Tomorrow is Hug Your Cat day, a day celebrated far and wide by cat owners hugging their struggling felines against their will. As a general rule it would seem that cats do not like being hugged! The classic image that comes to mind is the owner picking up the cat, the cat submitting with a sour look on it’s face, struggling and then being let go. But do some cats actually like being hugged?
Some cats do like being hugged! Several breeds especially love to receive affection from their two-legged caretakers. Burmese, ragdoll and the Cornish rex are all breeds of cat that are especially affectionate with their owners. The more affectionate cat breeds will go out of their way to be with their people. They love being stroked, petted and kissed. With regular domesticated short hairs and long hairs, it’s more of a luck of the draw. Some love affection and hugs, and some are more aloof.
If your cat stiffens up, tries to run away, or starts making low growling noises when you try to hug them, they probably don’t like hugs! And that’s perfectly ok. Make sure that you are doing what your cat is comfortable with, not forcing them out of their comfort zone. That’s a good way to get a scratch or two.
The best way to go about hugging your cat is to start of slowly. Don’t wake them up or come up behind them and startle them. Make sure they are calm and relaxed. Start by petting them, scratching them, or even brushing them if your cat really enjoys that. Some cats really like when you brush their cheeks, so you could try that.
Then gently pull them into a hug. Don’t grab them or hold them too tightly. Don’t hold onto them if they struggle, just let them go. An important part of them being comfortable with you is knowing that they can get away if they need to! Cats are all about having escape routes. That is why some of them don’t like the covered litterboxes, they only have on entrance and exit. If your cat lets you hug them, give them praise and scratches and even treats to reinforce that hugging is a good experience!
If your cat isn’t receptive to a hug, give them some time and space. Some cats just need to be affectionate on their own terms. You should especially give them time if they are a rescue cat, and you don’t know what may have happened to them in the past.