into the domestic cat’s ancestry. A descendant of the African wildcat, domestic cats haven’t deviated much from its roots. The African wildcat was used for pest control in ancient times. Other than that, they barely had any interaction with humans. This explains why cats still display a solitary personality even if they’ve been domesticated for 4,000 years.

The good news is that cats continue to evolve. You probably know how cute it is when they jump in bed with you, seemingly wanting a cuddle. Be careful with the cues they show, however, as the human instinct to touch or stroke what we find cute could contradict the way in which cats want to be petted.

The right way to stroke your cat

As noted earlier, giving your cat the freedom to initiate human interaction proves to be the key to success. Cats still struggle to respond to social cues, but humans struggle just as much in terms of understanding whether cats really want to be touched, stroked, or cuddled.

The less is more concept applies here. As a general rule, when your cat suddenly decides to go up to you, sit by your side, or jump up in bed with you, it tells you it’s time for some petting. Start with a few gentle strokes around the cheeks, under the chin, and on the base of their ears. Most cats love it when they’re petted around their facial glands. Be careful when trying to stroke their tummy since that’s often a sensitive area for them.

You should also take the time to observe your cat’s behaviour in general. You may notice that your cat shows affection right after munching on some dry cat food from Barking Heads. Your cat might also love some petting soon after waking up from a long nap. These patterns and behaviours should be taken note of by all cat owners, as they can help a lot in establishing a better human-cat relationship.

And when things don’t seem to go right, just practice a little self-restraint. Don’t force it. The most common signs that your cat wants you to stop include turning their head away from you, thrashing tail, grooming rapidly, ears rotating backwards, and biting or swiping your hands.

Summing it up

Clearly, there’s a science involved in stroking your cat. You’d want to learn and respect their boundaries, even if it requires you to resist throwing your hands all over their cuteness.