Why doesn’t my cat like having his tummy tickled?


Did your previous cat enjoy having their tummy tickled, but your new cat isn't having any of it? Our expert shares her advice on why your cat doesn't like having his tummy tickled.

Q) My last cat, Jeremy, used to adore having his tummy rubbed. He would come over to me, flop down on his back at my feet, spread his legs, and purr loudly as I stroked and tickled his tummy. Now, I have a new rescue cat, Fred, who is generally friendly and will flop down in front of me. But if I tickle his tummy, he rakes my hands with his back legs. What can I do to make him enjoy being stroked there? - Mary Donald


Cats have strong individual preferences on where they like to be petted. When Fred flops down in front of you, this is a friendly gesture, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he will enjoy a tummy rub, as you have discovered!

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When stroking your cat, regularly stop to check in with them to make sure they're still enjoying it.

Most cats prefer to be petted around the cheeks, chin, and the bottom of the ears. Jeremy may have liked having his tummy stroked but he was an exception. Most cats have a no-go area on the tummy and at the base of the tail. All the other areas like the back, the neck, and flanks are somewhere in between.

Cats are so individual in their preferences that some cats are ambivalent about being petted at all.