Stroking Cats – “You Can Stroke me Here, but Not There”

Stroking Cats – “You Can Stroke me Here, but Not There”

Scientific examine investigating the place and by whom cats wish to be stroked reveals fascinating findings…

How true are cartoons just like the one under? Do they really mirror a cat’s preferences?

cat body
Image modified from: www.pet-happy.com

While most house owners will agree that cats wish to be stroked across the face space, there’s much less settlement over different areas. For occasion some house owners report their cat loves being stroked on their again simply in entrance of the bottom of the tail whereas others report it as a ‘hazard zone’.

To attempt to get some scientific proof behind this nice debate, a gaggle of scientists led by International Cat Care’s very personal behaviour knowledgeable ‘Dr Sarah Ellis’ carried out a examine which was not too long ago revealed in a Special Issue on cats within the ‘Applied Animal Behaviour Science’ Journal.

What have been the goals of the examine?

In the examine they investigated the behavioural responses of cats, after they have been stroked on totally different components of their physique and by totally different individuals. They aimed to seek out out the place cats loved being stroked (or not) and whether or not the individual doing the stroking had any affect on the cats’ response (examine 1). They have been additionally considering investigating whether or not the bottom of tail space is a “sure stroke me” or a “no manner” zone and if the reply relied on what areas have been stroked earlier than it. For occasion do cats have to be stroked on the pinnacle and down the again earlier than touching the bottom of tail, so as to discover it pleasurable? (examine 2)

Study 1: Influence of handler familiarity and physique area stroked

Thirty-four cats have been stroked on eight totally different areas on their physique, each by their house owners and by somebody unfamiliar to them (an experimenter). Some of those areas comprise specialised scent glands that cats use in communication with each other:

Peri-oral gland web site (space across the lips, chin and cheeks)

Temporal gland web site (areas between the eyes and ears)Cat Handling.docx

Caudal gland web site (space across the base of the tail)

Cat Handling.docx

The remaining 5 areas didn’t comprise any specialised gland websites:

  • Top of the pinnacle
  • Back of the neck
  • Chest and throat
  • Top of the again
  • Middle of the again

Study 2: Influence of order of physique areas stroked

Twenty cats had three totally different physique areas stroked in two totally different orders; one concerned stroking the pinnacle, then the neck to the center of the again and ending with the bottom of tail. The different order was the reverse.

What did the research measure?

A coding system was used to establish behaviours and physique language that will be thought-about indicative of whether or not a cat disliked the stroking (detrimental behaviours; resembling biting, flattening ears and tail swishing) or a cat loved the stroking (optimistic behaviours; resembling facial rubbing the handler, kneading with paws and sluggish blinking).

The cats have been videoed whereas being stroked and any detrimental or optimistic behaviours have been recognized and recorded. Each cat was given a optimistic response rating and a detrimental response rating.

What have been the outcomes?

  • The biggest detrimental responses occurred when cats have been stroked on the base of their tails.
  • Being stroked by the proprietor (when contemplating all of the scores for all of the physique areas collectively) led to extra detrimental responses than being stroked by an unfamiliar individual
  • The order of areas being stroked (from head to base of tail or from base of tail to move) had no affect over the detrimental responses proven.

So the jury is out! Stroking cats on the base of the tail seems to not be warmly acquired by all cats.

What do the outcomes imply?

It was a giant shock that cats within the examine really appeared to choose being stroked by a stranger quite than their very own house owners, as cats have a tendency to order shut bodily interactions for these they view as pleasant and acquainted.

Before leaping to any huge conclusions nonetheless, listed here are some attainable explanations for why the cats within the examine appear to have most well-liked being stroked by a stranger:

  • Cats might have expectations of how stroking is generally carried out by their house owners. In this standardised set-up, these expectations might not have been met – this might have led to cats feeling annoyed and thus exhibiting detrimental behaviours.
  • Cats might have earlier detrimental associations about contact from their house owners. For instance, beforehand, it might have concerned not-so-nice interactions, resembling giving remedy.
  • The variability in detrimental scores was additionally a lot better when cats have been stroked by their proprietor, suggesting that house owners are more likely to work together with their cats in very alternative ways, some resulting in detrimental outcomes and a few resulting in optimistic outcomes.

Moral of the story: be taught what sort of stroking your cat likes (if any) and keep on with it. If you’re interacting with an unknown cat, greatest to keep away from the bottom of its tail… simply in case…

We have an interest to know, how and the place does your cat wish to be stroked?

Reference for the examine:

Ellis SLH, Thompson H, Guijaro C, Zulch HE. (2015) The affect of physique area, handler familiarity and order of area dealt with on the home cat’s response to being stroked. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 173, 60-67.

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