According to the calendar, today is #HugYourCatDay. And while, that sounds sweet, most of us with cats know that our feline friends teach us daily lessons in consent. Not all cats enjoy being hugged, but that shouldn't limit the way you show your affection.
Check out our tips from cat behavior expert Dr. Mikel Delgado for more on do's and don'ts for #HugYourCatDay
- Hugging is a way to express love and affection, at least for humans. Hugging is not a natural part of how cats express affection with one another, and understandably so.
- Hugging can make some cats feel trapped or threatened
- Some cats do enjoy hugs - they will relax in your arms, and purr or slow blink when held. They won't try to get away when held.
- Cats who do not enjoy hugging will struggle to get away, or they may freeze - but with very tight muscles
- Respect your cats wishes when it comes to being held
If your cat doesn't enjoy being hugged, here are some more ideas on how to express your love
5 alternatives to hugging your cat on #HugYourCatDay
- Gentle petting especially of the cheeks and forehead, where most cats prefer touch
- Letting your cat rub themselves against an outstretched hand or soft brush
- Letting your cat approach YOU for interactions - they'll learn they can trust you to respect their wishes
- Interactive playtime with a wand toy - it's a great way to bond with cats who aren't so sure about petting
- Using clicker/positive reinforcement training to engage with your cat and help them see you as a source of fun and treats. You can also use training to reinforce confident and relaxed behaviors