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Do Cats Like Hugs? Feline Preferences & Important Considerations (Vet Approved)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

woman carrying a chocolate-colored cat inside the clinic

Do Cats Like Hugs? Feline Preferences & Important Considerations (Vet Approved)


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats are beloved pets known for their independent and enigmatic nature. While dogs often enjoy hugs and physical affection, the same may not always be true for cats; they can be downright aloof sometimes. Understanding a cat’s preference for hugs can deepen the bond between feline companions and their human friends. But as a general answer, it will all depend of the breed of the cat and their personality. 

In this article, we’ll explore whether cats like hugs, how they express affection, and the best ways to show love to our feline friends.

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Do Cats Like Hugs?

Cats, unlike dogs, are not as demonstrative about expressing and receiving affection. While some individual cats may tolerate or even enjoy hugs, others will do anything they can to get out of your arms as soon as possible. Cats are more likely to respond to gentle petting, head scratches, and even simply being in the same room as their humans.

Hugs, however, can make cats feel trapped or stressed, as they value their personal space and freedom of movement. Read along to find out how to understand what your cat is comfortable with in terms of physical affection, if your cat can develop that comfort over time, and other ways to bond with your favorite feline beyond hugs.

woman hug her siamese cat
Image Credit: Piqsels

Pay Attention to Feline Body Language

To interpret a cat’s feelings about hugs, it’s essential to pay attention to their body language. Signs of discomfort or stress may include ears flattened against the head, tail twitching or thrashing, attempts to wriggle free, or a tense body posture.

On the other hand, a relaxed cat may purr, blink slowly, roll over on their backs and show their bellies, and nuzzle or head-butt you gently. Learning to read your cat’s body language will help you determine their preferences for physical affection.

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Can My Cat Learn to Like Hugs?

If you have an adult cat who is averse to hugs and similar physical closeness, unfortunately, there’s no guarantee you will be able to change that. Some cats are wired to feel anywhere from uncomfortable to threatened when even their most trusted humans wrap them up in physical closeness. However, you can start desensitizing your cat through positive reinforcement techniques and teach them to allow you to hug them. Whether they sincerely learn to enjoy it is another story. Some will, but others might continue tolerating it only for the treat, and still others will simply pass. Whatever your cat prefers, it is important to respect, love and accept them for who they are.

If you anticipate you’ll want to give your cats lots of cuddles and hugs, your best bet is to adopt a kitten. If physical closeness is a part of their life from their earliest days, they will likely be used to it and even enjoy it as adult cats.

You could also choose a breed of cat known for being more amenable to hugs from their humans. Sphynx, Ragdolls, and Scottish Folds are three breeds that are famous for wanting lots of affection and snuggles.

young woman hugging her cat
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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How Can I Show Affection to My Cat?

  • Respect their personal space. Allow your cat to approach you for interaction, respecting their boundaries and personal space. Cats often feel more comfortable initiating contact on their terms.
  • Be calm and gentle. Most cats enjoy gentle petting, especially in their favorite spots like behind the ears, under the chin, or along the back. Use slow, gentle strokes to help your cat relax.
  • Play with your cat. Engage your cat in interactive play sessions using toys like feather wands or laser pointers. This mimics hunting behavior and provides mental and physical stimulation.
  • Give your cat space to be alone. Create cozy spaces for your cat with soft beds, blankets, or cat trees where they can relax and feel secure.
  • Be observant. Pay attention to your cat’s reactions during any interaction. If they seem uncomfortable, it’s best to back off and give them space.

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While cats have unique preferences when it comes to affection, understanding and respecting their individual needs is crucial for a happy and healthy relationship. While some cats may tolerate or enjoy hugs, many felines appreciate alternative forms of affection. Observing your cat’s body language and providing them with the right kind of love and attention will strengthen the bond between you and your feline buddy.

Featured Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

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