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Why Do Cats Shake After You Pet Them – What It Means

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Cats are widely known for having big personalities, and they are notorious for liking to be in control at all times. Some pet owners joke that they don’t own their cats, their cats own them. Cats seem to enjoy being petted to various degrees depending on their personality, but you might have sometimes noticed they shake after you finish petting them, and wondered why that is. So, why do cats shake after you pet them?

Some cats are bothered if their fur is out of place and shake to realign after being petted. They may also be adjusting to your scent or in rare cases feel slight discomfort after being petted. Petting a cat too much can lead to overstimulation. 

Your cat may also shake while you have been petting them to let you know that they are done with the petting session and would like you to stop. Sometimes cats shake and then walk away to signal how they are feeling emotionally.

Notice if your cat is only shaking after you pet them or has a tremor that takes places more often. If that is the case, they may have another underlying medical condition. Frequent shaking and shivering is a sign that your cat could have hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

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What Do Cats Feel When You Pet Them

The sad truth is that the data indicates cats get less pleasure from being petted than we all probably thought. That isn’t to say your cat never appreciates the attention. It’s all about who is doing the petting and what kind of mood your cat is in.

The best time to pet a cat is when they are feeling happy and relaxed. This is when cats are most receptive to physical touch and typically will respond positively to you petting them.

While we often assume cats love to be touched, not a ton of research has been done to scientifically prove what cats think about human affection in particular. It’s usually easy to tell from your cat’s body language how they feel about a particular petting situation.

Cats may respond negatively to being touched if they are in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. Some cats are very comfortable around strangers and prefer affection from people less familiar to them than their owners. The complete opposite could be said for other more reserved cats who only are comfortable around their owners.

The research indicates that if you are going to pet your cat, they prefer to be petted around their ears and head area. Cats typically strongly dislike anyone petting them near their tail area or on their tail. 

Why Do Cats Get Mad When You Pet Them

Some cats are very affectionate, and others seem to prefer to be left alone. If your cat is not a fan of affection, you will probably notice rather quickly that they shy away or attempt to get away from you while being petted.

There are a lot of factors that can influence whether your cat likes to be petted. If you rescued or adopted your cat, there is a lot of history you don’t know about your cat and their past. Sometimes there might be past trauma from a previous owner or experience that causes your cat not to enjoy being touched.

If you adopt your cat while it is still a kitten, it is easier to introduce petting and more affection to your cat from a young age. If your cat is older and is not accustomed to affection, the odds are it may not be as receptive right away.

Does Petting Hurt Cats

Gentle petting does not hurt your cat. Cats all react very differently to being touched, so while they may indicate they do not love being petted, you are not in any danger of hurting your animal.

While a gentle pat should not harm your cat in any way, there are cases where physical touch might be bothering your animal. One of the most classic examples of this is if you have infants or small children in your house.

Typically, little ones do not know how to interact with a cat in a gentle way, and might accidentally end up pulling on their tail or being a little too rough with their petting. If a cat has encountered a little kid who was rough while petting them in the past, your cat may be shy or hesitant around other kids or even unfamiliar adults.

When petting your cat, you want to gently stroke their fur in the direction if naturally lies. Both short-haired and long-haired cats typically enjoy a light scratching, especially on the underbelly or under their chins.

Do Cats Actually Like Being Stroked

In a recent study, conflicting data was surrounding whether cats enjoy being petted or whether it stresses them out. Research indicates that how cats feel about being stroked has a lot to do with their mood while you are attempting to pet them.

So while it may seem like you petting your animal is what is causing them to be stressed, it is more likely the case that there are other external elements that are bothering your pet. For example, maybe your cat is hungry and was expecting breakfast. Or perhaps your cat recently heard a noise that put them on guard.

Cats are always hyperaware of their surroundings, so the odds are that if they seem agitated while you are stroking their fur, it is probably not related to you touching them, but rather something else going on that has bothered them instead.

Can You Pet A Cat Too Much?

While we wish it were not true, there can always be too much of anything. Even if both you and your cat love belly rub time, there is a limit to how much you should be petting and stroking your cat daily.

Petting your cat too frequently can lead to overstimulation for your animal. Similarly, to most people, your cat needs some time to decompress and be alone throughout the day. Cats are notorious for needing a lot of sleep, and they also really value some personal time to sit by themselves.

When you pet a cat too much, they might start feeling smothered by the attention and act out from overstimulation. There are specific behaviors you can look out for to tell if your cat is acting out as a result of this.  

Look for the signs that your cat has had enough attention for the time being. They might begin to irritably twitch or shake their tail. Also, keep an eye out for your cat pushing their ears back. When you see a cat with their ears pulled back, you should know something is off, and your cat is either stressed or annoyed.

While cats enjoy human connection and attention, the truth is that they more realistically do not want to be petted around the clock. The key to ensuring your cat continues to love being petted is to make sure you keep the activity on your cat’s terms.

Give them lots of love and affection when they are interested, and when they show signs, they are ready for some space, let them be. This will allow the love your cat, and you share to stay healthy and intact!

Final Thoughts

While petting a cat can make them shake, it’s likely not due to anything you did wrong. Most cats are particular with how they are handled. What may work for one cat when it comes to petting might not be comfortable for the other.