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Why Does My Cat Avoid My Hand? (3 Ways To Change This)

If your cat is avoiding your hand you may take it personal. Also, it can leave you wondering what the reasons for this behavior…

Why Does My Cat Avoid My Hand? 

When a cat becomes anxious, they will often avoid your hand and any affection you try giving them. Changes in the household, introducing new pets, or bringing in new furniture can all cause your cat to become stressed.  

So, now you know. But, do cats really like being petted? How can I get my cat to appreciate me petting it? Why does my cat seem to like being around me, but shut me down for touching it? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Do Cats like Being Petted? 

Cat sitting on lap.

Cat sitting on lap.

Every cat is different so some cats might like to be petted while others do not. Your cat’s affection all depends on how your cat was raised. Typically, the more human interaction your cat receives as a kitten, the more friendly and affectionate they will be in their adult lives.

How Can I Get My Cat to Like My Hand Petting it?  

There are many ways you can increase the chances that your cat enjoys being petted. Not every method will work for every cat so always judge your cat’s body language when you try a new method. 

Calm Your Kitty Down

Sometimes kitties get overstimulated when you give them too much affection. When you have overstimulated your cat, calm your cat down them by giving them a rest.  

Respect Your Cat 

If your cat begins to show disgruntled body language, immediately stop petting them. Respecting their space helps your cat feel more comfortable in their home. Mutual respect can help your cat develop trust toward you.

Create a Safe Space 

Create a comfortable safe space for your kitty that they can retreat to when they feel threatened. This helps your cat trust you when they realize you have dedicated a special place to them. It is highly recommended that this space is enclosed.

Implement Positive Reinforcement  

Positive reinforcement is a great method for getting your cat to let you pet them. Positive reinforcement rewards your cat’s good behavior. Every time your cat lets you pet them, reward them with a treat. 

Eventually, your cat will most likely begin to enjoy being pet by you. In fact, they may even approach you for pets! The amount of time your pet will take to adjust varies from cat to cat.

Why Does My Cat Want to Be Near Me but Not Touched? 

Cat on couch.

Cat on couch.

Cats may love your company but hate being petted for many reasons like jealousy or you interpreting their body language incorrectly.

Cats Get Jealous Very Easily 

Cats get easily jealous when they see you forming relationships with other pets. Close relationships with other cats, or other pets, can make them envious.  

This is because most cats want your undivided attention, even if you are not petting them! That is the main reason a lot of cats prefer single-cat households. 

Petting Your Cat Wrong  

Cats can be great company, but they may dislike being touched because you are petting them wrong. That might mean you are petting them too rough or somewhere they do not like.

Cat Body Language Was Misinterpreted 

When cat’s body language is being interpreted wrong, they can become combative when you touch them.

Why Does My Cat Flinch When I Try to Pet its Head? 

Moving quickly toward a cat often triggers their instinctual response to retreating. There are many other reasons your cat might respond this way, too. Your cat may flinch because they are traumatized by a former event. Cats become fearful when they associate you with negative behaviors like punishment or loudness.  

Reasons your cat might flinch when you try to pet its head:  

  • An injury or health problem on their head
  • Past trauma
  • Uncertainty or unfamiliarity with its new owner
  • Recent grooming
  • Resentment (because of punishment) or fear toward you
  • Prefer smelling a hand first
  • Dislikes being pet on the head

Why Does My Cat Ask to be Petted, then Bite Me? 

Overstimulation is the most common reason cats love being pet but end up biting you. That means they are ready for the cuddle session to end. Your furry friend has been petted for too long! 

Signs your cat is done being petted:  

  • Scratching 
  • Biting 
  • Wrapping around your arm 
  • Licking 
  • “Love bites” 

Many owners convince themselves “love bites” are okay but that is far from the truth. When your kitty companion starts nibbling on you, that is a sign they are getting fed up.  

Why is My Cat Swatting ; Biting When I Reach for It? 

There are many reasons why cats swat when you reach for them.

You Pet Your Cat in The Wrong Area 

Petting a cat in the wrong area can anger your cat. This happens because your cat is sensitive there or they do not like that area being touched. If they swat when petting an area of their body, just avoid that area in the future.

Your Cat Suffered Previous Trauma 

Previous trauma can be tolling on your cat which is why they may swat when you try to reach for them. Respecting boundaries is important to establish a relationship with a traumatized cat. 

Strays, older cats, and former foster cats are known for having trauma. Forming close relationships with these cats can take effort. 

Your Cat Has Health Issues 

Health issues may cause your cat to swat at you when reaching toward them. Touching a cat with sensitive bones can be painful just like skin irritation. If your cat shows signs of ill health or injury, immediately take them to an emergency vet.

Your Cat Feels Unsafe 

When a cat feels unsafe, the last thing they want to do is be touched. Cats will swat at you if you get too close to them when they are uncomfortable. Feeling uncertain about you or their surroundings can put your cat on edge. If they are acting this way, it is best to give them their space. 

Why is My Cat Sniffing My Hand Then Swatting it? 

Cats always have a reason for strange behavior. When your cat sniffs your hand (Click here if its nudging it) and swats it, they might be expressing uncertainty. Socializing your cat and using positive reinforcement typically gets rid of this behavior.  

Are Cats Sensitive to Certain Areas on Their Body? 

Every cat is different so you might notice that your cat is sensitive to being petted on some parts of its body. This can happen for many reasons like bone sensitivity or skin irritation. It can also occur when cats become anxious or are stressed by change.  

Reasons your cat will not let you pet them on certain parts of their body are: 

  • Bone sensitivity 
  • Trauma 
  • Anxiety or stress 
  • Skin sensitivity 

Typically, there are many solutions to any problem your pet is happy whether that is skin sensitivity or trauma. 

Why Should You NOT Force Your Hand on a Cat That Avoids You? 

Forcing petting on your cat will make your cat fearful of you. By respecting your cat’s boundaries, they will be more trusting of you. 

Furthermore, a cat can become even more traumatized by forced hand contact. This can unroot negative memories and cause your cat to resent you. 

The only time that you should force hands on a cat is when there is a medical emergency. Otherwise, let your cat come to you when they are comfortable. 

Why are cats so unpredictable?

Cats are unpredictable pets and that is why a stressed cat might run when you try to pet them. They might also hiss or swat defensively if they think you are a threat to them. This behavior does not mean your cat dislikes you. It just means your cat is acting on its instincts.

Lindsey Browlingdon