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C2003-39

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat Crystal likes to have her back scratched – at least she seems to. She stands while I scratch her lower back near her tail, but then she suddenly turns and bats my hand with her paws. What is she trying to say?

Christopher Responds

I think she’s trying to tell you not to scratch where you’ve been scratching. Perhaps she wants to be stroked all over, and not scratched so vigorously in just one area.

We cats are individuals. I like being petted gently, especially on my cheeks and belly. My brother likes his whiskers and lips scratched fairly vigorously, and my sister likes to have the area between her eyes and ears rubbed.

Some cats like to be petted for only a short period of time – just a couple of strokes. You’ll know Crystal is getting tired of the repeated petting if she swishes her tail or flattens her ears. Then, stop petting her immediately.

Researchers studied a small group of cats to see where they liked to be petted. For most, the favorite place was on the face between the eyes and ears.

Many cats also seemed to enjoy being petted on the area between the chin and the lips. However, most cats disliked being petted near the base of the tail where you have been scratching Crystal.

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