By October 10, 2013 Read More →

Go Ahead, Pet Your Cat

Elsa Clair and Calvin demonstrate how to tell when cats like each other.

Elsa Clair and Calvin demonstrate how to tell when cats like each other.

This. This is why you shouldn’t trust everything you read. Check out these recent headlines.

New York PostYour cat is stressed out by your perpetual petting.

Huffington PostCats Get Stressed When Stroked, Who Knew?

Red Orbit: An Unstroked Kitty is a Happier Cat, Says Study

And even, sadly, Science Daily: Stroking Could Stress Out Your Cat

If you’re a cat lover like me, a quick glance at these headlines may have sent you straight to The Guilts, as you ponder whether you’ve been torturing poor Mittens every time you pet her.

I’m here to tell you that you can come back from your guilt trip. Take a moment and go pet your cat. The one that is sitting on your lap. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Now, here’s what’s really going on, if you get past the headlines and learn the story is really about. You ready? It’s earth shattering. Some cats–the ones that just tolerate being stroked, the ones you have to chase after to pet–get stressed when you do that.

That’s it. The cats that like you to pet them, and believe me, you know who they are because–yes, I’ll wait again while you pet him–they tell you they like it. In no uncertain cat-like terms.

This all began with a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavoir, entitled, “Are cats (Felils catus) from multi-cat households more stressed? Evidence from assessment of fecal glucocorticoid metabolite analysis,” by D. Ramos et al. Feel free to go direct to the source and read the study.

The sad thing is all these reports missed the entire point, the real news that came out of the study. It has been thought that cats that live in a multi-cat household are more stressed because they are solitary creatures that like to be Left Alone. Instead, what scientists are finding is that some cats actually like hanging out with others, which is no surprise to those of us who often find their cats piled up in a heap of happy felines. Even better, the cats that don’t like to be petted, but aren’t antisocial enough to run away–the ones who don’t really like being touched by humans–do much better in a houseful of cats because the people tend to pet the cats that actually like it and leave the others alone.


So the takeaway here is to pet the cats that liked to be touched–and let the others be. Everyone will be much happier for it.

And be careful what you read in the media.

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