Why do cats attack when you rub their bellies?

Why do cats attack when you rub their bellies

Many cats will attack when you rub its belly because the belly is a sensitive spot. When the belly is exposed a potential preditor can harm the vital organs such as the heart. Plus some cats are ticklish!

Why do cats get mad when you touch their belly?

You know that feeling when you’re chilling and cuddling with your cat one afternoon.  You two are having a wonderful time, then suddenly, they roll over and present their belly to you as if asking for a belly rub?  You know what the legends say – a cat’s belly feels like heaven, and you know it does.  So, you reach over to try and pet it. 

You’ve fallen into their trap.  Your hands are now scratched and bitten.  It’s honestly very confusing and painful – physically and emotionally.

Why do they do this?  Is your cat just some meanie who wants to hurt you and your feelings?  Maybe, but probably not.

Just like dogs, when around people they know and feel safe around, cats roll over to expose their stomachs.  It’s their way of saying “I trust you.”  When a cat shows you’re their belly, consider it high praise – because it is. 

Bellies are sensitive

Cat’s bellies – which include their sides and their chest area, are the most sensitive and most vulnerable part of their bodies.   This is where most of their vital organs are.  Their bellies also help them keep cool in hot summer days by loafing on your cold kitchen tiles.  For your expectant mama cats, you might be amazed to know that she has as many as 10 nipples in her belly – each one of them important to make sure all of her kittens will be well fed and happy when they’re born.

This is why, for most cats, their bellies are off limits.  It’s understandable why they’re so overprotective of this specific part of their bodies.

Sometimes, cats actually do expose their bellies as a defensive move. This is, as you must know well by now, a great way for them to use, not only all of their claws, but also their teeth.

It’s also to note that not all cats feel this way.  Some cats actually don’t mind getting the occasional belly rub.  Yes, there are cats like this out there somewhere. Cats are very individualistic. 

If your cat doesn’t want to play, tough luck if you do because you will be ignored.  If you cat doesn’t want to cuddle – you’ll find out why they say cats are liquid – they will escape your grasp at their first chance.

There are cats who will indulge their owners a bit of light belly rubbing – up to a certain point.  If your cat is initially not one of these cats, you can actually try to train them into enjoying belly rubs with something they enjoy. 

You can pair a bit of belly rubbing with some scratches that they do enjoy – like on their chin.  Or, if your cat is food motivated, you can give them treats as you give them a belly rub.

At the end of the day, please know that not all cats, no matter how hard you try, will like the belly attention you so want to give them. 

What’s most important in you and your cats relationship is to maintain the trust that led them to open up their bellies to you in the first place.

Are there other off-limits spots on my cat’s body?

This isn’t true for all cats, but most cats will not appreciate it when you touch them on their paws as it is another hypersensitive part of their body – just like their bellies, on their armpits or the area under their legs, the back of their legs, the bottom half of their back when they’re in pain, at the base of their tail, and on their genital area.

It’s also good to know that how you touch your cat matters.  Some cats don’t like it when you are very forceful when you pet them as this can cause them to be overly stimulated which will cause them to leave the petting session.  What’s most important is that you don’t stroke them against the natural flow of their fur.

Where should I pet my cat instead?

There are many alternative places where you can pet your cat safely.  These areas will bring satisfaction to you and your cat:

  • On their cheeks, behind their whiskers.  This place has a high concentration of scent glands.  Cats like spreading their scent to those they “own”, so they will appreciate it if you stimulate this area.
  • Under their chin.  Some cats love under the chin scratches so much they’ll actually drool.  Give it a try sometime, sans the nails.
  • On their forehead, in between their eyes.  Some cats will actually pet you before you pet them by bunting.  Bunting is when they bump their heads against you.  When this happens, take them up on their offer!

Why do some cats like belly rubs?

For most cats, belly rubs will trigger an automatic defensive reaction.  This is true for both cats and kittens.  For others, it won’t faze them a single bit.  If you have a cat who does like belly rubs, count yourself lucky and enjoy it.  Just keep an eye out for when they change their mind.  If they start nibbling your hand, that’s when you should stop.

Different cats require different strokes.  When your cat likes, and trusts you, you will be greeted with a belly.  It’s not an invitation for a belly rub though.  Most cats won’t appreciate a belly rub like a dog would because cats are extra protective over the most vital part of their bodies.  So, when your cat shows you a sign of their trust, don’t break it.

Why do cats attack when you rub their bellies

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