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Why Does My Cat Kick Me When I Pet Him? (Bad Handling?)

If your cat has kicked you while you were simply trying to pet it, this may have you confused and wondering what its problem is…

Why does my cat kick me when I pet him?

The three main reasons why a cat may kick you when you attempt to pet it is it just wants to play with you, rejecting your hand, or simply practicing its bunny kicks. Younger cats or kittens are known to be the most playful and therefore, you may see them doing this to play with you.

So, now you know. But, what should you do when this happens? Should you discipline it? How can you prevent this, if it’s being too aggressive? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

3 reasons why your cat kicks when you pet it:

Why does my cat kick me when I pet him?

A cat looking defensive on a bed.

Earlier I briefly mentioned three common reasons for your cat to kick you while you try to pet it. In this section I will explain each reason in more detail:

01. Playing games

Sometimes, or shall I say in most cases, your cat will kick as a way to play games with you. Meaning, they will wait for you to put your hand close to them, then roll over (click here if this happens during petting) and wrestle with your hand. This is their way of just having fun and bonding with you.

If this is happening, just enjoy it, unless they are getting too aggressive. And, if that is the case then you need to think twice about entertaining it.

02. Does not want to be handled

Sometimes a cat will give you a kick like this to warn you to stop. They may feel that you are handling them incorrectly or they just do not want to be handled at all. Some cat owners make the mistake of playing too rough and crossing the mark.

In some cases a cat may roll over, offering their belly, then the owner will assume their belly want a rub and then get a swift kick. This is confusing, I get it, but some cats don’t like this.

03. Practicing its bunny kicks

Bunny kicks, like kangaroo kicks, can be used by cats as a form of gameplay. So, they will often roll over and play with you. While they do this it can be a cunning attempt to just practice their bunny kicks.

Realistically there is no way to be sure if it’s practicing like this or just wanting to play. But, either way, it’s not a big issue, right?

What should you do when your cat kicks you?

If your cat is kicking like this you may be wondering what you should do about it when it happens. But, your response depends a lot on their intent with the kick. Therefore, in this section, I will explain:

Just playing?

If your cat has just kicked you with the intent of just playing, there is not much you need to do. Meaning, you either play along or back off because you are not in the mood, no big issue.

Using teeth & claws?

However, if your cat is using its teeth, or claws, while it does this, it’s a whole different ball game, right? In this case, you need to stop whatever you are doing and move away. The idea is to let the cat know you are not happy with it, but not to get aggressive with it.

Why not get aggressive? Well, it may satisfy your mood in that second but aggressive feedback never does well in the long term. So, avoid these responses.

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

So, now you understand why your cat may be kicking you like this. So, in this section I will explain what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future:

01. Offer it a toy

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Firstly, you can offer the cat a toy (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad) instead. This will take you out of the game and substitute the toy in. This way it can do what it likes to this toy and keep itself entertained.

02. Distraction

Another trick that you can do is to distract your cat. This can be done by throwing a cat toy ball (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad) in the opposite direction. This will send it off to play with that instead.

03. Tire it out

Sometimes a cat will act like this when they have too much energy. This can happen when you have an indoor cat that is not getting enough exercise. To get around this spend some quality time playing with it to help it burn its energy.

This is even more effective at night, just before you go to sleep (click here if it prefers to sleep under your bed). this way it can reduce the chance of it waking you up in the early hours of the morning.

Why do cats bunny kick you?

Cats will bunny kick you because they just want to play, and this kick is one of the ways they wrestle with you while they roll around on the floor. It is intended to be a relaxed and fun tie for them in this context.

However, it is worth mentioning that this bunny kick can also be used as an aggressive way to tell you to stop what you are doing, so you will need to look at the body language to check to see what it means at that time.

Should you play fight with your kitten?

Play fighting with your kitten is not a good idea. It may seem fun, at the moment, but they are not that good at controlling their teeth and claws and can get over-excited. This can also train them to play rough as they get older leaving you with a behavioral problem to deal with in the future.

Some kittens may be fine with this, but it’s not worth taking the chance with it. Especially if your kitten is not initiating these games.

Should you try to pet a cat’s belly if they roll over?

You should not try to pet your cat’s belly when it rolls over. This is because not all cats will appreciate this. The confusing thing about this is that your cat may even roll over, which makes you assume they want it rubbed. But, don’t be tempted, it may just want to be on it’s back (what if it arches it? click here).

The problem is, if you rub its belly at that time it may scratch or bite you because it did not want you to do that to it.

Should you discipline your cat for kicking you?

You should not discipline your cat for kicking you. That means avoiding any negative responses including shouting, pushing, or shoving. Instead, be calm, move away from your cat and make it clear that you no longer wish to play with it right now.

Then you can follow up with positive reinforcement to train it to do what you want it to do. This includes using rewards, such as cat treats (Click here to see the price, on Amazon #Ad), to make them tempted to do what you want to get rewarded.

Kicking you because they were removed from their mother too young?

Why wont my cat wean her kittens?

A white mother cat feeding her kittens.

Your cat may well kick aggressively because it has separation issues. Sometimes cats are not socialized enough, meaning they may have been taken from their mother and littermates too early. When this happens some cats may respond in this way.

Ideally, your cat will be with its mother enough to be weaned (click here if she isn’t doing this) and then take it up to the point that it is ready to be independent.

Do some cats kick and play with their prey?

A cat may wrestle and kick its prey. And, this may not be to kill their prey, it could be to just play with them in their grasp. This sounds a bit odd, and maybe disgusting to us, but to cats, it may be deemed as business as usual.

Lindsey Browlingdon