The Daily Mail has an amusing photo gallery of cats looking annoyed as their human servants pull them in for hugs.
Some of the cats have unmistakably disgusted looks on their faces, some use their paws to push their people away, and a few even sink their teeth into their humans when the latter prove themselves oblivious to every other form of communication.
I’d like to think most of the people pictured aren’t experienced caretakers, because while every cat is different, as a general rule cats aren’t fond of hugs. That should be apparent almost immediately to anyone who bonds with a cat.
Why? Because cats don’t like feeling restricted, and to them, a hug is an animal 10 to 25 times their weight manhandling them and preventing them from leaving under their own power.
Cats aren’t comfortable with that for the same reason they don’t like being cornered and having their escapes blocked.
Of course we all understand the impulse to hug cats. They’re small, cute, fluffy little animals who behave a lot like furry toddlers and amuse us with their endearing quirks.
But as with petting, if you want your cat to enjoy hugs, your best bet is to allow kitty to come to you and seek affection on her own terms.
In short, treat them like the living beings they are and respect their feelings. They’re not pillows.
I try to limit my unsolicited petting to a quick chin-scratch or head rub in passing. If Bud wants more, he lets me know. By respecting his boundaries I’m also letting him know that approaching me when he does want affection will result in a stress-free experience: The little dude will climb onto my shoulder or pad up onto my chest, his entire body vibrating with his powerful purring, and nuzzle his cheek against me.
That’s his way of letting me know he’s in the mood to have his head and cheeks rubbed and his chin scratched. Often I’ll just hold out a hand at first, letting him guide my hand to the top of his head.
That builds trust so that when Bud is relaxed and lays down on my chest, I can hold him for a few minutes and rub his head as he purrs. He knows I’m not going to stifle him.
That’s how you hug a cat. Many dogs seem to enjoy getting scratches and pets any time, indefinitely. Cats don’t.
Again, cats are like humans — they each have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. Learning them shouldn’t be difficult, but one thing is universal in feline-human relationships: The more trust you build, the more your cat will seek you out and want to spend time by your side.