Why Your Cat Doesn’t Want A Hug

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.

Buddy the Manly
“Back off, human, or face the wrath of my fangs and claws

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.


10 thoughts on “Why Your Cat Doesn’t Want A Hug”

  1. Totally agree- Bella likes petting but ONLY on her terms and when she thinks there is a benefit to her, ie food. She also LOVES the furminator – a steel comb for cats that basically means we are grooming her thereby performing an important servant task…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good article, Big Buddy! My cats come to me when they want affection and petting. Chick likes to be held and stays until my arms wither. He probably remembers me holding him for hours when he was too small to maintain body temperature. A few of my cats
    dislike being picked up and/or held – I have the scars to prove it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Actually, Frank IS a pillow! When we sleep, I rest my head against him and put my arm around him. He also loves it when I pick him up – he immediately relaxes and starts purring.
    I think a big part of the reason why he enjoys being picked up is the way I do it. I support him with one arm under his rump and the other wrapped around his chest, so he’s in a position where he can jump down easily if he wants to. It would probably upset him if I held him on his back since his belly would be exposed and it would be hard for him to wriggle away.
    I should add that Frank’s unusual. All my other cats have struggled, often with claws and – sometimes teeth involved, until they can get free. Not fun for anyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So Frank is basically the ultra rare Pokemon of cats, one of just a handful of huggable felines in the world.

      It’s true, a lot of people try to hold their cats like they’d hold a baby, which does not go over well with the kitties.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I must be part cat, because I don’t like hugs either. LOL. I try not to hug Holly, but OH BOY it’s tough. I usually sit her on my lap and scratch her chin which she loves. She’ll do anything for that. Then I steal a kiss or two when she least expects it. My Jelly Bean used to push me away with both his paws when I tried to hug him. He was a character! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the contradiction, they look so furry and huggable, then BAM! hidden claws come out. Chin scratches seem to be very popular with most cats, as are cheek rubs. I don’t think it’s coincidence that they excrete pheromones from those areas. We are unknowingly covering ourselves with our cats’ scents, advertising that we belong to them.


    1. And I’m sure he feels much more comfortable with you and around you, knowing that you won’t force him to sit in your lap or stop him from leaving. I do the same with Bud, just a quick head scratch in passing to let him know I love him and I’m not ignoring him.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s