How to help a kitten that doesn’t want to be pet:
- Crouch down to their level
- Extend your index finger for sniffing
- Reward them with treats after petting
- Keep petting sessions brief
Your kitten doesn’t like it if you pet them in the wrong places or at the wrong moment.
They could also be in pain or distress from a past traumatic event.
As cat owners, we just can’t resist holding our adorable fluffy kittens. But, the sad reality is that, as cute as they are, not all kittens like it when you pet, hold, or hug them.
A healthy bond between a human and a kitten should involve physical interaction, but this does not mean your kitten wants to be pet all the time.
Some kittens enjoy limited amounts of affection from their owners. Of course, this can be a bit frustrating because you want to spend quality time with your kitten.
In this article, I will tell you what you can do if your kitten doesn’t like to be pet.
Read more to know why your kitten doesn’t enjoy petting and how to train your kitten to enjoy being pet.
Why Your Kitten Does Not Like to Be Pet
Here are reasons why your kitten dodges your hand each time you want to pet them.
1. Past Traumatic Experience
Many cats find their way into shelters because they have been abandoned or lost. This whole process can be stressful for a kitten. It makes them distrust humans.
If you adopted your kitty from a shelter, it could be that they have been through a traumatic event.
Sadly, not everyone loves cats. Some people may have treated your kitten harshly before they found solace in your home.
They, therefore, associate humans with danger and pain. If there are children in your family, it is common for them not to know their boundaries.
They may over-manipulate your kitten or even drop them. This makes your kitten not want to be touched again.
However, you still can reassure your kitten through positive reinforcements, lots of playtime, and treats.
2. They Are in Pain
If your kitten used to enjoy being petted, then suddenly they didn’t want to be touched, it could be a physical problem.
Maybe be you are touching an area that hurts. This makes them uncomfortable.
Many diseases or medical problems can cause pain in a kitten. So, the best way to figure out what’s wrong with your kitten is to visit a vet.
3. You Pet Them in the Wrong Place
Cats can be particular about many things, including where they like to be pet. Some spots turn on the purring machine in your kitten, while others draw out those sharp claws.
Most cats hate to be pet on the belly or the tail. A cat’s tail is a good measuring stick for how stimulated your kitten is.
The more the tail moves, the sooner you should keep your hands to yourself. Petting your kitten’s legs and feet can also make them feel like they are vulnerable or trapped.
Most kitties love soft, slow rubs down the back of their heads and neck. Your kitten also feels good when you tickle them with your fingertips under the chin.
How to Train a Kitten to Enjoy Petting
When your kitten rests on your lap, kneading on you as they purr, it’s a moment of pure peace and love.
When you have a cuddly kitten, it makes it easier for you to be able to pet them without facing any resistance.
It all starts with handling the kitten frequently, bonding, and spending a lot of time together.
Here is how to do it:
1. Handle the Kitten at 4-8 Weeks
The sooner you start to handle and spend time with your kitten, the greater chance you have of raising a tame and cuddly cat.
The best time to start taming a kitten is around four to eight weeks. If you have a litter of kittens, handling them daily is a good idea.
It makes your kitten bond to the human scent which is very important in the bonding process.
This is your window of socialization. It is the time you make your kitten get used to things you will be doing with them in their lifetime.
If you want your kitten to get used to being pet, handle them frequently during this period.
Around this stage, your kitten is learning new things and forming their impressions of the world. Make sure they have a positive impression of humans.
Most of us can’t bond with our kittens at this time, but adopting from a kitten foster who socializes their cats well is a good replacement.
2. Play With Your Kitten Often
Even if you got your kitten when they are past the age of socialization, you can still train them to love being petted.
Even though your kitten seems standoffish, they all love to play. Dedicate some time each today to play with your kitten.
That may sometimes mean just throwing them a ball across the room or giving them a feather wand to chase.
The point is, you want to grow your bond, and help socialize your kitten.
Play a variety of games with your kitten using various interactive and fun toys. Kittens also love ping pong balls to chase around.
Playing is a good way to make your kitten enjoy your company. In turn, whenever you want to pet them, your little furry friend will have no objection.
Plus, a kitten that doesn’t have a lot of pent-up energy is more likely to want to be pet and to cuddle.
3. Increase Your Kitten’s Confidence
A more confident and secure kitten will likely be more open to cuddling. You can increase your kitten’s confidence by giving them isolated and high spaces where they can retreat.
Depending on your kitten’s age, get them a cat tree or perch that is not too tall. Cats like to stay in elevated spaces, as this makes them feel safe and increases their confidence.
Some perches come with hanging toys, so your kitten can still play while enjoying some “me time.”
You can also try having some friends over, so your kitten gets used to meeting new people at a young age.
When your kitten is confident around people, they are more likely to want human interaction.
4. Sit Down at Your Kitten’s Level
The best approach for winning your kitten’s affection, even though they hate to be pet, is not to insist on interactions.
Instead, encourage the kitten to approach you. Don’t corner, cuddle, or pet your kitten against their will.
You can start by greeting your kitten in a way that allows them to choose how to interact with you.
With your kitten a few feet away from you, crouch or sit down. This is just to make sure you are not high above the kitten, which can be intimidating to them.
If the surface is comfortable, you can even lie down on the ground to make yourself seem less menacing. Cats instinctively fear anything looming over them.
5. Let Them Sniff Your Index Finger
Extend your index finger toward your kitten at their nose level. If they choose to fraternize, your kitten will come up to your finger and touch it with their nose.
If your kitten is comfortable enough in your presence, they might turn their head until your finger is on their cheeks.
This is an invitation for gentle petting and strokes. However, if your kitten shows signs they don’t want to be pet, stop interacting with them.
If your kitten struggles to get out of your grip, they will associate being petted with something unpleasant. This makes them avoid you.
6. Reward Your Kitten With Treats
Wait until your kitten is relaxed, and reward them with a treat they adore. Kittens love treats, and this will encourage them to approach you.
Continue to offer them treats until you can place them on your lap. However, don’t hold on to your kitten yet.
While they are standing on your lap, continue to offer your kitten treats to reinforce the behavior.
So, they will feel free to sit on your lap without being held. Your kitten will now associate your lap with positive experiences.
7. Pet Your Kitten Once or Twice Daily
Some kittens like it when you touch them in particular areas, but others are sensitive about some parts of their body.
Many cats don’t like people touching their paws. If certain areas of your kitten’s body are a no-go zone, plan and prepare them to accept and enjoy being touched.
Pet near the body part your kitten considers sensitive at least once or twice daily.
For example, if your kitten dislikes it when you pet their ears, stroke them on the back of their head or chest.
Gradually, you will be able to stroke near both ears. As I mentioned, don’t forget to offer treats during this training to keep the whole experience positive.
Slowly work up to being able to touch the ear briefly. You can then increase the time you handle the ear.
If done correctly, your kitten soon learns that if they allow you to touch them, it results in something pleasurable. The experience is safe, gentle, and quick.
8. Don’t Misinterpret Your Kitten’s Signals
Petting your little one can be a tricky business. As a cat owner, it is easy to misinterpret your kitten’s signals and end up touching them the wrong way.
It could also be that you touch them in a spot where they don’t like to be touched. For instance, you see your kitten roll on the floor and expose their tummy.
This shows that they trust you. They are showing you a sensitive part of their body that has all their vital organs.
Most people assume this gesture is an invitation to pet their cat’s belly, which is not true. If you try to rub or pet your kitten’s belly, they will probably respond with a scratch or a bite.
You may assume that your kitty is telling you they don’t want to be pet at all. In reality, however, they are telling you they don’t want to be pet right there, right now.
Some cats enjoy belly rubs, but you have to approach it with finesse, only when they are calm and relaxed.
9. Pet Them in Areas Cats Like to Be Pet
Cats like to be pet on the head, cheeks, chin, and neck. Sometimes it’s not that your kitty hates being pet. It could be that you pet them in the wrong places.
Some cats enjoy it when you touch their tails, while others recoil and even experience pain from a tail stroke.
Cats like it when you caress them on these body parts:
- Behind the ears
- Under the chin
Pay close attention to your kitten’s reaction as you pet them. Respect their preferences.
10. Don’t Pet Your Kitten When They’re Stressed
Petting your kitten when they feel stressed is not likely a good idea. Your furry friend might view you as a threat.
One problem is that we often choose the wrong moment to pet our kitties. If your kitten is staring out at a window at some bird, and their tail is swishing hard, it is possible they are frustrated.
If you choose to pet your kitten at this time, this can set them off.
Another threatening situation is when your kitten gets spooked by fireworks. If you pet them at that moment, this can make them feel even more under threat.
Signs of fear include:
- An arched back
- Fur standing on end
- Ears turned back, sideways, or flat against the head
Always choose to pet your kitten when they are calm and relaxed.
11. Deworm Your Kitten
It is good to ensure your kitten’s health through preventive vaccinations and deworming schedules.
Just the same way a child not feeling well can be cranky, a kitten with health issues might not be in the best mood for your petting sessions.
Roundworms are extremely common in kittens and can cause great discomfort. This could be why your kitten does not want you to pet them.
Once your vet determines your kitten has worms, they can put them on a deworming schedule.
12. Do Not Scold or Hit Your Kitten
Just like children, before kittens learn to behave properly they might misbehave. This does not mean you are justified in scolding or hitting your kitten.
If you often scold your kitten or hit them, they feel uneasy around you. It teaches the kitten that you are a scary person.
So, wherever you try to pet them, they jump off because they are constantly on edge, waiting for you to react.
You have to be nice to your kitten all the time for them to feel comfortable and safe around you.
Some Breeds Are More Receptive to Pets
The breed type also matters when it comes to petting your kitten. Some cat breeds are more receptive to pets and hugs than others.
The Siamese is a loving and playful breed that will not resist if you pet them. Another affectionate breed is the Ragdoll, which will always demand attention from you.
The British Shorthair might enjoy the attention but is equally happy to entertain themselves while you are away.
This breed may want to be with you, but not necessarily on your lap. They are just content with you in the same room or beside you as you watch the T.V.
So, just like humans, cats have different personalities too. Based on research, it has been proved that cats’ personalities fall into these two main categories:
- Sociable, confident, and easygoing
- Timid, shy, and unfriendly
Some other studies have indicated that felines can have active, aggressive personalities.
Poorly Socialized Kittens Don’t Like to Be Pet
Don’t be alarmed or disappointed if your kitten doesn’t respond well to your well-meaning petting.
It may be because of their upbringing. If a kitten is not well socialized, they may be reluctant to accept affection.
Kittens learn a lot when they are with their mother and littermates. This is when a kitten develops relationships with other beings in the environment.
If your kitten doesn’t receive enough exposure and contact with people and other cats during the first two months, they develop fears, leading to aggression.
If a kitten is taken away from the mother too soon or not allowed to socialize with other animals and humans, it may not enjoy being pet.
However, this does not mean that your little one will not adapt. It just means they need more support to feel safe around you.
Forced Interaction Can Lead To Aggression
If your kitten doesn’t want to be pet, take things slowly. Don’t try to hold them against their will.
Your kitten will resort to biting or scratching you as a way to defend themselves. These bites or scratches can be dangerous. The wounds can sometimes become infected.