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How to Get Your Cat to Cuddle (10 Expert Tips)

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

gray tabby cat cuddling up to her owner in bed

Cats will have varying comfort levels when it comes to being touched and cuddling. Some will naturally enjoy being held and snuggling up to you during nap time. Others are more active and independent and may not be able to be still for long enough for a cuddle session.

Sometimes, it just takes a little more effort to get your cat comfortable with cuddling. So, if your cat isn’t the most physically affectionate pet, you can still try some things that may help it learn to enjoy cuddling. Here are some quick tips for successfully getting your cat to cuddle with you.

The 10 Tips to Get Your Cat to Cuddle

1. Start With Pets

If your cat isn’t used to getting pets, then it’s an unfair ask to have them cuddle with you. So, make sure that your cat is comfortable with pets and enjoys receiving them before expecting them to cuddle.

Most cats like it when you stroke their back. You can pet your cat starting at his shoulder blades and moving down to the base of his tail. Cats that don’t enjoy this may need some encouragement with treats. Treats will help to build stronger positive associations with petting.

Once your cat gets used to getting pets on his back, you can try scratching under its chin or around the ears. Just make sure to avoid any of your cat’s sensitive areas, including its paws, underbelly, and whiskers.

ginger cat with the owner
Image Credit: Yuriy Seleznev, Shutterstock

2. Build Up in Increments

Cats often just need some time before they start opening up and showing affection. Most cats will require some time before they become comfortable being physically closer to people. So, let your cat approach you first. He may start with just brushing along your legs, and as he becomes more comfortable with you, he might start walking across your lap. This can eventually lead to your cat sitting near you and then eventually moving on to sitting on your lap.

3. Reward With Treats

If you have a food-motivated cat, using treats can help build and establish positive connections with cuddling. Start by having treats on your lap. Let your cat approach you and reward him for every time he stands on your lap. You can also try laying down and putting treats on your abdomen. When your cat is on your abdomen, you can reward him with a treat. If your cat enjoys receiving pets, try petting him every time he’s on you as another way to build a positive association with cuddling in physical contact.

cat owner belly rubbing her cat russian blue
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

4. Incorporate Cuddling into Your Daily Routine

Cats thrive on their daily routine, and they feel less stressed when they can anticipate what happens next. So, some cats may learn to enjoy cuddling if you add it to your daily routine. For example, you can insert a cuddle session after a play session when your cat is tired out and feeling calm.

If you consistently have your cat cuddle after he plays with you, your cat can then learn that cuddling is an activity that’s just a normal part of his daily routine. When your cat realizes this, he may be more welcoming of cuddle sessions and may even be proactive with engaging in them.

5. Be Calm and Comforting

Your demeanor is also going to play an important role in getting a cat to enjoy cuddling with you. Cats value and seek safety and security, so if you are not a safe presence to them, there’s very little reason for them to snuggle with you.

Before you cuddle with your cat, make sure that you aren’t harboring any sort of stress or anxiety, as your cat is able to pick up on these emotions and will not feel comfortable if you’re not feeling comfortable. Remain calm and use a soft and soothing voice to communicate to your cat that it’s a safe time to cuddle.

cat kneading and purring while lying on owner's lap
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

6. Use a Soft Blanket

Cats typically enjoy warmer temperatures, so they may appreciate cuddling with you for warmth. Using a soft blanket can encourage some cats to cuddle with people. You can try laying on your couch with a blanket over you. Your cat may end up approaching you and choose to lie on the blanket because it’s soft, fuzzy, and warm. Some cats might need some extra encouragement, and it can help to lay out some treats to let them explore the blanket and become comfortable with it.

7. Brush Your Cat

Grooming is a sign of affection that’s shared between cats, so your cat might appreciate it if you groom him with a soft brush. Brushing your cat may help your cat feel your affection and help with calming him down. It also helps strengthen your bond with your cat. Overall, grooming your cat will get used to being touched and petted, which can lead to him becoming comfortable enough with you to start cuddling.

owner is brushing grey pregnant cat outdoors
Image Credit: Only_NewPhoto, Shutterstock

8. Cuddle When Your Cat Is Calm

It’s important to find your cat in the right mood in order for him to be more open and receptive to cuddling. The morning usually isn’t the best time to try to cuddle with your cat because he will already be well-rested and probably will be either hungry or full of energy. You will probably have more success if you cuddle with your cat after a play session or in the afternoon when he’s looking for a place to nap.

9. Play With Your Cat

One of the best ways to get your cat to cuddle with you is to build his affection toward you. Being deliberate with strengthening your bond with your cat will naturally lead to him wanting to spend more time with you.

A great way to bond with your cat is to play with him. Get to know what his favorite toys are and what kinds of games he likes to play with you. Your cat may have fun playing with a cat wand or chasing a ball that you throw across the hallway. Play will also help your cat expend any pent-up energy and help him to wind down. This can lead your cat to a calm state of mind and be more receptive to cuddling.

cat gives her owner a paw
Image Credit; rossiaa33, Shutterstock

10. Don’t Force It

More often than not, cat owners just have to be a little more patient with their cats and let their cats approach them on their own terms. Kittens and cats that live with a new family may take several months to get used to the environment and start feeling safe.

It’s important to not force your cat to do anything that he’s not comfortable with. Forcing your cat out of his comfort zones will only increase the distance between you two, and it will disrupt or destroy any positive associations that he may have already built with cuddling. So, make it a goal to have cuddling become a positive activity for your cat. This means cuddling only when your cat wants to and using treats and other rewards to reinforce positive interactions.


Cats can enjoy learning to cuddle, but it must be done on their own terms. Many cats will like cuddling with their owners and taking naps with them. It just might take them some time to get used to it.

You can do some things to encourage your cat to cuddle, but it’s also important to not take it personally if your cat doesn’t ever end up enjoying it. Rather than forcing your cat to cuddle, show your cat love in ways that he understands and appreciates. In return, your cat will be sure to show you love in his own unique and special ways.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Abney, Unsplash

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