Cat Affection Styles

Each cat has his or her own preferred style of receiving or giving physical affection. This is an easy way to identify your cat’s preferences so you can respectfully touch, pet or snuggle your cat, knowing he or she likes what you’re doing.

Just remember: cats are fluid and can move from one style to another or combine their own unique affection style!


Lap Cat

Cat enjoys human interaction and petting. Leans in and purrs with normal human touch. Enjoys time on laps and often honors their person with kneading while purring.

I’m the cat who loves spending time on my favorite people’s laps, leaning in for pets, purring and sometimes honoring you by kneading (making biscuits) with my paws.


Sidecar Cat

Cat enjoys humans but prefers to snuggle to the side of the lap or legs. Also purrs and kneads like Lap Cat. May include Half Lap Cat, who enjoys lying partly on the lap, partly off.

I love to hang out with my favorite people, but prefer snuggling right next to them, rather than on top. I also lean in for pets and might even throw in some biscuits too. I may be a Half Lap Cat who enjoys lying partly on your lap.


Light Hands Cat

Cat enjoys and leans in to a light petting style, including letting the cat do more of the petting and being pet with the back of the hand. Cat may enjoy slower pets. Some lean in and purr as long as their humans pet them from a standing position.

I prefer a light touch for petting and often like it if you start at my shoulders, avoiding my head and neck. Heavy patting makes me duck and may make me avoid you. Stroking with the back of your hand may help me feel safer. I may be more comfortable being stroked while you stand or when I’m turned away from you.


Strong Hands Cat

Cat enjoys a petting style that can include firm (not hard!) pats and scratching. This style can scare cats who aren’t used to it.

I lean in and purr when you pet me with firm pats and scratches, usually on my head, shoulders and back, but sometimes my tail too.

Say Please Cat

Cat needs to be in control of interaction with humans to feel safe. Enjoys human touch as long as he or she can indicate consent by movement toward their human first. May also need to control the duration of petting. If human goes over threshold, cat may indicate discomfort by holding up paw, soft mouthing or harsher methods if human doesn’t stop.

I’m the cat who needs to give you consent to touch first, with soft blinks or leaning in slightly. I may only be able to tolerate a few strokes at a time. If you go over my threshold, I may ask you to stop by holding up a paw or softly mouthing my discomfort. If you continue, I may scratch or bite to tell you NO.


Hands Free Cat

Cat feels safer avoiding hands completely but will pet you with body and/or tail. Cat may also respond well to a soft petting wand. Some Hands Free Cats respond more positively to voice than touch.

I feel safer when hands aren’t used to pet me. I may prefer to pet you by brushing you with my body, doing drive-bys or petting you with my tail as I turn away. I may lean in and purr with a soft petting wand. I may also prefer being talked to rather than touched.