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Why Does My Cat Move Away When I Pet Her? (Petrified?)

If your cat is moving away from you when you attempt to pet it, you may be frustrated and wondering why this is happening…

Why does my cat move away when I pet her?

Your cat may move away when you pet it for several reasons such as fear, poorly socialized, wants to lead you somewhere, just doesn’t want to be touched at that time, or it’s in pain. There are more, but these are some of the top reasons for this behavior.

So, now you know. But, what other reasons are there for this? How can you prevent this from happening? How do you know if your cat wants to be petted? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

7 Reasons why a cat may move when petted:

Why does my cat move away when I pet her.

A white cat hiding away and looking scared.

Earlier I briefly mentioned some of the potential reasons why your cat may move away from you when you attempt to pet it. Therefore, in this section I will provide a detailed explanation of each one as well providing more reasons:

01. Fear

If your cat moves away from you then there is a chance that it fears you. If this is the case, it could be based on the fact that it is still working you out. This is mainly applicable to new cats.

It can take some time for a new cat to settle in and feel comfortable with you. But, be patient, if this is the case, because it is likely to build a strong bond with you with time.

02. Anxiety

If your cat is anxious it can act reserved in this way. In fact, it can go in two drastic directions: aggression (click here for my best solution for this), or hiding away.

In this context, I am addressing the latter, hiding away. Or, in your situation, it may be moving away when you try to pet it.

03. Bad experiences

If your cat has had a bad experience as a young cat or kitten, it can affect its behavior going forward. Meaning, it could start moving from you, even if you attempt to pet it.

This is common in adopted cats from homes that have had a difficult history. These experiences can knock their confidence and make them likely to feel reserved.

04. Just bad timing

Cats, like us humans. can be complicated and unpredictable. You may be confused that you just spent some quality time with your cat a few hours earlier, and now it’s moving away, right?

There could be various reasons for this. It may just literally not be in the mood for petting at that time, and that is OK, right? If this is the case, it’s worth trying again later to see if it’s a temporary, or new long-term issue.

05. Poor socialization

If you have a cat that was removed from its mother and littermates too early it can cause confidence issues making it pull away from you even if you mean well. This is what people mean when they say “poor socialization”.

This is one of the main reasons why it is advised that you let a kitten spend enough time with their mother cat (click here if the mother is not receptive to its kitten) so they are ready to socialize.

06. It’s in pain

If your cat is in pain you may notice that it acts differently, like moving from you. This pain can be for many reasons such as an infection, or something more serious.

Cats can react to pain in many different ways such as hiding away, getting defensive or backing away from you. This is often clear when you have a cat that is usually friendly and clingy, then all of a sudden gets reserved and backs away.

07. Wants to lead somewhere

Sometimes a cat will just want to lead you somewhere. This could be because they want to get fed, need some water, etc.

Cats know that they need to get your attention somehow and meowing, even if it’s a deep one, will not always cut it. Therefore jumping in front of you and leading you may be the best way.

How can you prevent your cat from moving when you pet it?

If your cat is moving from you when you pet it there are some things that you can do to prevent it, depending on the root cause of its behavior:

01. Distraction

If your cat is pulling away, you can try and distract it with a cool toy (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad). This will help to relax it and give you a chance to pet it.

I get it, this is a short-term fix, you may be thinking. But, the idea is to use this a few times until you build trust and make it feel comfortable with you in general.

This will not work with all issues, such as pain, but if it’s just a trust or fear issue, this may help and easy to try.

02. Locate the reason for their pain

If your cat has some pain, as discussed, it may act like this. Therefore, you need to spend the time to work out the root cause of this pain and get that dealt with immediately.

For example, has some form of infection? Then, you need to take it to the vets for a check and see what can be done to clear it up, so you can move on.

How do you know if a cat wants to be petted?

A cat rolled-over getting stroked.

A cat rolled over getting stroked.

A cat will make it clear when they want to be petted. For example, they may lean in with their head. This is their body language for you to pet them. Or they may brush against you and purr.

Ultimately, what you are looking for is a clear sign from your cat that it wants you to pet it, rather than jumping into pet it with no signals presented to first, are you with me?

Why does my cat clean itself immediately after being petted?

A cat may clean itself after you pet it because it wants to rid itself of the scent you placed on it. For example, you may have petted a friend’s cat, came home, and then petted them.

Cats have a keen sense of smell and can detect something on you without you even knowing. It may seem weird to you because you do not have the same skill with your nose.

And, let’s be honest, we humans don’t care much for minute scent, right?

Why do cats hate being held?

Some cats hate being held because they may be older cats and are not used to your need to pet them. Or, they feel that the act of being held is not comfortable for them.

If it’s the latter, not comfortable, this could be this makes them feel restricted when they are cupped in as you attempt to hold them. This can also stem from the fact you, or a previous owner never held them correctly.

If this happens then your cat will find it hard to enjoy being held by anyone else, even if they are a champion at holding cats.

Lindsey Browlingdon