Cats Hate Belly Rubs—and Here’s Why

Cats may be strange, but we still love them all the same. There are plenty of mysteries surrounding their behavior, from picky eating to nighttime “zoomies.” But why do some felines hate belly rubs?

The hair follicles on your kitty’s belly and tail are hypersensitive to touch. Therefore, petting those areas can be overstimulating.

“Cats prefer to be pet and scratched on the head, specifically under the cheeks and chin,” says Lena Provoost, an animal behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Rubbing their faces against other cats “allows them to mix their scent together, ultimately culminating in a ‘colony scent’ in order for them to recognize who belongs in their group. That’s why they greet us in the same way!

Overall, the best option is to read your cat’s body language. According to Debra Zoran, an internal medicine specialist at Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, are usually “not afraid to tell us what they prefer.”

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