Cats like belly rubs, right? Yes, maybe… perhaps not at all. Cats are curious creatures and we’re not even going to pretend to understand them when they’re headbutting us, following us from one room to the other, or begging us to pet them and scratching our eyes out. For example, what does it mean when you catch your cat showing belly?
When your four-legged friend exposes her belly to you, you’re conditioned to think that she wants a belly rub or two. You approach her, place your fingers on her belly, and take a deep breath – because you never know how she’s going to react. You start rubbing her belly and she freaks out on you. What the heck?
Cats are surprisingly good at communicating with you. When your cat exposes her belly to you, you need to pay attention to the rest of the cues she’s giving off – whether she’s purring and rolling around or standing still and getting her claws ready to attack. Cats are creatures of consent, after all.
What’s even more confusing about the whole belly thing might be the fact that you can care for one cat that adores belly rubs and another that goes completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs – at the same time. Pay attention to your cat’s body language, and you’re good to go.
Now, before you get stuck in the cat version of a Venus Fly Trap, you might want to throw a glance at what we’ve prepared for you. Why do cats show you their belly? Do cats like having their bellies rubbed? What do you do when your cat shows you her belly? All that and more down below!
Cat showing belly: What does it mean?
When your cat rolls over and shows you her belly, that’s not always an invitation for a belly rub. Maybe she’s stretching. Maybe she’s communicating that she trusts you and that she’s comfortable enough to expose the most vulnerable parts of her body to you. Maybe she’s showing off.
Whatever the case might be, you’re probably going to get attacked by your cat when you assume that she’s begging for a belly rub simply because she’s showing you her belly. Grow up.
We’re kidding, we’re kidding. You’re not the only one who thinks that a cat exposing her belly means that she’s giving you her consent to touch her. You’re not the only one who doesn’t know that exposing her belly with all four paws up can be a defensive stance, too. So, here’s what you need to know.
1. She trusts you
All of Google seems to agree that your cat probably wants to show you how much she trusts you. Cats are wired differently than humans – they’re wild animals and they’re conditioned to protect themselves at all times.
When a cat trusts you, she’s comfortable enough to expose the most vulnerable parts of her body to you. Whether she’s chilling on the sofa, rolling on the floor, or playing with you, she might show you her belly from time to time. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to touch her.
2. She’s comfortable around you
Cats are known to be quite reserved, standoffish, and borderline aggressive when they’re around strangers or people they’re not fond of. Maybe your cat starts a fight with your friend’s dog every time they’re over. Maybe she goes completely nuts when you take her to your mom’s house.
Whatever the case might be, your cat acts differently when she’s around you. She trusts you and she’s comfortable around you. She’s aware that she’s allowed to expose her belly to you because you’re not going to take advantage of her. She wants you to pet her because she’s safe and secure around you.
3. She’s showing you how much she loves you
Cats communicate with a myriad of strange sounds, movements, and odors. One of the ways your cat might be communicating with you is the famous exposed belly. On one hand, maybe she’s showing you how much she appreciates you by exposing the most vulnerable part of her body to you.
On the other hand, she might be begging you to rub her belly, cuddle her, and snuggle with her. When the two of you are spending quality time together and she decides to roll on her back and show you her assets – she probably showing you how much she loves you. What are you going to do?
4. She’s telling you “You’re the boss!”
When you’re hanging out with your cat and she decides to show you her belly, she might be telling you that she accepts you as “authority.” Cats are known to do that around other cats.
When they’re surrounded by cats of a higher status (a higher rank), they’re likely to stand up to them by growling at them, picking up a fight, or swiping with a warning paw.
When they decide that they’re outnumbered or that they’re weaker than the other cat, they might lie on their back and show their bellies as a sign of surrender. Now, we’re not saying that your cat might be afraid of you – but there’s a chance that she sees you as some sort of authority.
5. She’s tummy trapping you
We’re all familiar with tummy traps, right? When you’re playing with your feline friend and she rolls around and exposes her belly, you’re conditioned to think that she’s asking for a belly rub. You reach your fingers out to touch her, and the moment you do, she attacks you and scratches your eyes out.
Why do cats do that? Apparently, a cat’s stomach can be hypersensitive to touch. And no matter how much your cat wants you to rub her belly, she might be overstimulated every time you do. At the end of the day, she doesn’t know how to tell you to stop – so, she attacks you.
Do cats like having their bellies rubbed?
We’ve been told that cats adore exposing their bellies and having their bellies rubbed, but on the whole, that’s not the case. While some cats might be okay with you petting the fluff on their bellies or playing with their bellies, most cats find the entire process unbearable. Cats have hypersensitive stomachs, after all.
Why’s that? This is because the hair follicles on the belly and tail area are hypersensitive to touch. When you touch your cat’s belly, you might overstimulate her and cause her to act up. While she might allow you to touch her once or twice, she’s certainly not going to appreciate you touching her the third time.
Why do some cats like belly rubs and some don’t?
Most cats love being pet on the top of the head, sides of the face, neck, and under the chin. Moreover, most cats hate being pet on the belly, paws, legs, and tail. Cats don’t like to be touched in particular places because of hypersensitivity and the need to protect themselves no matter what.
Pay attention to your cat’s body language to ensure you don’t end up upsetting her by rubbing her belly, paws, legs, or tail. Remember, most cats have their own unique preferences, communication styles, and responses to stimulation which means you never know how your cat’s going to react.
Why do some cats like belly rubs and some don’t? Not all cats are made the same and that’s why you might be able to pet your neighbor’s cat on the belly without getting attacked. However, you can’t do the same thing with your own cat. What are the signs that your cat likes or doesn’t like belly rubs?
1. Signs your cat likes belly rubs
When you approach your cat’s belly and she attacks you right away then she’s probably not comfortable with your getting too close to her exposed belly. With that out of the way, though, your cat might respond to your rubs by showing you her belly, softly pawing for attention, and rubbing against you.
On top of that, you might notice her closing her eyes, purring, meowing softly, and pushing her fluffy belly closer to your hands. When she exposes her belly for the first time, she might be stretching or scratching an itch. When she does it again and again, she probably wants a belly rub.
2. Signs your cat doesn’t like belly rubs
When you’re unsure of what the whole “showing belly” thing means, observe your cat’s behavior. We mentioned beforehand that your cat might attack you the moment that your fingers approach her exposed belly – but that doesn’t happen every single time.
You might notice her swatting, biting your fingers, and pawing at your hands when you try to rub her belly or come close to her exposed body. You might cause her to walk away or hide under the table when you come closer to her. You might even notice her entire body language change – from happy to angry.
Whatever you decide to do, always respect your cat’s body autonomy.