March 28 is Respect Your Cat Day and, while we know you adore your feline every day, we want to remind everyone that cats can be a little different when it comes to affection, which makes respecting them, and their space, really important in regard to their health and wellbeing. Proper petting is a perfect way to show your cat you love and respect them but, when it comes to cat caressing, it’s really important to read the signs, as their body language is the number one way they communicate things they welcome and things they reject. A relaxed cat’s ears and pupils appear normal and at ease, indicating neither fear nor aggression; if your cat’s ears are flattened against their head with eyes narrowed or dilated pupils, it’s an indication they’re nearing aggressive behavior and you should leave them be.
There are four places your cat should be okay with you petting: underneath their chin, on their cheeks behind their whiskers, the base of their ears, and (the all-time fav) the base of their tail. Then there’s the danger zone: their belly. Even a cat on its back doesn’t want their belly rubbed, so save your hands the scratches and leave their bellies alone. (Ok, some cats may be perfectly ok with it and you as their owner will be able to tell but, as a general rule, most cats really don’t like their stomachs touched.) Again, paying attention to their body language will tune you into what they like and what they don’t – and it’s imperative that all members of the family respect their wishes.
Other ways to care for your cat as a sign of your unwavering respect:
- Proper identification. Make sure your cat’s tags and/or chip are up to date to show they’re a meaningful part of your family should you ever be separated.
- Be aware. Your cat’s needs change as they age, so pay attention to any new lumps, bumps, or behaviors so you can promptly address them to ensure kitty stays healthy and happy.
- Give them what they need. Cats have a natural desire to scratch, so be sure to provide them a scratching post in addition to access to clean, fresh water and a clean litter box. (These are non-negotiable necessities for a happy cat.)
- Be prepared. Out of respect for your cat’s wellness, have some standard care products handy so you have them if you need them.