Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

The Best Places to Pet a Cat: Where & How They Most Enjoy It

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

person petting a cat

As cat parents, we understand that our feline companions are particular about many things. Mostly, they are particular about their food, where they sleep, and who they give their attention to. Cats are also critical about where you pet them.

Some spots seem to make the cat very happy, and they purr. Other spots will have you drawing your hand back because you’ve been clawed or bitten. This isn’t the cat being mean or aggressive, but they have specific places they want to be petted and places they don’t. Below, we’ll discuss the best places to pet your beloved cat.


The 5 Places to Pet a Cat

1.  Base of the Chin

Person cuddling with his cat
Image Credit: Yerlin Matu, Unsplash

If you’ve ever scratched your cat under the base of its chin, you may know that it is a prime spot for petting. Cats love to be petted under the chin, right where the skull and jawbone connect. This is thought to be because this is also where the cat’s scent glands are located, along the cheek, jaw, and face.

Of course, that doesn’t mean every cat will like to have the base of their chin scratched, but chances are, your cat will love it.

2. Base of the Ears

Scent marking is the way that cats leave their smell on things so that they can feel comfortable and safe in the environment they are living in. When cats bump their heads against you to leave their scent, it’s called bunting. This is also why cats love being scratched behind their ears.

However, it’s also important to note that you should never force the issue if your cat shies away from you or doesn’t seem to want to be petted at the base of the ears. Instead, leave the cat alone and try another day.

3. Behind the Whiskers on the Cheeks

Cat sleeping with a person
Image Credit: Alexis Muñoz, Pixabay

Behind the whiskers on the cheeks is also another area that cats love to be petted in. When you rub those spots, the cat’s scent glands are activated, making the cat feel happy, relaxed, comfortable, and safe.

4. Base of the Tail

You wouldn’t think a cat would want to be petted on the tail, but some seem to enjoy it. Cats enjoy their pet parents running their hands down their backs and then rubbing the base of their tails. It certainly ramps up the purring and attention when you do, so give it a try with your feline and see what happens. If the cat pulls away from your touch, stop and try again later.

5. Away from the Belly

person scratching a senior cat's head
Image Credit: Maurice DT, Unsplash

Many cat parents have mistakenly rubbed their cat’s stomachs when they roll over when being petted. This usually ends with them being clawed or bitten. The cat’s reaction stems from the fact that in the wild, cats are part of the food chain, and the most vulnerable part of their body is their stomach, which they protect every way they can.

Even though your cat may feel safe with you, they also have that instinct to protect themselves, which is why most cats don’t like their bellies rubbed.


Signs that Your Cat Does Not Want to be Petted

Now that you know where your cat likes to be petted and the one place it doesn’t, we’ll give you a few signs that your cat would prefer to be left alone below.

  • Moving, shifting, or turning their head away
  • Rapid, short bursts of grooming
  • Ear flattening
  • No purring or rubbing
  • Exaggerated blinking
  • Swishing, thrashing, or thumping their tail
  • Biting, batting, or swiping at your hand

If your cat exhibits any of the signs above when you’re petting it, it’s a clear indication that it doesn’t want to be touched. It’s best to leave the cat alone if it doesn’t want to be petted and try again later.



As you can see, there are a few places where cats like to be petted. However, there is at least one place (the belly) that you’ll need to leave alone if you don’t want to be clawed or bitten. There are a few signs that your cat would prefer to be left alone, such as moving away from you or biting, batting, and swiping at your hand.

If your cat prefers not to be petted, it’s best to give the cat its way. When it’s ready for love, your cat will certainly come to you and let you know it in its own time.

Featured Image Credit: Nitiphonphat, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database