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Do Cats Like to be Hugged?


If you're anything like me, attempting to hug your cat is an exercise in futility. The panting. The squirming. The agonizing look in her eyes. At the end of the day, it's just not worth it for me to keep up the attempts.


Penny's reactions to a little affection got me wondering—are there actually cats out there who enjoy hugging? I decided to check in with Dr. Rebecca Jackson, staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance, for some answers.


Do some cats actually like being hugged?


Of course! Many cats—and some breeds in particular—are very affectionate and love to lay on laps, nuzzle into necks and yes, hug. Burmese, Ragdoll and LaPerm cats, for example, are known for being "people" cats, forming strong bonds with their two-legged families.


How can pet owners tell if their cats like being hugged?


Well for one thing, they don't run in the other direction when they see you coming! If your cat tenses up, tries ot get away or makes low, throaty vocalizations when you hug him, he may be telling you he'd rather be left alone. On the other hand, if he lets you hold him easily and purrs loudly, he's probably very happy for the hug.


What is the best way to go about hugging a cat?


First, don't sneak up on or surprise your cat. Startling or interrupting him while he's sleeping or eating is an easy way to end up with a scratch instead of some snuggle time. Start by petting your cat softly to see if you think he's up for a hug, first. Then be gentle. Some cats may give off a tough vibe, but they just need to be handled with care. Don't grab him roughly or hold him too tightly, and let go if he seems uncomfortable. You should also let him come to you. Some cats prefer to be affectionate on their own terms. Sit or lay down near your cat, and see if he will come to you for a cuddle. This might be the preferred method for cats who don't like to be picked up, but still crave some attention. Gentle praise spoken in a soft voice can also serve as positive reinforcement for your cat, so he'll learn that hugs are a good thing. And lastly, know when to let go. A short hug might start out fine, but if your cat starts to squirm or pull away, let him go. Try again later when he's more relaxed.


Image: llike / via Shutterstock


Article originally appeared on Pet360.com

Comments  13

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  • My Kitties LOVE hugs!
    08/18/2015 03:32pm

    I resent wasting 10 minutes trying to register/login just so I can leave a comment! Make it SIMPLE, or lose your readers!*HISS*! It really takes the fun out of it.

    So- my Cats LOVE to be held and hugged ever since they were tiny Kittens. They're 11 years old now, and they'll always be my babies.

    Now- why did I have to go to so much trouble just to say that??

  • 08/10/2016 12:19am

    I love this petmd.com website, but I always have problems logging in! Also hard to save articles or access my saved articles at a later date! I do not want to keep printed copies, so was happy I could save them, but it's difficult to get to them later....ughh....but regardless I keep trying. I guess because I love my kitty so much!

  • Hugs!
    10/15/2015 07:01pm

    I have 3 cats and they all love to be hugged! They are definitely lap cats and very affectionate and take turns sitting on me. In the winter, they all three sit on me, on my lap and legs. I can also go up to them when they are sleeping and hug and pet them. Even if I startle them, they don't get upset, they just deal with it.
    There may be times when they don't want to be bothered, or when they've had enough and they just walk away. Because I don't chase them down, they have grown comfortable with me.

  • My black cat Angus
    12/25/2015 01:58pm

    I have a rescued cat (estimated to be about 7 years old now after history suggests he has lived in shelters his entire life) who took a very long time to trust me and the fact that he was "free" of any cages. He doesn't like to be hugged/held, but is always sure to be near me and follows me everywhere around the house. He's an indoor cat. He butts up against me at bed time and while we watch television. So, because a cat might not like to be held/hugged, doesn't necessarily mean that there's no close bond.

  • 01/08/2016 06:15pm

    I also rescued a shelter cat...she is one years old...it's been about 3 months now and she is just starting to come and sit and follow me...she's terrified of being picked up and terrified of anyone who comes to the door.

    She doesn't act in a hostile way...but will turn into an oiled snake and wiggle right out of your arms..you can see the fear in her eyes...

    Haven't much info on her past life but the shelter said she was brought in and left there pregnant with kittens...they had her fixed and put her up for adoption...she is very sweet and gentle just so afraid of everything hopefully in time she will adjust and feel safe....baby steps...

  • 06/08/2016 12:11pm

    Hi nyad666 i prefer to rescue a Cat as a Pet from the AWL in Adelaide, Australia. I too rescued a 9 year old Cat named Harry who had been a resident Cat all his life. There were strict conditions to adopting him. One was he must never be allowed outside. No one had ever shown interest in Harry but me. He loved me for the time he lived, 3 years and 3 months. I was very distraught as i felt i did not have enough time with him. He loved and trusted me but hid every time any one came into the house. After he passed i adopted another 3 year Ginger and White i named Megsy. He is adorable and i love him very much. My Cats spend lots of time with me. I love them so much they are best friends. Most People want a particular breed or type. I love them all and the older the better as most want a Kitten or younger Cat. Adopted older Cats appreciate being loved. I wish you well with your Cat too. Best Wishes Liliana.

  • Maine Coons and Domestic
    03/10/2016 11:29pm

    I had 2 Maine Coons - one was a short hair and one long. They absolutely LOVED affection and would get on my lap, top of my chair, sleep on/next to me but they *hated* hugs. As they got older they would tolerate a few seconds of cuddle but demanded to be put down after. My domestic shortie does not mind hugs but we just have to be mindful of how we pick her up - support chest and back legs (as opposed to just scooping off the floor.) I always pet her first (she is always spoken to affectionately) and then pick her up if she's okay with it (she usually is.) My older boys have passed on and I miss them terribly but who knows... maybe I'll find/get some MC's again someday... :)

  • Yes oddly enough!
    06/28/2016 09:21pm

    I rescued a tiny black kitten when the college kids next door left him behind when they moved. Little did I know I gained a Ragdoll cat in the process. I can carry him on my shoulders all day long and he's purring happily as we move around! I can hold him upside down or sway his body back and forth it's like he has no bones! I have had many breeds of cats, they just appear in my life but Hercules (his name) is one exceptional breed. He even loves to play fetch and will all day if I would just for the Celebration when he actually brings it back! Also loves to be talked to, which I forget and notice he's quiet when I am but if I start telling him good morning and would he like breakfast and just nonsense oh my he gets so happy! To you fellow Ragdoll cat parents aren't they just fun? I Must go find him now to play :)

  • 06/29/2016 07:22pm

    What a precious Kitty! Shame on those heartless college kids who left him behind, and bless you for rescuing him! Their loss is your gain- and it's especially Hercules' gain as well.

  • Cuddly cats
    08/02/2016 02:30pm

    Over the years my husband and I had 21 rescue cats. Some had no interest in hugging and some really loved it. Funny thought the ones who love it really love it, currently I have a 12 year old blind cat who has always been a cuddle boy and multiple times a day he will walk up to me stand up on his hind legs reaching up for me to grasp him around his belly and lift him onto my shoulder.

    There is not especially any rhyme or reason about who likes hugs and who does not. And a few who I never suspected would like it surprised me. I will see that we have observed many cats watching us with others who are more cuddly or with belly rubs seem to try to duplicate what is going on to see if they like it.
    Also one of our males as a small kitten with an "I want to please you personality" would seem to grovel with his front paws on our shoes in the morning. We had never seen this in a cat before, however 4 of our other males picked up the habit.

    And a tiny sad part but still filled with love, when it was time to send my beautiful little Calico to Rainbow bridge, she would not lay on the table as she saw I was in the room, and she would not settle until I picked her up and held her over my shoulder like she would daily have me do. So since it calmed her I asked the Vet to give her the shot in my arms while I sat on the couch. My sweet little girl left me until it is my turn, but held in arms that she always loved since I raised her from one week old.
    I think over the years we have had some amazing cats with different personalities, many were abused before they came to us, but after a time they would bloom in personality and love.

  • 08/03/2016 05:45pm

    So sorry for your loss.

  • 08/03/2016 06:10pm

    thank you so very much. it was just a few months ago, so i still tear up when i talk about her.

  • 25 characters.
    12/17/2016 06:05am

    My boy loves to cuddle, sleeps with me several times a week, but does not like to sit on my lap. He isn't crazy about being picked up, but if he sees I'm taking him to a "good" place -- say, a window he normally can't see out of -- he's ok with it. He's "so-so" with hugs.

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