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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Understanding the low Petting Threshold in Cats by Anita Kelsey

Two frequent points I come throughout in my cat behaviour and grooming practise, is low petting aggression and cats that don’t like being picked up. Each points depend on a change of expectations from homeowners relating to how a ‘pet’ needs to be. It’s a troublesome space, particularly relating to grooming these kinds of cats, as a result of, in fact A: cat homeowners need and anticipate one thing again from the animals they take care of and B: grooming is a necessity for cats with lengthy fur.

It was, subsequently, fascinating to learn an article within the March subject of Your Cat , by Sue Parslow, about this very topic. Entitled Deal with With Care (pages 14,15,16), Sue discusses a extra fingers off strategy with cats and highlights the truth that many cats don’t just like the barrage of consideration and holding that people wish to lavish on them.

low petting threshold in cats

Initially, Lets take a look at Low Petting Aggression. It’s really changing into a typical characteristic of my visits leaving homeowners feeling rejected and afraid of their cats. Low petting aggression occurs when a cat is conflicted by the necessity for closeness from the homeowners and the detest of being stroked for too lengthy.  This causes inside battle which erupts with an aggressive response in an try to cease the bodily touching. Any such aggression may also be attributable to over stimulation and arousal however nonetheless leaving the cat with conflicted feelings. Some cats have a really low threshold which could be seconds while others can go for for much longer earlier than lashing out. Common indicators {that a} cat is changing into irritated are:

  • Swishing of the tail
  • Rippling of again (over stimulation)
  • Ears again or flatter
  • Hissing

Typically the cat will present no indicators of irritation however will merely lash out, seemingly with out purpose and leaving the proprietor feeling shaken and with a foul scratch or chunk wound.


The largest problem when dwelling with cats that don’t like an excessive amount of stroking is to recognise that not all cats wish to be touched the way in which we expect they do. And that is the place respect and decrease expectations come into play. Initially a cat could like to come back and examine their human and to put their scent on them as a method of greeting them or sure company that go to the house. This isn’t a inexperienced mild to achieve out to stroke the cat with a low petting threshold. It is a greeting that the cat likes and may ‘deal with’. It’s best to get on the extent of the cat and to calm down the arm downwards in order that the hand is there for the cat to rub towards. A cat could like to do that a number of instances, purring away to point out contentment. Some cats could hiss and assault right away ought to that relaxed hand then attain above them to stroke their head! So, first issues first. Watch and hearken to your cat.

  • What makes them relaxed?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?
  • How lengthy do they take pleasure in a stroke earlier than you see indicators of discontent?
  • Do they really appear to be they take pleasure in being picked up?

Understanding a cat’s physique language and respecting what your cat needs and feels is the way in which to reaching a balanced relationship with out the human caretaker getting harmed.

As Sarah Fisher, a Teddington Contact practitioner, righty states:

When your cat sits in your lap, it’s doubtless he simply needs your physique heat and to be near you. He doesn’t essentially need loads of fuss whereas he’s there

Which leads us to the query:

How a lot touching and a focus do our cats actually like?

Within the Your Cat article, talked about above, Vikki Halls, writer of many books on cats, speaks in regards to the want for reflection and a change of strategy relating to cat proprietor expectations and it’s an strategy I’ve spoken about at size on lots of my feline behaviour consultations prior to now. I quote:

Think about,everytime you stroll right into a room, you’re instantly greeted with excessive enthusiasm . After excessive pitched greetings and child speak, you have been scooped up, smothered in kisses and squeezed. If that occurs each single time you encounter that individual, you’re going to cease going into the room the place they’re. You’ll most likely begin to keep away from them altogether.

We needs to be slowing down and tuning into the alerts our cats are struggling to speak to us, when it comes to how they wish to be dealt with. A much less demanding or imposing strategy will imply you may even see extra of your cat. Cats choose low depth, much less intrusive interactions, in brief bursts.

They like to be in management; after they say it ends it ought to finish. Full on physique and eye contact, and fixed contact, are alien to most cats. We needs to be extra subtle in how we learn our cats. It’s a tough fact that cats study to tolerate sure interactions that they really feel uncomfortable about, as a method to an finish.

However my cat loves me and desires me to the touch them?

I hear this many instances however once more it’s right down to studying alerts out of your cat and never assuming that simply because it head butts your leg that it needs to be rubbed frantically on the pinnacle and scooped up like carrying a child. Some with cats that present their stomach to you. It is a signal {that a} cat is feeling very snug inside its territory and inside your presence however isn’t a inexperienced mild for a human hand to immediately begin doing the jazz fingers rub over its most venerable space!

help with timid cat
Nelly having fun with closeness on a lap. Observe how the fingers will not be stroking however gently positioned for reassurance. Nelly is certainly one of my timid rescue session cats. She has now blossomed and loves being near her proprietor Cathy.


The most effective factor we will do for our cats is be conscious of their physique language and perceive touching and dealing with from their perspective. With all the above in thoughts my prime 5 suggestions could be:

  1. Concentrate on physique language and cease touching in case your cat is getting twitchy or too aroused. A nip or scratch will likely be forthcoming if you happen to proceed to disregard the indicators.
  2. Don’t be disillusioned in case your cat isn’t a lap cat. Most of the lengthy hair breeds of cat overheat when sitting on our laps so choose to sit down beside us and as, Sarah Fisher (Tellington TTouch Teacher) rightly factors out ‘settle for that sharing the couch along with your cat is a praise from that particular person …
  3. Some cats don’t need to be stroked while sitting on our laps however merely need to benefit from the heat our laps carry (S Fisher – Your Cat) or to be near us so, once more, settle for the praise. One cat I do know referred to as Mish Mish had a really low tolerance stage. I came upon very early on, when she first sat on my lap, that stroking her resulted in a nasty chunk with no prior warning!
  4. Get on a cats stage and loosely cling the hand down for a cat to rub towards it with no try to stroke the cat. Cats with low stage dealing with tolerance love this strategy and really feel snug with it. Do not forget that some cats from rescue centres view the hand approaching them or reaching above their heads, with trepidation. Maybe the motion is related to a unfavourable affiliation from experiences prior to now?

Teddington Contact has a superb strategy to cats that don’t do effectively with excessive concentrated dealing with and touching. Among the many methods provided are mild strokes with a feather or an artist watercolour brush, evenly stroking the pinnacle and cheeks. An space most cats love (S Fisher – Your Cat)


Abu is conserving her distance however having fun with being in the identical room as a human

Assist needs to be sought by an accredited cat behaviourist ought to any cat proprietor be battling a cat that’s excessively timid or phobic of strangers. Many issues could be addressed together with altering the territory to assist these cats alongside light problem workouts to assist a cat acquire confidence.

Each cat and case is completely different however understanding pure fundamental feline behaviour is an effective place to begin.

I hope you’ve loved my article on low petting threshold in cats.

Please do submit your dealing with and stroking suggestions along with your kitties. Would love to listen to your tales and suggestions.

Good luck.



Anita Kelsey holds a firstclass honours diploma in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work primarily based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service devoted strictly to the analysis and therapy of behaviour issues in cats. She can also be a professional cat groomer and specialises in grooming aggressive or phobic cats. Anita writes for Your Cat Journal and is on their consultants panel answering readers questions on cat grooming. She additionally advises on feline behaviour for the CFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour) journal in addition to being a full member. Anita, a robust advocate of a vegan life-style, is predicated in Notting Hill, London however consults everywhere in the UK in addition to worldwide requests. She lives along with her husband, a music producer, and two Norwegian Forest cats, Kiki and Zaza.

Her debut booked, pictured left, is printed by John Blake and is known as Claws, Confessions Of A Cat Groomer.

Out there from Amazon and all good ebook retailers. Click on right here for an Etsy writer signed copy along with your message.


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