You know it is time to give your cat his daily dose of belly rubs when he plops himself on your lap. Never does a day go by when he solicits belly rubs from you as if it were your obligation.
Why your cat loves belly rubs
When your cat offers his tummy for a good rubbing, it can mean one of four things: he wants to play with you, he is showing his trust, belly rubs feel good to him, or he is just asking you to help him scratch an itch.
If your cat likes getting his belly stroked and rubbed, consider yourself lucky. Not all cats like getting their bellies rubbed. In fact, most cats will show aggression to their humans at the mere hint of a stomach rub.
But why does yours fully embrace the idea of belly rubs?
Your cat is in a playful mood
For wild and domestic cats, playtime is critical for the development of their hunting skills.
When your pet exposes his belly, it does not necessarily mean that he is being submissive. Sometimes, coaxing you to rub his belly means that he wants to play with you and practice his hunting skills.
This type of belly rub is typically accompanied by grabbing and playful bites. In the wild, lying on his back is a wild cat’s last resort for defense. Although his most vulnerable parts are exposed, it also sends a signal to his opponent that he will use every tool that is available to him, from his teeth to his claws.
Belly rubs feel good for your cat
Like in people, cats have certain body parts that feel good when touched. In a cat, these parts include the chin, the base of the tail, and the stomach.
But be forewarned, a belly rub can turn from a moment of pleasure to a painful experience for humans. Some cats tolerate or even enjoy getting their bellies scratched and rubbed by their people but only up to a certain point.
While rubbing your cat’s belly, you should always be aware of his body language. Your cat will tell you that he has had enough when he moves his ear behind his head, flashes his chompers, or stops purring altogether.
When you see any of these signs, stop rubbing your cat’s stomach. Otherwise, you risk getting bit and scratched.
Your cat shows his trust
Although cats are capable predators, their small size also makes them prey for larger animals. As such, cats have evolved to be wary around other animals, including their humans.
If your cat exposes his belly and allows you to rub it, your cat is paying you a huge compliment. It simply means that he trusts you and he feels safe enough to put himself in a vulnerable position.
Your cat is itchy
Some parts of your cat’s body are simply difficult to reach and scratch. If your pet has been dealing with an itch due to insect bites, allergies, or even ringworm, he will appreciate any help to relieve himself of an itch.
While you are scratching your pet’s belly, check for any symptoms or signs of a larger issue that merits the immediate attention of your vet.
Why some cats hate belly rubs
Not all cats embrace the idea of getting their bellies rubbed. In fact, most cats will get angry and aggressive if you attempt to scratch their stomachs.
The main reason behind that is that felines instinctively know that the belly is one of their most vulnerable body parts. The stomach houses most of the vital organs. And one deep scratch or bite can mean a serious injury or death. If your cat does not warm up to the idea of getting a belly rub, it just means that he is protecting himself.
Some cats may tolerate pets on different body parts, except for their stomachs. Among the parts of the body that your cat might like getting scratched are his chin, neck, back, and head. If your cat likes getting scratched, he will purr and press his body to your hand.
If your cat stretches his body and exposes his tummy, it does not mean that he is inviting you to rub his belly. It might just mean that he feels safe and comfortable, especially if he is doing this in one of his favorite spots at home.
If you attempt to give your cat a belly scratch, you may end up facing your pet’s sharpest body parts.
Is it possible to train your cat to like belly rubs?
Whether you have just brought home a kitten or your cat has lived with you for years, it is possible for you to train him to like, or at least tolerate belly rubs.
Training your cat to allow you to touch his body, including his paws and belly, can be beneficial for both of you. Touching and inspecting your cat’s body will help you see potential problems before any of these spiral out of control.
One important thing to remember in training your cat to tolerate belly rubs is you need to ease into it slowly. And the best way to do that is to pair belly rubs with something your furry little pal already enjoys.
For example, if your cat likes getting pets on his head, you should begin his training with exactly that: scratch his head and then add a couple of belly rubs. For each session, add a few more belly rubs but keep a watchful eye on your cat’s body language.
Some cats are highly motivated by food and treats. And if you have such a cat, you can give your pet treats to help him form a positive association with belly rubs.
Over time, with repetition, persistence, and lots of patience, your cat will soon enjoy getting belly rubs from you.
Not all cats enjoy belly rubs
Whatever may be the reason for your cat enjoying belly rubs, consider yourself lucky. Not all cats enjoy the pleasures of getting belly rubs.
To a large degree, that indicates that your pet trusts you. Cats are cautious creatures and do not readily submit themselves for tummy scratches. And naturally so, considering that their bellies are one of their most vulnerable body parts.
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