And then there’s Abby, our cat who died a few years ago. She did not hesitate to protest the attempts of affection by howling, wiggling and demonstrating her best Sumo escape moves. Once loose, she would hiss, abruptly turn from the offending human and walk away with as much dignity as she could muster. It was quite the performance.
We learned from Abby that if we wanted to cuddle with our next feline we needed to start early. So, when Pip joined us as a kitten, we started picking him up, giving him gentle hugs and scratching behind his ears the moment he left the cat carrier.
If Pip started to squirm, we immediately stopped hugging him.
From the first day we brought him home, the cat has been jumping into my lap. Abby did, too, with one glaring difference: That sassy feline wanted me to stay put. If I tried to roll into the kitchen, she hissed and tried to swat my arms to get me to stop pushing my wheelchair.
With Pip, right from the start, if I needed to go get something, he went along, curled up in my lap.
Our “affection investment” has resulted in a fairly affectionate cat. The Pipster loves to be scratched behind the ears, under the chin and at the base of his tail. He sits on my lap as I roll around the house. Ed scoops him up and holds him gently for short periods. The feline head butts us often, rubs us to mark his territory daily and sleeps in my knees nightly.
Experts say the approach you take may determine the response you get.
“If you swoop in like a giant predator, catch them off guard, and hoist them to the ceiling, that probably isn’t going to go over well,” Dr. Sandra Mitchell, a veterinarian, says on petmed.com.
“However, if you work up to it slowly, starting with some face scratches, then body rubs, your cat may let you hug them.”
Watch your cat’s body language. Mitchell says cats that like to be hugged tend to lean in, purr, headbutt you and sometimes drool. Abby purred when she liked the attention we were giving her. Pip is the king of head butts. Neither drooled.
Cats that don’t want to be hugged, at a particular time or ever, will try to flee, flatten their ears, push you away, swish their tails or growl. Abby swished her tail. Pip flees.
The reality is as much as I might want to hug my tuxedo feline, Pip may not be all that interested and reluctantly, I have to let him go and Mitchell suggests, “be prepared to beg for forgiveness.”
So if you’re celebrating the Hug Your Cat Day holiday, bring a lint brush. If your fluffy feline is anything like Pip, you’re going to need it.
WHERE MOST CATS LIKE HUMAN TOUCH
- Sides of the face
- Top of the head
- Under the chin
- Along the sides of the body
- On the shoulders
- Along the back towards the tail