Is Your Cat Asking To Play Or Asking To Be Petted? How Can You Tell?
Photo provided by Friskies Explorer Kitty420.
I get many calls and emails from people who were surprised when they got paw-smacked by their cats while attempting to pet or hold. Often, the problem is that the owners misread the cats’ requests. The owners thought the cats were approaching for a petting session but in reality, they were in play-mode.
Cats don’t exhibit an official “play bow” in the way that dogs do so each cat may solicit playtime in different ways. Some cats just start darting around the house chasing anything that moves, others bring toys to their owners, and then there are some who choose the more subtle route by simply sitting and staring at a family member or climbing up in a lap. It can be easy to interpret this as a request for a nice, relaxing time to pet and offer affection but if kitty was in revved-up play-mode your attempt at petting may get rebuffed.
If your cat has paw-smacked you while you were attempting to pet or has jumped off your lap whenever you try to touch her, you might just be misreading her signals. The simple solution is to look at her body posture. Does her face look relaxed? Is she facing you or facing away from you? If she’s looking right at you then she’s probably trying to get your attention. Are her pupils dilated? If so, that’s often a sign that she’s excited or reactive (of course that depends on lighting in the immediate environment as well). Is her tail twitching or moving? If you answered yes, then she’s not relaxed.
If past experience has shown that you’ve been paw-smacked on a routine basis, then use this information as an indication that she’s asking for playtime and instead of trying to pet her, get out an interactive toy and play with her. Let her work off that energy and have a great time. What often happens is that after the play session, when kitty is more relaxed, will be an opportunity for cuddle time.
How does your cat ask for playtime with you?
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