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Do Cats Like Belly Rubs? How to Do It the Right Way

Hallie Roddy

By Hallie Roddy

cat owner belly rubbing her cat

Cats aren’t like dogs in that they’ll enthusiastically greet you by rolling over on their backs and exposing their bellies when you come home. Every cat owner in the world has most likely gone in to give their companions a gentle belly rub, only to get attacked the second we get too close. Is this a trap that cats like the set? Or do they simply just hate having their bellies rubbed?

Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to say that all cats dislike belly rubs. There are plenty of felines that allow their owners to pet their furry tummies. Still, seeing an exposed kitty belly isn’t always an open invitation.

Do Cats Like Belly Rubs?

The answer to this question is simple—it depends on the cat. Cats communicate with their bodies. When your feline companion shows you their belly, it could just be their way of telling you they trust you. You would think this means they trust you enough to go in for a pat, but don’t jump to conclusions.

Cats won’t expose their bellies to anyone who walks in off the street. The stomach is their most vulnerable area because it has access to all their vital organs. If you come in for a belly pat, it could actually violate your cat’s trust more instead of showing them the affection that you intended.

Belly rubs are a hit or miss with cats. Even if your cat has let you rub their tummy before, it doesn’t mean they’ll let you do it every time. So how do you know whether your cat likes it or not? Start by taking a closer look at their behavior.

cat owner rubbing her pet cat's belly outside
Image By: DebraCarr, Shutterstock

Signs That a Cat Likes Belly Rubs

You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not your cat wants its belly to be touched.

Here are some signs that they enjoy when you feel their belly:
  • They roll over frequently
  • They stretch out and fully expose their underside to the sky
  • They purr while you rub their belly
  • They reposition themselves to get more comfortable
  • They close their eyes and seem relaxed

Signs That a Cat Doesn’t Like Belly Rubs

There are also some good indicators that tell you if your cat doesn’t enjoy you touching them in a particular area. Trust us; you’ll be able to tell when they aren’t having a good time.

Here are some signs that they don't enjoy belly rub:
  • They tense their bodies and draw their legs in
  • They jump up or walk away
  • They bite or nibble on your hand
  • They hiss or growl

Is There a Good Way to Give a Cat a Belly Rub?

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be forcing your cat to accept a belly rub if they don’t want it. Of course, you can try to work up to it, but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever be willing to give you access to that part of their body.

If your cat is lying on their side, you might start by stroking a place they enjoy being petted, like their chin or head. Once relaxed, work your way towards their back and their sides. If you’re lucky, you might be able to reach their belly eventually. Of course, you also might get swatted at in the process. The most important thing is to read their body language and never push them past the point they’re comfortable with.

Other Places to Pet Your Cat

Don’t be hurt if your cat doesn’t allow you to pet their belly. It is completely normal for cats to dislike being touched on certain parts of their bodies. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love or trust you—some cats simply don’t like belly rubs.

If your cat is one of the many that prefer to keep their belly area protected, there are plenty of other areas where you can pet them to show affection. Most cats love to have their chest, chin, and cheeks rubbed. The back is another safe place to touch them. Try avoiding some of the more sensitive areas, such as the paws, tail, and tummy, when petting your cat. Lastly, pay close attention to how they react to each place as you put your hand on them.

Final Thoughts

We know how enticing it can be to pet your cat’s tummy when they roll over on their backs. A cat’s belly is so soft and fluffy that it’s hard to resist the temptation. Instead of crossing a boundary and breaking their trust, appreciate that they were willing to show you their belly in the first place. You can always try to move in for a belly rub if you want, but some cats aren’t going to tolerate it.

In the end, the decision is left up to your cat. If they really like your petting them on their tummies, then it won’t be hard to figure it out!

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Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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