When you have a cat, especially a little kitten, you want to share as many cuddles with him as you can. Cats, like dogs, will sometimes roll on their back as a way of greeting you. However, unlike dogs this is not usually an invitation to rub his belly.
Why Does My Kitten Roll On His Back?
When a cat rolls on his back and exposes his stomach, it is a sign of submission. Their stomach is vulnerable and sensitive and cats instinctively protect it. If a kitten shows you his stomach, he is showing a sign of complete trust. The usual feline greeting involves kitty rubbing against your legs. If he is tired and doesn't feel like getting up at the moment, he may choose to roll on his back to say hello instead.
Should I Rub His Belly?
Every cat is unique and while most don't like having their bellies rubbed, some do. The only way to know is to try. When kitty rolls on his back, try gently petting his stomach. If he begins twitching his tail or nipping at your hands, these are signs of agitation or over-stimulation and it's best to stop. Just because he doesn't want his belly rubbed doesn't mean he doesn't love you. The fact that he rolled over and showed you his tummy in the first place means he has a very close bond with you.
If kitty doesn't enjoy having his belly rubbed, there are other ways to show affection. Stroke him on his back from shoulders to tail or scratch him behind his ears or under his chin. Each cat has a unique personality, so pay attention to how he responds. If kitty is purring, has his eyes closed and isn't nipping or twitching his tail, he is enjoying the attention. If kitty kneads his paws on you, this mimics how kittens knead their mother to get more milk when nursing and is a sign of contentment.
Building trust with your kitten involves respecting his boundaries. If kitty wants to be left alone or put down, respect his wishes and give him some space. Oftentimes cats enjoy the companionship of simply being near you, even if they aren't in the mood to be petted. Grooming is necessary and offers an excellent opportunity to bond with your kitten. Try using a slicker brush and gently grooming his back, always combing from head to tail. This is especially important with kittens so they become accustomed to being brushed. When kitty has had enough and displays signs of agitation, let him go. If your kitten knows he can walk away when he wants to, he will trust you and be more likely to stick around longer next time.
- Why Does My Cat Do That?; Catherine Davidson
- The Encyclopedia of the Cat; Michael Pollard
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images