Some felines love having their bellies rubbed, while some will try and rip your hand off if you dare think about it.
It can be confusing. I get it, I’ve been there. I’ve had cats that would nudge me and roll over to get some tummy fussing, while others would get aggressive.
If you have one of the kitties that defends their tummy with back kicks and hissing, the burning question is – why do cats not like their bellies rubbed?
I can help by providing some insight into why some cats show their bellies, then do or do not like being rubbed or stroked. Take a read and see what you think…
What Does It Mean If a Cat Shows You Its Belly?
This is the confusing part for new pet parents or people visiting friends and interacting with a cat. There are a number of possible reasons why a cat will roll over and show you their tummy, the most common are:
They’re Happy to See You
There are various ways cats show us they love us. Some zig-zag in and out of our legs, some like to headbutt us, rub their faces on ours, and some will roll over and invite us to give them a tummy rub.
You’ll know and understand your cat’s behavior better than anyone. If they’re happy and they enjoy tummy rubs, lucky you, go ahead. Just be careful to keep it within their own tolerance and willingness.
They’re Just Relaxing and Stretching Out
Some cats like to sleep or relax on their backs. If you’re interested in looking deeper into this behavior, I recommend reading – why do cats lay on their backs?
If you can identify this as the reason for your cat lying on their back with their stomach exposed, it’s best you just leave them alone. They are so comfortable that they’re willing to put themselves in a vulnerable position, so it’s important you make them feel safe.
They’re in a Defensive Position
This is where it takes a turn for some people. As they put their hand into the soft, fluffy area of a cat’s tummy – they are suddenly met by a barrage of back kicks and scratching. If this has happened to you, it’s not nice.
Your living room floor might not exactly resemble the wilderness or present any dangers. But when cats have to defend themselves in the wild they often roll on to their backs. It’s one of their many innate behaviors that cats instinctively do.
So, if for any reason they feel the need to defend themselves, they may roll onto their backs. Then, they’re able to use all their weapons (teeth, claws, limbs) to defend themselves.
If you see any signs of aggression at all, you need to leave them well alone to cool off. Some of the signs a cat might be agitated and primed to defend themselves include:
- Folding their ears down
- Making growling or whining noises
- Licking their lips
- Shaking or flicking their tail
They’re Showing You They Trust You
Combining some of the reasons why cats show us their tummies, it can just be chalked up to them displaying that they trust us and feel nice and secure in our homes and with us.
That’s a huge compliment!
They may or may not want you to reach in and give them a fuss, this is something for you to judge based on their behavior. Even if they don’t want their tummy rubbed – which a lot of cats don’t – it’s still a really positive sign that they’re super-happy.
What Does It Mean If a Cat Lets You Rub Its Belly?
If your cat likes belly rubs, this is a sure sign that they’re happy, feel safe, and trust you. They’re willing to let you interact with them in one of their most vulnerable positions, consider yourself very fortunate.
Cats are individuals, no two behave exactly the same. You’re going to have to take into account the reasons I listed above, and judge whether or not they’re asking to have their stomachs rubbed.
It’s all positive signs. It’s also important to remember, that even if your cat doesn’t like having their bellies rubbed, they still love you!
Some cats just don’t like the feel of it. Both physically, and mentally as they’re in a vulnerable position. So, don’t be offended if your cat doesn’t like it.
Do Cats like Having Their Tummy Rubbed?
I’ve read conflicting advice on whether or not we should rub our kitties tummies. So, for me, the right answer is to let our feline friends decide. If they are making it very clear that they want you to rub them, do it.
I’ve had cats over the reasons that sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. Some absolutely loved having their tummies rubbed, while some would try to rip my hand off if I got near their bellies.
So, I fussed cats that liked it. And, I respected the ones that didn’t. I will point out, however, and I don’t know if this is a fact, but in my experience female cats are much less likely to have their tummies rubbed.
This is probably due to female cats being more sensitive and protective over this area. Now I’ve remembered this it’s something I’ll discuss with my kitty owning friends when I see them. I’ll update this post with any relevant information I find out about this.
Why Do Cats Not like Their Bellies Rubbed?
As I explained above, some cats just don’t like having their stomach area rubbed or touched. They never will. It’s largely down to the individual temperament and preference of a cat. It can also be something they do due to past trauma or experience.
If your cat is laying on their back and you reach in to rub them, it may trigger a defensive reaction. This will cause them to lash out, and you may see anything from a quick scratch to full-on feral behavior with hissing and flattened ears.
It’s important you learn to pick up on these behavioral cues and ensure you do everything you can to ensure your cat never feels threatened, and don’t have their tummies rubbed if they don’t like it.
How Do I Get My Cat to like His Belly Rubbed?
This is a question I hear from a lot of cat owners. They see other cats rolling around enjoying belly rubs, and want to experience that themselves.
The problem, however, is that if your cat doesn’t like belly rubs, there’s little chance you can change their minds.
I’m not saying it’s not possible. You could try and make them more comfortable by giving them little rubs from time to time and increasing the frequency. Generally speaking, that’s how you train a cat to change a set behavior.
But, in my opinion, I don’t think it’s something you should be doing. It’s likely to cause your cat stress, we’re better off just accepting it when our cats don’t like it. There are plenty of other ways to play, interact, and give your cat some fussing.
Does Your Cat like Tummy Rubs?
As always, I’d love to hear your experiences and feedback. Does your cat like to have their tummy rubbed and stroked? Maybe they hate it or like something that’s a little different from what I touched on in this article?
Feel free to drop any comments, stories, and personal experiences related to the topic of whether or not cats like their bellies rubbed below, thanks.
2 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Not like Their Bellies Rubbed? (Or Do Like)”
AH , one of lives biggest mysteries! haha
I have two cats, one absolutely loves having his tummy rubbed, while the other one absolutely hates it – they’re like chalk and cheese.
I just have to be careful in the night if Marv the guy that hates it is on my bed, If i stroke him in the wrong place he tries to chew my hand off!
I know exactly what you’re talking about. 🙂