Why a cat doesn’t like being petted: here are 4 reasons

Hangai Lilla

2023. November 25 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Especially novice cat owners worry when they find that their pet resists being touched. A healthy human-cat bond should include some physical interaction, but that doesn't mean the cat always craves petting. Treating it like a small dog can be problematic in several ways, since the basic personality traits of the two animals are completely different.


Even experienced cat owners can make the mistake of imposing their love on their pet under any circumstances, when they feel it is right. Our article will help you map out why your cat probably doesn’t like being petted. We also give you some tips to prevent how you can improve the situation, so not only will you be happier, but your bond will also be strengthened. And of course your kitty’s well-being will be guaranteed.

Do cats even enjoy being touched?

While dogs are taught to be obedient from a young age, most of us find cats so beautiful and unique that they are completely independent. We love that they determine most of the rules for their care and coexistence. This is also true for physical contact.

For the above reasons, we need to know who’s boss. The cat marks us as well as various objects in our home. It does this by rubbing its head and other body parts against us or the objects in question, thus expressing what belongs to its territory. According to a popular axiom, “dogs have owners, cats have staff.”

Of course, how much physical contact the animal requires depends largely on its personality, not just on the cats’ general character. You can tell very easily what kind of mood they are in based on their body language. If the kitty acts as if it does not enjoy being stroked, you can be sure that it is not just playing!

What could be the reason?

1. You touch it in the wrong place

It could easily be that your pet doesn’t have a problem with physical contact, you’re just petting it in the wrong place. They tolerate it more easily and even enjoy it if you scratch or caress their neck, the area under their chin, behind their ears or the base of their tail.

When they are immersed in pleasure, they tend to show their bellies. But they don’t do this usually so that you can caress them there! This is a very sensitive area, so it’s more just to let you know that they feel comfortable and safe in your company.

2. Trauma is still with it

Although we strongly recommend that you adopt, unfortunately it may happen that your chosen one still carries the traces of the trauma it suffered. This could also be due to abuse, abandonment or early separation. If your cat is aggressive towards any human interaction, a professional will likely be able to help with the problem. If you see that it is simply shy, aloof and withdrawn, give it time. Wait for it to approach you and move very slowly. The main thing is not to force anything on it.

3. It is in pain

If it suddenly refuse physical contact from one moment to the next, it is worth considering that your pet is suffering from pain. Cats are masters of hiding their pain, so we always advise you to be very careful about this topic.

It can also be an infection, a bump, a burn, or a side effect of medication. If you suspect any injury, whether there are visible signs or not, be sure to visit the vet.

4. Change in personality

Just as our tastes and needs can change over time, so can cats, and that’s okay. But it is also possible that the changes in your household cause the transformation in it. Have you recently moved, perhaps the children do not yet know the limits of the animal? If it’s an outdoor kitty, it may also have had a fight with a rival cat in the neighborhood, and that’s bruised its ego a bit.

Hormones may play a role in young animals, while dementia may play a role in older individuals.

What can you do?

If you have eliminated all kinds of distractions at home and have given your pet enough time to get used to the new conditions, you have already taken a huge step towards calming it down and requiring more physical contact.

It is important that you create a routine for it that means safety. Regular feeding and combing, food with adequate nutritional content and spotless conditions for toileting all help a lot to maintain your cat’s well-being.

If you wait patiently and let it approach you and you stroke it in the right places and you still encounter resistance, you should definitely visit the vet. A healthy and calm cat is a happy cat. And a happy kitty will most likely enjoy being petted just as much as you do.

cat care cat health cat human relationship cat personality happy cat health problem Life why

Related articles

More articles