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This is why you’re petting your cat wrong

 by yunus on 13 Feb 2018 |
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All cat owners have had the jarring experience of lavishing their feline friends with affection only to receive an abrupt scratch or bite in return. According to a study publish in Applied Animal Behavior Science, this might be for good reason. The researchers observed more than fifty cats and, it turns out, felines have general preferences for where they do and don’t like to be touched.
 
Cats are not close-contact animals by nature. Affectionate touch is a learned behavior for our pets and each individual has a different threshold for petting. Bearing that in mind, researchers identified some broad rules on where you should and should not pet your cat. For example, anyone who’s given their cat a rub on the chin has likely been met with a warm purr. It turns out, that makes sense. Cats have scent glands near their cheeks that release pheromones—chemical signals used to communicate with other members of the species. When your pet rubs his face against you or your furniture, he’s marking it with these feel-good chemicals, and he feels that same comfort when you rub him along his cheeks, chin and head.
 
According to the study, a pat along the torso is a close second to rub on the head— although the researchers did not test what happened when they touched a cat’s stomach. The team found one no-go zone, however, that may surprise some cat lovers: the tail. Scientists believe the base of a cat’s tail may be some sort of erogenous zone that gets over stimulated when it’s touched. This can lead to petting-induced aggression, which is your cat’s way of telling you to back off when he’s had too much affection. No matter what part of his body you’re petting, however, if your cat is twitching his tail or skin, taking a defensive stance, flattening his ears, or growling, it’s a sign to back off and leave him alone.
 
Different cats have different thresholds for affection and your pet’s unique preferences might surprise you. By watching his body language during cuddles and keeping in mind that most cats prefer to be stroked along the head, you can learn your cat’s preferences and strengthen the bond you share—while avoiding being maimed.

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