With dogs, you can pretty much pet them anywhere and they will love you to bit for the strokes and pets. When it comes to cats, it is a whole different story altogether.
Cats love getting pets too but only in places where they give you permission to.
Ask most cat owners where is one place where you should definitely tread with caution and the answer will be a unanimous “cat’s belly.”
But why is a cat’s belly such a sensitive area for cats?
Is it because it makes them feel very ticklish?
There’s actually a valid reason for this.
Stay with me.
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 tummy rubs.
This doesn’t just apply to our indoor domesticated cats. I know of a neighbourhood stray that is can’t get enough belly rubs. That cute like tabby love belly rubs and will keep on following you till you give her a few minutes of your time.
Such a cutie.
Let’s go a little deeper into the reason.
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 make them feel very good.
I know of cats that love belly rubs and my cat is also one of them. He like walking up to me and flopping at my feet to expose his belly.
No prizes for guessing what he is asking for.
Your Cat Trusts You
Cats are very cautious animals and the slightest sense of danger can put them on edge. This is because in the wild, small cats aren’t always the apex predators and need to be careful.
To have a cat come over and show you its belly to get attention and affection is a great sign of trust.
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 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.
So when you see your cat running all around the house and then stopping to show its belly, it might be a 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.
What Percentage Of Cats Like Belly Rubs?
There are no actual studies conducted on the percentage of cats that enjoy a good belly rub. But based on my experience with numerous cats and well as conversations with cat parents, I would say it is a 50/50 split.
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.
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 that 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.
The same theory applies to us humans. I’ve read that one of the worst places to get injured is the stomach as it can result in massive internal bleeding and lots of pain.
I shudder just by thinking about it.
Furthermore, the area on the cat’s belly and tail are more sensitive compared to other parts of the body. Excess petting or stroking to this area can cause discomfort to your cat.
The Primodial 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.
- This flab of skin acts as an extra layer of protection for the cat’s vital organs. When cats get into fights with other cats, they have a tendency to grab and bunny kick with their strong hind legs which can cause serious damage using their sharp claws
- The extra skin lets the cat stretch out more when they run and jump. Take a look at a cat moving in slow motion and you’ll notice that they can really extend their bodies.
- It helps cats store extra fat around that area as a backup meal in case they are not able to find their next meal.
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 is giving 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
- They will come near to you and lie on their backs to expose their bellies
- They should start to purr as you are rubbing their bellies
- The cat’s eyes will most likely be closed, body relaxed and tail moving slowly from side to side.
Signs Of Cats That Don’t Like Belly Rubs
- They will start to hiss or meow loudly when you touch the belly
- They won’t hesitate to get up and move away
- The tail will be thumping aggressively on the floor as a warning sign
- They will scratch or even bite you
A few points to note when it comes to rubbing a cat’s belly is not to do it on cats that you are not familiar with.
Having a cat that you have never seen before expose its belly to you is not an invitation for a belly rub.
Where Do Cats Liked To Be Touched?
There are a couple of areas on a cat that you can feel safe touching. Cats like to be stroked behind the eats, 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. But 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 but stroking it in the more popular areas. That should get your cat purring in no time.