A basic rule of cat ownership is that your cat will always be the boss of you. Most cats will help themselves to a hug from their designated human if they’re in the mood. However, approach with caution if you’re initiating the kitty cuddle and never outstay your welcome.
Personality plays a large part in whether your cat likes hugs, and regular handling will encourage your cat to be more affectionate. However, some cats simply don’t like the feeling of being confined and held against their will no matter how much effort you put into providing quality bonding time; others melt into purring bundles of fluff and snuggle up for as long as you’re prepared to administer the hugs and keep on coming back for more.
Cats don’t react well to surprise encounters so make sure she sees you before you move in for a hug. Put your hand down to your cat and stroke her back a couple of times to gauge her mood. A little scratch to the back of her head can seal the deal. If she stays interested and welcomes the attention, it’s a reasonably safe bet you can pick her up.
Hold your cat gently but firmly so she feels safe yet not restrained. Never be tempted to squeeze her, no matter how cute, soft and fluffy she is. If your cat stretches a paw toward your shoulder, starts purring or rubbing her head against you, she’s settling down for a hug. Sit down and let her get comfortable; if she starts to struggle, set her down quickly and carefully.
Learn to spot the warning signs that your together time is over. If your cat starts to twitch her tail, move her ears back or dilate her pupils, she has probably topped up her hug requirements and is preparing to go. Some cats will sit happily with you for hours, others are content with a few minutes of attention and then they’re gone. A few unpredictable crazy critters purr lovingly before taking a swipe at you and your adorable bundle of cuteness suddenly turns into a raging ball of teeth and claws. It’s all perfectly normal cat behavior.
- Think Like a Cat: Pam Johnson-Bennett
- The Cat Whisperer: Claire Bessant
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images