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Why does my cat hate cuddles?

Being held by a person may seem demeaning to one who is a relative — albeit a tiny one — of the king of beasts

APART from finding all things cat ridiculously cute, there is one thing many cat lovers have in common – that feeling of rejection when kitty does everything in his or her power to wriggle out of a good old fashioned cuddle.

So what is it about cats that puts them at the other end of the ‘needy’ spectrum from dogs?

While cats that will do anything for a kiss ‘n cuddle do exist, felines will generally run in the opposite direction when they see you heading towards them with outstretched arms.

According to vetstreet.com, while cats enjoy being up high – on the counter or a bookcase – they usually want to achieve those heights on their own terms.

‘Being held by a person may seem demeaning to one who is a relative — albeit a tiny one — of the king of beasts,’ said the site.

‘If your cat doesn’t enjoy being held, it may be because he just feels disrespected when you scoop him up.’

Another theory is that when a cat is whipped off its feet, it instinctively feels as if it has been scooped up by a predator.

Dr. Wailani Sung, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in the USA, says that being picked up and held is a form of restraint, even if it’s meant lovingly.

Some cats may have had negative experiences with being restrained.

‘This could be associated with being physically restrained for vaccinations, having their temperature taken or having their nails trimmed,’ she said.

‘It takes only one or two mildly negative experiences to teach a cat to be wary.’

PetMD.com says that cats are not so far removed from their wilder ancestors and, while they are more in tune with humans now than ever, their DNA tells them that they are both predator and prey.

‘A human swooping down for a cat hug is not much different from a predator swooping down in the wild, and it can actually invoke a stress response in a cat,’ the site said.

‘Stress from a hug can activate the fight, flight or freeze response in a cat.

‘When hugged, many felines will struggle to free themselves, or may scratch or bite in their defence.

‘If your cat is tolerating the hug and not trying to get away, don’t mistakenly assume that your cat loves what you are doing.’

Signs that your cat doesn’t like a hug
* Trying to get away
* Swishing the tail
* Dilated pupils
* Hissing
* Scratching
* Growling
* Freezing

How to hug a cat that doesn’t show signs of stress
* Hug them on their own terms.
* Never swoop down and sweep them off their feet
* Let your cat come to you and sit on your lap
* Pet your cat in her favourite spot – under the chin is usually a favourite

While there are exceptions to the rule, nine out of 10 cats become stressed out when hugged or cuddled.

 

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