What do cat cuddles mean? Should they be similar to human cuddles? Remember there are two sentient beings involved in the cat cuddle; you and your cat and physically they are very different. Both have got to be satisfied and take benefit from it. The key player is your cat. They decide how it should be done but the human can encourage and create routines which are understood by domestic cats. These routines can lead to a cuddle.
For instance, my cat was just sleeping on his cat condo by the window. He had been there for quite a long time. I was in bed and I called him over. He decided to respond positively and came over onto my lap for a cuddle. I let him settle down in his own time and he is now lying on my lap curled up. He’s warming me up and I am warming him up. We are in close contact and I can give him a bit of petting and he can lick my hand in return. All is well with the world. I encouraged him to come over but he decided how he wanted to cuddle.
Cuddling is about contact. It’s about being in very close contact which is nurturing behaviour. It is a behaviour that both cat and person needs and welcomes. People need it because they are social creatures. In fact humans are very social and therefore they need to be in contact with other creatures, normally other humans but for many millions of people their domestic cat is a good or better substitute.
The domestic cat is no longer a solitary creature. They are often very much socialised to humans and other pets and as such they fit in well. It is very clear to me that cats love direct physical contact with their ‘friends’ who might be another cat, a dog or a person. They frequently reach out with their foreleg to touch one of them. Or they’ll simply lie next to or on top of them. Contact is a nurturing process. Each party to the process obtains emotional benefits. It is warming emotionally. It makes both feel better. For humans it slows us down and often our cats are purring at the same time so we can benefit from the purring sound as well.
For humans, cuddling often begins with picking up a cat. A cat owner wants a cuddle so they pick up their cat to get it. That’s okay but it’s imposing human behaviour on a domestic cat and they might not want a cuddle at that moment. Normally you’d ask or receive an indication that a human would like a cuddle. We should apply that method to cats as well. And of, course, you got to be careful with how you pick up a cat. The cat should be fully supported.
I don’t think it is wise to cuddle a cat like a baby; holding them in your arms with their belly facing upwards. This is not a great position for a cat although some will tolerate it because they love their human companion and they are used to it.
Perhaps the best scenario for both parties to benefit from a cat cuddle is when the person is sitting down or sitting up in bed or indeed lying down in bed. If the person is wearing old, smelly clothes, so much the better. Beds are a particular favourite for domestic cats because they are full of the scent of the person who slept in it. The heat generated from people helps their scent to permeate into the duvet cover and sheets. This is what cats like. They want to be immersed in it. For a cat it is an added benefit to being cuddled in bed.
I wear an old smelly dressing gown when I’m inside the home. Of course my cat loves it and to be honest I wear it for him more than for me. It encourages him to curl up on my lap while I am watching television.
Normally, the cat cuddle takes place in the form of a cat sitting on a person’s lap or chest. It’s okay to pick up your cat for a cuddle, of course it is. You’ve got the support them really nicely and you might gently press your cheek against theirs in a classic human-to-human style cuddle. However, I think this is not the sort of cuddle a cat will normally like. It is a human action, designed for people so a cat might reject it or once again tolerate it. If a cat does tolerate it, it should not be for a long time.
The opening paragraph I think sums it up for me. When you cuddle your cat, your cat takes the lead and you do it in a way which suits him or her.