Men should pet their cats super gently and slowly

Perhaps against instincts men should pet their cats with slow hand and arm movements and gently. This sort of stuff is not mentioned on the internet. As far as I can tell no one searches for information about the specifics of men handling and petting cats.

I am sticking my neck out here. Quite definitely. But do feel the need to mention it. In the past I have mentioned gentleness but this time I also want to refer to slow movements. There are good reasons why I refer to “slow” and “gentle”.

Man and cat
Man and cat. This looks gentle and loving.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cats instinctively respond to fast movements. The tend to stick out their paw and grab it, whatever it is that is moving fast. If it is your hand it’s not a great experience. This natural instinct is related to hunting skills. If after stroking and petting your cat you move your hand away quickly your cat might try and grab it. If you retract your hand very slowly it is far less likely that he will grab it. It is like slow motion cat petting.

As for gentleness, this also avoids a natural, instinctive response from your cat which might result in a scratch. There seems to be a threshold concerning the strength at which a cat owner can pet his cat. Beyond the threshold the cat will take the petting as play and start play fighting. Under the threshold and the cat responds to petting as licking (allogrooming).

Cat owners want to avoid nips and scratches under all circumstances. A lot of cat relinquishments are labelled as “behavioural problems” (of the cat not the human). But in truth the behavioural problem is with the human.

I feel that mens’ natural levels of pressure and speed of movement when petting their cat can be too hard and too fast. THis is because humans are much larger and in general stronger than domestic cats. I am not suggesting that this is always the case; far from it. It is simply that there will be occasions when men stroke and pet their cats in a manner which, depending in the cat, might stimulate a cat response which is unwelcome.




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5 thoughts on “Men should pet their cats super gently and slowly”

  1. Interesting comments on petting here. The topic hasn’t been completely ignored, however. A few years ago, Amy Shojai, who was the contributing writer on Cat Behavior for my About.com website, wrote a related article, titled “Kitty Keep-Away,” describing how cats “solicit” petting: http://cats.about.com/od/amyshojai/a/Understanding-Kitty-Keep-Away.htm

    Michael, feel free to remove the URL if posting it is not allowed here. I will also mention that while cats generally enjoy slow, soft hand movements during petting, such as most women use, some cats like the ruffling up of fur in reverse strokes which men sometimes use during play. Jeff and Monty seem to enjoy this method, as did my husband with our Bubba.

    However, some cats will react with “petting aggression,” and Amy wrote an article covering that topic also. My hands are often covered with Bandaids protecting cat scratches, received as “thanks” for my loving pets. 🙁

    Reply
    • Thanks Franny. The link is fine. This short note that I wrote is based on first hand experience of living with a “tamed” feral cat 😉 Perhaps he (my cat) is more sensitive to play and more keenly tuned to hunting which makes the need to handle him as described all the more important. I do feel though that gentle handling and slow movements should be the default cat petting style. Although as Ruth tells us it depends on the cat. Some cats like to be vacuumed for heavens sake 😉

      Reply
  2. You are spot on Michael. I thought I came up with this on my own too, so I guess great minds think alike. Cat LOVE to be touched slow and gently. You can almost put them into a trance. A soft voice too. This is why cats don’t particularly favor little kids, unless the child is coached to be gentle and slow, and to not prolong it. I change it up a lot to find what each likes, and it comes down to this. I have also found that this very important and powerful means of communing with them is no where to be found but here, except Pamela Merritt does “touch” on it, pun intended. I also put it out there as a topic for discussion when I had my study group on Facebook. Still, great minds think alike.

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  3. When Jeff roughs up Monty’s fur, rubbing him both ways, quite vigorously, then Monty responds with a super loud purr every time. Sometimes he pets him gently and slowly. Those two have their own bond and Monty definitely seems to prefer Jeff over me. Jeff says he does not love Monty but as Monty sits on Jeff in bed Jeff starts to sweat because of the added heat of that furry little body, yet he never moves Monty.

    Reply
    • Love your comment. It sort of goes against my theory. Perhaps it is a refinement on my theory. Some cats do really like that reverse stroke roughing up the fur.

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