Navigating the Fickle Feline: Your Guide to Cuddling Cats According to Experts

Cat lovers often fantasize about endless snuggles with their feline friends, but the reality often defies these dreams. Unlike dogs, who live to please their humans, cats march to the beat of their own drum.

Some actively avoid human contact, while others could be open to cuddling—you just need to unlock the right approach.


The Golden Rule: Let Cats Make the First Move

Dr. Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior expert at Rover, emphasizes the importance of allowing your cat to initiate interactions.

Cats are more receptive to affection when they’re the ones setting the pace. Unlike forced interactions, when a cat approaches you, the cuddle session is likely to be longer and more enjoyable for both parties.


The Petting Map: Where to Touch

Wondering why your cat hisses or bites during cuddle time? You might not be petting them in their preferred spots.

According to Delgado, stick to the cheeks, chin, and forehead for the best response. Avoid the base of the tail, paws, and especially the belly, as these areas can be overstimulating for the cat.


The Don’ts of Cat Cuddling

If you want to maintain a happy household, respect your cat’s boundaries. Forcing a cuddle session will only backfire, leading to a strained relationship. Delgado also warns against holding a cat “like a baby,” as it triggers a cat’s “righting reflex,” compelling them to squirm and escape your grip.


Reading the Signs: When Your Cat Needs Space

Cats can’t speak, but their body language speaks volumes. Watch for signals like crouching, tail flicking, and dilated pupils to know when your cat is stressed or simply not in the mood for cuddles.


Alternatives to Cuddling: Other Ways to Show Love

If cuddles aren’t on the cards, there are plenty of other ways to bond with your cat. From simple strokes to playtime sessions, you can create meaningful moments that both you and your cat will cherish.


Wrapping Up: It’s a Two-Way Street

Understanding your cat’s cuddling preferences is a two-way street that enriches the relationship between pet and owner. By paying attention to body language and respecting boundaries, you’re well on your way to creating a happier, cuddlier environment.

So how does your cat like to be cuddled, or are they part of the ‘no-touch’ brigade? Share your experiences below.



  • Amanda Wheatley

    Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..) Why Trust ShelterAPet? At ShelterAPet, our collective is composed of writers, veterinarians, and seasoned animal trainers with a deep passion for pets. Our team of esteemed professionals delves into extensive research to deliver trustworthy insights on a broad spectrum of pet-related subjects. We anchor our evaluations on direct customer experiences, meticulous testing, and comprehensive scrutiny. Our commitment is to uphold transparency and integrity for our cherished community of pet aficionados and prospective pet parents.