Hugging Cats: Do they like it?

Hello, fellow cat person. The official ‘Hug your cat day’ is coming. Any cat owner must wonder, “Why would anybody create a special day based on a nearly impossible activity?” If you have an adorable cat that is too affectionate and lets you pet it all the time, you must be disagreeing with me already. Make hay while the sun shines, because your beloved pet must be chalking out its ultimate plan to take over the world while you are asleep.

Most cats don’t like being taken in laps, let alone be hugged. Cats are royal creatures of high maintenance. They will let you pet them only when they want.

Why don’t cats like being hugged?

Hundreds of years ago, the ancestors of the cats we own today were majestic outdoor creatures. They united with humans to get the benefits of a reliable food source and a warm barn where they can spend the cold days of winter. Over the years, we invited the cats into our homes.

A cat may appear restricted, but it has been found that they do love their owners. Their ways of expressing love are quite different from what we perceive to be normal.

Here are some reasons why cats are not so fond of being hugged:

  • Cats love to have their choice. Your cat will surely approach you and get closer if it wants to be cuddled. If you notice signs of affection from your beloved pet, you can go ahead and show some extra love to your furry friend.
  • Although a cat’s behavior has changed over the years, it still holds onto some traces of its ancestors’ DNA. This sheds light on the fact that a cat is both a prey and a predator. Feral cats prey on small bugs and rodents; they also get preyed upon by larger predators. When a human swoops down to hug a cat, they see it in the same way as a predator swooping down to catch its prey in the wild. This eventually gives rise to a stress response in cats. When cats are stressed, the fight, flight, or freeze response is activated.
  • Cats do not like it when they feel trapped and restrained. They dislike having no option for escaping. If you want to hug them, try not to pick them up in the beginning. Let their paws be on the ground and hug them lightly.
  • Many cats demonstrate lower endurance for cuddling. If you hug your cat for too long, it will struggle to escape, scratch, or bite to defend itself. Try to have regular but short periods of hugging with your beloved pet.
  • Your cat’s affection level may change from time to time. It might like getting hugged in the morning, but start hissing at you in the evening for the same action.

Do all cats hate being hugged?

According to Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian, there are many breeds of cats that are very affectionate and love to hug. Some of these are Ragdoll, LaPerm, and Burmese. These are popularly known as ‘people’ cats as they create strong bonds with their “hoomans.”

Our little friends show affection in many ways, including meowing at us and rubbing against us. But do they actually hug?

The answer, in a way, is yes. Our feline friends use a hugging motion while hunting and playing. They do it to suppress their ‘victim.’ Cats wrap their front legs around the subject (including your arm), kick with their hind feet and bite. They will probably kick and bite lightly if the ‘subject’ is not an opponent or prey.

When do cats hug?

Cats ‘hug’ for multiple reasons. They mainly do it when they want to protect and feel protected and to show affection. Another time they hug is when they want to capture their prey, which can sometimes include you.

Cats hug to protect

Have you ever seen videos of a mother cat hugging her kittens? Or, older cats hugging each other? This is mainly a behavior derived since their childhood. The mother cat cuddles or hugs her babies to calm them and protect them. The older cats might be cuddling to conserve warmth or guard each other. Cats see humans as their mother or siblings. So, if you see your cats wrapping their arms around your neck or arm with a sense of fear and urgency in their eyes, it is probably seeking for protection.

Cats hug to show affection

A common gesture that all cats do is burying their heads in your arms, shoulders, etc. Another thing that you may have seen is that they wrap their paws around your arms and lightly nibble on your fingers. This is their way of showing affection and love. Cat haters who say that cats don’t have emotions are utterly wrong. Every cat has its individual cuddling style. You can explore many options depending on your way of expressing love for your pet friend. So, cats do look for companionship and bonding through cuddling.

Cats hug when preys are involved

Every cat owner is used to having scratched, bitten, and bleeding arms. You might be petting your cat while it is ‘hugging’ your hand. All of a sudden, it might start to kick and bite your arm. You might think your cat doesn’t like you. The truth is that it has nothing to do with your cat’s love for you. This behavior of cats is completely prey-driven. It is built in their DNA.

Your furry friend perceives you as a playmate and to polish its hunting skills, it might participate in the game of “let’s attack my hooman’s hand.” You can still be happy knowing that even these games symbolize trust and affection.

What are the signs that show your cat isn’t a hugger?

When you try to hug your cat, you can check if it likes the hug or not. You should look out for stress signs while hugging your cat.

Few of the obvious signs are dilating its pupils, trying to escape, hissing, swishing tail, freezing, scratching, growling, etc. Other signs of stress are extreme vocalization, diarrhea, hiding, etc. These signs indicate that your cat wants to be left alone and it is definitely not a hugger.

How to hug your cat without inducing stress?

Whether you accept it or not, your cat already knows who the boss is. It will let you cuddle only if it is in the right mood. If you still wish to initiate a hug, you should advance with caution.

Consider the followings:


Learning your cat’s personality will help you to determine whether you should hug it or not. The personality of your cat decides whether it likes being hugged or not. Along with this, your regular handling will persuade the cat to be more affectionate. However, some cats will never want to be confined and held irrespective of how much affection you shower upon them. Other cats will snuggle or cuddle with you while purring constantly.


Don’t try to surprise your cats as they don’t like it. You are likely to get injured if you try to ambush. Ensure that your cat can see you approaching for a hug. To understand your cat’s mood, pet it on the back a few times. Scratch the backside of its head and notice if it seems to be interested. If it welcomes your action, you can try to pick it up for a hug.

Your action

Too tight hugs can make your cat uncomfortable. Try to hold your cat gently so that it does not feel restrained. You might want to squeeze the fluffy furball, but you should avoid that. You must allow it to get comfortable first. If it purrs or rubs itself against you, it might be getting ready for the hug. However, put it down if it starts to struggle.


Did you think that your hug time would last for hours? Your cat will not approve of that. You should also learn the signs that show the affection time with your cat is over. If its pupils are dilated or its tail is twitched, it must be preparing to leave. Don’t get shocked to see your loving cat turning into a furious creature in moments. It is all normal.

Parting words…

Being a cat owner is not easy if you keep a long list of expectations from your pet. However, if you love your cat, you will do everything to make it happy. That’s what will make you a ‘true’ crazy cat person. This “Hug your cat day,” respect your cat’s boundaries and hug it only if it likes it. Check out all the signs before you attempt to embrace it. Happy Purring!

Author’s Bio:
Shirley Brown is a cat behavior specialist and CPM Homework helper. She also runs a foster home for cats. She has worked with several famous cat humans like the executives of the popular brand MyAssignmenthelp. Shirley is also an avid reader and loves to cook for her family on weekends.

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5 replies
  1. eva adams
    eva adams says:

    My cat loves hugs. It wants them all the time, and it gets very inconvenient. It will get up on the couch, come over to my right side, stand on my right thigh, start purring, and lean into me. Sometimes I will be in the middle of doing something: crocheting a scarf, eating a taco, working on a puzzle, etc. I have to say, “No, man, not right now.” So he sits there and keeps bopping me on the head with his left paw. “C’mon, brother, give me a break.” No chance. He will keep bopping me unless someone else calls him over for a hug. When I am free for hugging, once he leans into me, I give him the “go ahead,” and he crosses my lap and flops, and I catch him quickly and bring him up to my chest where he settles in under my chin. If I don’t hug him for at least five minutes, he comes back and starts bopping me on the head again.


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