As cat owners, we can all agree that the temptation to resist rubbing a cat’s belly is too hard to ignore. Especially when your cat saunters up to you, rolls over, and exposes its belly, begging for a rub.
However, not all cats enjoy this endearing gesture and many will not hesitate to use their teeth and claws to let you know.
Cats love getting pets too but only in places where they give you permission to.
But are there cats that really enjoy having their bellies rubbed?
Most cats are able to tolerate some amount of belly rubs if they are comfortable with you. But cats that really enjoy this gesture are more likely the exception than the norm. To prevent yourself from getting hurt, keep an eye on the cat’s body language for a change in mood.
In this article, we will explore the intricacies of belly rubbing when it comes to cats and how you can ensure that your hand survives.
Why Do Some Cats Like Belly Rubs?
Cats have unique personalities there are some cats that actually enjoy belly rubs. These are cats that trust you and enjoy human contact.
They have no issues when it comes to belly rubs and you can find them purring and starting to doze off when getting their tummies rubbed.
Such cats are usually very mild-tempered and/or well-socialized.
Here are some reasons why cats do enjoy having their belly rubbed.
It Feels Good For The Cat
Cats, like humans, have areas where they enjoy being touched. And for some cats, it could be that the sensation of getting belly rubs makes them feel very good.
I have met many cats that love belly rubs and my cat is also one of them.
He likes standing on both of my feet and then dramatically flop over to expose his soft belly while giving me that “Come on, get to work on my belly” look.
Our cats can be very demanding at times.
Your Cat Trusts You
Cats are very cautious animals and the slightest sense of danger can put them on edge.
In the wild, cats aren’t always the apex predators and need to be careful of other more dangerous animals.
To have a cat come over and show you its belly to get attention and affection is a great sign of trust on its part.
It is quite a compliment and an honor when a cat allows you access to its belly.
Your Cat Wants To Play
Cats can be rather playful creatures and do enjoy a certain amount of playtime daily.
Playtime is good for cats as it allows them to get some exercise and work on their hunting instincts.
This applies to both wild and domestic cats that can engage in play fighting with another cat just for the fun of it.
When you see your cat running all around the house and then stopping to show its belly, it might signal that it wants fewer belly rubs and more quality playtime with you.
There are some cat breeds like the Siamese and Bengal that requires a lot of attention and quality time with their owners.
Leaving these cats alone at home for long hours can make them depressed.
Personality Of Certain Breeds
There are certain cat breeds that tend to be more friendly and accepting of having belly rubs.
These cat breeds are usually Maine Coons, Ragdolls, Siamese and Sphynx.
It is very possible to have a short-haired domestic tabby that loves belly rubs but your stand a better chance with one of the above breeds.
The Maine Coon is known as the gentle giant of the cat world while Siamese cats crave attention and affection from their owners.
Scratching An Itch
Cats do get the occasional itch on their bellies that they need to be scratched as well.
If the cat is too fat or has some mobility issues, it might have trouble getting to that spot on its tummy easily.
Using you as a human scratcher can help relief the itch.
If your cat has been very willing to have its belly rubbed of late, make sure to inspect that area for any signs of infection or infestation.
What Percentage Of Cats Like Belly Rubs?
There are no actual studies conducted on the percentage of cats that enjoy a good belly rub.
Most domesticated cats can and will tolerate belly rubs to a certain extent. This can range from a few seconds to a few minutes.
That doesn’t mean that they enjoy being rubbed on the belly though.
This is due to the trust and bond that they have with their owners.
If you have a cat that can take belly rubs like a champion, you’re one lucky cat parent.
But if we going to get statistical about this, I can confidently say that more than 50% of cats out there are not fans of having their bellies touched.
Why Do Cats Hate Belly Rubs?
As mentioned earlier, there’s a valid reason why most cats are not a fan of belly rubs. This is because the belly is a very vulnerable spot for any living thing.
It contains and protects many vital organs like the liver and kidneys.
Unlike the chest and midsection of the cat which is protected by the rib cage, the cat’s belly is soft and not well protected.
Any injury to that area can prove to be fatal, if not extremely painful for the cat.
One of the worst places to get injured is the stomach as it can result in massive internal bleeding and lots of pain.
In contrast to dogs, who display submission when rolling on their backs, cats may actually be in attack mode.
When belly up, a cat can effectively use all four sets of claws and teeth to defend itself.
Furthermore, the area on the cat’s belly and tail is more sensitive compared to other parts of the body.
Excess petting or stroking of this area can cause discomfort to your cat.
The Primordial Pouch
If you look at your cat’s belly area when it is standing, you’ll notice this slightly saggy flap of skin that’s overhanging your cat’s belly.
This is called the primordial pouch and it serves a few functions for the cat.
The flab of skin protects a cat’s vital organs during fights, allows greater stretching during movement, and stores extra fat as a backup energy source.
The Cat Belly Rub Trap
Have there been occasions when you have seen your cat lying on the floor with its soft, fluffy and chubby belly fully exposed?
It looks very much like an invitation to give your cat a belly rub.
But the second you laid hands on that soft belly, your cat grabbed your arm and gave you a hard enough bite to feel pain.
You are now an official member of the ‘Cat Belly Rub Trap’ club.
It is a cat’s natural instinctive reaction to go into a defensive mode when it feels someone or something touching its belly.
There are times when your cat will be purring away when getting a belly rub and then get irritated with you in a flash.
This is because the prolonged belly rubbing gives your cat a sensory overload making it lash out at you.
The motto of most cats is to scratch or bite first and ask questions later.
Observe Your Cat’s Body Language
One way to know if your cat is a fan or hater of having its belly touched is to observe its body language. There are certain signs that you can look out for to let you know if you should continue or stop.
Signs Of Cats That Like Belly Rubs
- Lie on their backs to expose their bellies near you
- Start to purr as you are rubbing their bellies
- Relax and comfortable body language
Signs Of Cats That Don’t Like Belly Rubs
- Start to hiss or meow loudly when you touch the belly
- Get up and move away
- Aggressive body language like tail thumping
- Scratch and bite you
When it comes to rubbing a cat’s belly, do not do it to cats that you are not familiar with.
Touching the belly of an unfamiliar cat can cause it to lash out at you.
Where Do Cats Like To Be Stroked The Most?
There are a couple of areas on a cat that you can feel safe touching. Cats like to be stroked behind the ears, under the chin and on the top of their heads.
You can’t go wrong with these areas even with a new cat.
There are some cats that even like to be stroked hard on their butt area. It gets them in a trance and they start making funny sounds.
Can I Tain My Cat To Enjoy Belly Rubs?
It can be possible but it also depends on the personality of the cat. The easiest way to do it is when your cat is a kitten.
When they are young, cats are very open to new experiences and their pre-programmed feline instincts have yet to set in.
Make it a point to rub your cat’s stomach on a daily basis and give it some treats for positive association and reinforcement.
If they make any attempt to bite or scratch you, remove your hand gently and try again later.
It can be harder if your cat is older and it also hurts a lot more to get bitten or scratched by an adult cat as compared to a kitten.
However, it is possible to slowly get your cat to enjoy having its belly touched. My cat wasn’t the most affectionate of cats when I first adopted him.
It took a few years before he even let me carry him for a minute or rub his soft tummy without retaliating.
It is not the end of the world if your cat really hates its belly rubbed. Each cat is a unique creature and should be loved for what they are and not what you want them to become.
You can still bond and show love for your cat while stroking it in the more popular areas. That should get your cat purring in no time.