Why Does My Cat Flinch When I Pet Her? Here’s Why!

There are lots of unusual things that we see on our pet cat. Some of them are fun to watch while some are not. One of the unusual things owners recognize from their cats is flinching while they pet their cats. However, what is the main reason behind this? Why do cats flinch when you try to pet them? Let me answer that question. 

Why does my cat flinch when I pet her? When your pet cat flinches when you try to pet it, this could be a character trait or sign that your pet cat was abused before. Your pet cat flinches when you try to pet him/her because your cat thinks that you are an abuser too even though you are not. 

You have to stop petting your pet cat when it flinches when you try to reach it out. The best way to execute is to put your hand in front of your cat. If your cat rubs his/her head against your hand, unfurl your fingers. 

You must start at the chin and work your way to your cat’s head. When you execute this consistently, it will mitigate flinching over time. However, if the flinching has not been abolished even though you already did everything, then it could be your cat’s personality. If it is in your cat’s personality, then you can’t do something about it. 

Is It Normal For Cats To Flinch When You Pet Them?

Now that you know the reason why your cat flinches when you try to pet him/her, let us move on to the next question if it is normal for your pet cat to flinch. 

To be honest with you, it depends on the cat. To determine if it is normal for cats to flinch when you pet them, you must look at their past. The cat may be abused by his/her past owner. However, if the cat was not abused before, but still flinches when you pet it, then it is natural for that cat. 

Every cat in the world is different. Some cats love humans while some are timid even though they are already exposed to humans. If your cat flinches when you try to pet it, you must know the reason why it flinches so that you can execute what is good for your pet cat. Whether your cat flinches because it was abused before or it is natural, you must be patient with your flinching cat. 

Why Does My Cat Duck When I Attempt To Pet It?

There are lots of reasons why your pet cat tries to duck when you pet him/her. The first reason is, your cat is new to the house and not a kitten, you must understand that it might be a victim of mistreatment or abuse in the past. However, some cats duck because they are naturally skittish and shy.

Reasons Why Your Cat May Fear You

Below are the reasons why your pet cat may be flinching when you pet him/her and are scared of you. Let us check them out!

The Cat Have No Social Skills

If kittens aren’t socialized to humans between two and seven weeks old, these kittens have an aversion to touching and don’t understand that touching can be a pleasurable experience for them. If you have an old cat with this kind of problem, you can teach them social skills with the use of training. However, they might not be very social compared to cats that get used to humans when they were still kittens.

The Cat Have Been Abused Before

If the cat has been in intense situations, like abuse, mistreatment, or discipline, the cat may develop a fear of humans in general. Yes! The cat may still be scared of you even if you give it some food. You should not be the one who punishes the cat. If the cat was feral, the cat may never have had an experience with humans, which makes them scared of humans. It will take patience and care to calm the abused cat.

The Cat Is Shy Or Timid Naturally

Some cats have shy personalities. These cats don’t like touching humans and can be very cold to you. It does not mean that your pet cat hates you. It’s just how they are, so be patient if you have a cat like this. You cannot do something about this since this attitude can be in-born.

Where Does A Cat Like To Be Petted?

The following areas I will list down below are where most cats like to be pet best. When you pet them here, they will surely like it!

  • Under the chin
  • Behind the whiskers 
  • Behind the ears
  • Tail (some cats only)

I know that it can be tempting to rub the belly of your cat. However, never touch the belly of your pet cat unless it’s offered to you. Also, most cats don’t like touching their paws. The reason why is because their paws are their asset if there are any predators. They don’t like their paws to be restrained. You have to see what your cat prefers and touch your cat there to make the petting session positive for your pet cat. 

How To Stop Your Cat From Flinching When You Pet Her?

There are lots of ways to stop your pet cat from flinching when you pet him/her. It will take a little persistence and patience. You must first observe your cat and understand its unique personality and preferences. Do what they like the most and avoid what they don’t like.

Approach Your Cat Under Its Chin With Your Hand

Offer your hand closed to your pet cat and allow your cat to smell your hand. In a slow and gentle movement, open your closed fist, but in front of your cat’s head. Allow your cat to sniff and smell your hands. If your pet cat rubs its head on your hand, go under its chin.

Never Use Your Hand To Approach Your Cat’s Head

Never approach your cat from above its head. However, if your cat trusts you already, you can do it. But if not, always approach your pet cat by first letting them smell your hand and then scratching their chin.

Spend Time With Your Cat

Make a point to spend time with your cat. I suggest that you spend time with your cat every day. It does not have to be long. Five to ten minutes will do and your cat will appreciate it. You can just brush your cat or pet it for five minutes. Your cat will appreciate and love you more if you consistently do this.

Play Games With Your Cat

The best way to build trust and rapport is to play simple games with your pet cat. Toy mice on strings, lasers, or catnip are some things you should try with your pet cat. Some cat owners are successful with laser pointers. You have to know what makes your cat curious and play. Observe and experiment with things.

Give Your Cat Some Treats

Like I have said, your cat flinches when you pet her/him when your cat does not trust you. If you want to get the trust of your pet cat, try giving your cat some cat treats. It will know who is the master and it will tell them subtly that you are not dangerous. It shows them that you are a provider and friend, not a villain.

How To Know If My Cat Does Not Like To Be Petted?

There are many ways your pet cat will tell you that it dislikes affection or petting sessions. When your pet cat recoils, don’t force yourself. Leave your cat and allow it to come to you when your cat is ready. Your cat does not like to be petted if it:

  • Ducking or Flinching
  • Biting
  • Hissing 
  • Scratching
  • Running away from you

What Do Cats Feel When You Pet Them?

All mammals, including us humans and our beloved cats, respond to touching and physical interaction. If your pet cat weaned from its mother at a young age, petting serves to reconcile being an orphan. 

The way a cat experiences touching is the same with humans. When we are hugged by our loved ones, touching and hugging are very enjoyable and welcome, but if it is a stranger, we don’t like it and it feels awkward. It is the same with cats. If the cat loves the person, it becomes vulnerable to touching. 

Final Verdict

The reason why your cat flinches when you try to pet it is that your cat is afraid, experiences traumas in the past, or is included in its personality repertoire. If your cat is naturally timid, you can’t do something about it. But if your cat flinches because it has bad past experiences, you can do something about it.

Marian Haaz
Marian is a cat adoption expert. She has rescued and adopted several cats herself and helped find homes for dozens of stray cats and dogs.
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