If you ask people whether or not you should hug a cat, it’s likely you’ll get a lot of different answers. That’s because, just like humans, all cats are unique, so everyone will have different experiences to share. In my own three-cat-household, we have one cat who demands cuddles every day, one who should only be picked up in emergencies, and one who is resentful but still young enough that we’re hoping he’ll grow to like it. A cat’s personality plays a huge part in how affectionate they are, so it’s important to get to know a cat before attempting anything that could earn you a few scratches. Here are some tips on when and how to hug a cat.
When to stay away
Unfortunately, the majority of cats don’t enjoy getting picked up and hugged. It makes them feel trapped and like they aren’t in control, which can cause them to panic. It may feel like a waste not to smother that soft, cuddly body in all your love and affection, but it’s important to respect your pet’s boundaries just like you would another person. By doing this, not only will you gain their trust and affection, but you’ll also save yourself from scratches and bite marks.
Some cats will make it abundantly obvious that they don’t like being hugged. This means wiggling to get away, struggling against you, and hissing. Some cats aren’t quite as obvious and will instead tense up and become stiff if held. They may even flatten their ears against their head and flick their tail around. If your cat is clearly not having a good time in the hug, then it’s best to let them down.
When to hug a cat
Anyone who owns a cat will let you know that their furry friend is the one who runs the house. Cats are strong-willed creatures, so they’ll let you know when they’re ready for cuddles. Most of the time this means they’ll be placing themselves in your lap when they want hugs and leaving as soon as they’ve had enough. For those of us with more vocal cats, you might even find them crying at your feet, begging to be picked up. If your cat has a habit of purring, nuzzling into your hugs, and grabbing onto your shoulders to be held closer, then it’s safe to say your cat is perfectly fine with being picked up.
How to hug your cat
Cats hate surprises, so whenever you want to approach them make sure they see you and know you’re coming. Give them a few pets first, that way you can assess what kind of mood they’re in. If they’re purring or leaning into the affection, then you’re safe to pick them up for a hug. You should never squeeze your cat, no matter how tempting it may be, as you could easily hurt their little bodies. Instead, hold them gently but firmly.
Some cats are happy to cuddle for hours, so if they’re purring and nuzzling into the cuddle then feel free to keep going. Still, there are some cats who experience very frequent mood changes and will only allow hugs for short periods of time. Make sure to keep an eye on your cat’s body language, and if at any point they begin to tense up, flatten their ears, or flick their tail, then be ready to put them back down.
Why do some cats like hugs?
Cats like cuddles because it makes them feel safe and warm. When your cat was just a kitten it would spend a lot of time in a snuggle pile with its siblings, so cuddling with you gives them the same good feelings from when they were babies. Our cats also use snuggle time as a way to bond with us. We may see our furry friends as our closest companions, but we can’t forget that we’re their companions too!
Even if your cat isn’t the cuddly type that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Some pets just express their love in different ways, whether that’s giving you slow blinks from across the room or keeping your feet warm at night. There’s been no conclusive evidence on what makes some cats more affectionate than others, but certain breeds such as Ragdoll, Siamese, and Sphynx are more prone to having cuddly personalities. There’s also evidence that how much time a kitten spends around humans can affect their affection levels when they’re an adult, so if you’ve got a furry baby in the house make sure to give them lots of love to keep the cuddles coming in the future.