Why Doesn’t My Cat Like to Cuddle? (Don’t be shocked…) (2023)

So you spent your life cuddling, squishing, and invading your various pets’ personal space only to eventually get a cat and find out that sort of behavior doesn’t fly?

Do you find yourself wanting to cuddle your adorable, fluffy kitty only to discover Mr. Whiskers is decidedly uninterested and entirely stand-offish? It may be a relief to know it’s not your fault. Unless you are intentionally hurting your cat when you cuddle it, it simply might not like being cuddled at all.

We all know cats aren’t exactly the friendliest, most cuddlesome creatures around, but I guess we all think other people’s cats might not like us because we’re strangers. I mean, we hear it often enough.

“Oh, don’t mind Speckles, he doesn’t like strangers all that much,” your neighbor may have told you.

“I’m sorry about Felicia, she’s not a big fan of meeting new people,” your aunt may have said.

But what if I told you these defensive cat owners were probably just saying that so you wouldn’t think their cat is a mean kitty or that they are subject to the same feline nonchalance you are.

What if I told you their cat probably doesn’t get all lovey-dovey with them either, and there are some solid reasons why?

Well, I’m about to do just that and give you a comprehensive list of all the reasons your cat, and those of your friends and neighbors, simply don’t like cuddling.

Cats Are Anti-Social Creatures

If you daily find yourself thinking, “My cat hates cuddling,” you’re not alone. Many cat owners have come to the collective conclusion that cats can, at times, be antisocial animals.

They don’t adore humans like dogs do, nor do they see you as part of their ‘pack.’ They also don’t get attached to people in the same way dogs do. Cats are independent creatures who were never taught to rely on humans for food (that’s why they still hunt), so despite them enjoying human interaction and loving their owners, they don’t do it in the same way as other pets.

This commonly makes them see distant or antisocial, which isn’t true altogether true. They simply don’t rely on interaction with humans to express their affection. Even if your cat hates being cuddled and coddled, it may still love you. It just doesn’t see the need to express that love by letting you get all up in its business and use it as a pillow or teddy.

Cuddling Makes Them Feel Trapped and Restrained

How would you feel if a creature about ten times your height suddenly scooped you up and crushed you to its chest? I’m sure you’d be a bit alarmed, maybe even defiant, and I can bet you’d squirm like hell and try to get out of its grip.

Professionals have confirmed cats may feel the same way. It’s important to remember cats don’t hug or hold each other to show affection, so your feline friend might not understand that you grabbing it up from the ground, preventing it from moving, and petting and hugging it is a sign of love and not an attempt to restrain it.

It may be that your cat has had a bad experience with being picked up in the past, or it doesn’t like the sensation of not having something to stand on. It may simply not like the feeling of not being able to move where and when it wants.

Whatever the reason for your cat’s reaction, there is a good chance if they don’t like cuddling, they just really don’t like feeling trapped.

Your Cat Just Isn’t the Physically Affectionate Type

“My cat follows me everywhere but won’t cuddle!”

It’s a sentiment expressed by many cat owners who can’t understand why their cat seems to enjoy their company but refuses to cuddle or be held. The reason is quite simple; cats show their love in many different ways, some of which can be very subtle.

If your cat follows you around the house or garden, it is probably trying to show you it loves you. It may not want you to pick it up because it doesn’t like the sensation, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t like you.

Cats show their affection by rubbing against your legs, staying close to you, bringing you ‘gifts,’ and protecting you from strangers. Cuddling may or may not form part of their love language, but that depends entirely on your cat’s personality.

It Reminds Them of Trips to the Vet

Cats are brilliantly intelligent creatures with excellent long-term memories. This means if you’ve ever picked your cat up to take it to the vet, there’s a good chance it is associating that action with the unpleasant experience of getting an injection or a thermometer stuck in all the wrong places.

If your cat doesn’t like being held or cuddled, they may just be having flashbacks to the last time they were poked and prodded by the vet or groomer. It might not even have anything to do with you; they just don’t want to make their annual vet check any easier by letting you catch them without a challenge.

They Weren’t Socialized as Kittens

A cat that hasn’t been properly socialized from a young age may become shy or aggressive. It is essential to introduce your kitten to strangers of all ages early on so they get used to the idea of being around people and being handled by them.

Cats who never experienced human affection may not be used to it and react negatively. If your adult cat is scared or hostile towards people, you may need to look at a gradual socialization program or class.

They May Be Hurt or Sick

Do you find yourself wondering, “Why won’t my cat cuddle with me anymore?” If your cat used to love cuddling and being held but suddenly doesn’t seem at all interested, they could be injured or ill.

If the behavior change is sudden, you should immediately check if there isn’t something wrong.

Accompanying an aversion to being cuddled, a sick cat may exhibit the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Hiding in dark spaces
  • Bad breath

An injured cat may suddenly stop enjoying cuddling as well. To determine whether or not your cat is hurt, gently examine its body, focusing on its head, ears, legs, back, stomach, and tail for any bumps or bones that seem out of place.

Since cats commonly jump from high places, they are more prone to bone fractures or sprains, causing intense pain, which could be why your cat suddenly hates being cuddled.

If you suspect your cat may be sick or hurt, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

You’re Not Picking Them Up Correctly

If your cat squirms a lot when you try to cuddle them, it may be because you’re holding them in an uncomfortable or painful position. Cats also get frightened by sudden movements, so the key to both you and your cat enjoying cuddle-time is moving slowly, gently, and not forcefully grabbing or squishing them.

If you hold your cat and leave its legs dangling or grip its stomach too tight, it may feel cramped. Always support all of your cat’s body, including its legs, and make sure you aren’t making it feel confined. Don’t shake or jostle your cat when you’re cuddling it, and always place them gently on the floor afterward, legs first.

They Might Have Hyperesthesia

Hyperesthesia is also known as Rippling Skin Disorder, or Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS). Amongst other symptoms like rippling skin along the lower back and unusual movements, FHS makes cats extremely sensitive to any sort of touch.

A good indicator that your cat may have FHS is that it doesn’t like being petted or scratched in any way. This will also make them hate being cuddled or held.

FHS may occur due to an imbalanced diet, an allergic reaction to fleas, or feline OCD. Most cats with FHS can be treated at home after an initial veterinary examination. It’s vital to get professional help to ensure the right action is taken if you suspect your cat has FHS.

Cats Aren’t Fully Domesticated

Although cats have been around humans for thousands of years, they were never truly domesticated in the same way as dogs. Most experts call cats semi-domesticated at best since they don’t have an essential need for human care as other domestic animals do.

Cats can still survive perfectly well in the wild, hunting and sourcing water and shelter without human assistance. A similar situation would render a dog helpless.

Another reason for this lack of domestication is the rather lackadaisical approach taken toward cat breeding. There are only about 40 cat breeds in existence (a mediocre 10% of the number of dog breeds around), which means their genetics still share many similarities with the ancient wild cats they descended from.

Cats are, in many ways, the feline equivalents of wolf dogs. It’s no wonder that they don’t serve us with the same loyalty and adoration as dogs. They might not enjoy cuddling because it simply isn’t in their nature to endure physical expressions of affection from a species that they don’t have any real need for.

Being Picked Up is Frightening

As we mentioned earlier, there’s an excellent chance you wouldn’t like being scooped up by a giant being from a different species that you can’t fully understand. Similarly, cats may find being picked up to cuddle quite frightening.

Being lifted high off the ground may disorientate a cat and, just like humans, make it feel as though it may fall at a moment’s notice. Despite the assumption that cats always land on their feet, they most assuredly do not, and they know it.

With cats being as agile and risk-inclined as they are, there’s a good chance they have fallen out of a tree or off a table ledge before. They’re clever enough to realize that you picking them up off the ground could very well end in the same way.

If you think this might be the case, try sitting on the floor and cuddling your cat. It may solve the problem, or it may prove that the reason your cat hates cuddling is one of the other points mentioned in this list.


Why Doesn’t My Cat Like to Cuddle? (Don’t be shocked…)? ›

If your cat doesn't like to cuddle, don't take it personally. Some cats just don't like being picked up, or aren't physically affectionate. That doesn't mean he doesn't love you! Nevertheless, it's frustrating when you want to hug and squeeze him and he's just not interested.

Why doesn t my cat like physical affection? ›

Don't be alarmed if your cat resists physical attention. It may just be part of their personality or upbringing. If a kitten isn't socialized with humans at an early age, they may be reluctant to accept affection. They may also need more coaxing if you adopt them as an adult and don't know their backstory.

Why do some cats like to cuddle and others don t? ›

Why Are Some Cats More Cuddlier Than Others? Despite the fact that cuddling is considered an overall beneficial activity that traces back to kittenhood, many cats are more timid and/or wild and may not enjoy lots of cuddles.

How do I get my cat to like cuddling? ›

How to make your cat want to snuggle
  1. Get Prepared. Some cats can feel threatened by loud noises, sudden movement, and aggressive actions. ...
  2. Use cat friendly body language. ...
  3. Petting your cat. ...
  4. Reward snuggles with treats. ...
  5. Establish a daily routine.

Why does my cat not like to be held or touched? ›

If you have a cat who has started hiding away, reacts badly to touch and to being picked up, or even becomes aggressive when stroked, petted or groomed, these may be signs of discomfort or that your cat is feeling unwell. Cats in pain will often actively avoid being touched, and react negatively if you attempt it.

Can unaffectionate cats become affectionate? ›

If your cat is not naturally affectionate, there are some things you can do to bond with them to make your interactions together more positive. Your cat may never become a constant companion by your side like a dog would be, but you should be able to both give and get some affection from your cat eventually.

How do you bond with an unaffectionate cat? ›

Ways to bond with your cat
  1. Allow your cat to make the first move. If you have a skittish or shy cat, let him come to you on his terms. ...
  2. Play with your cat. ...
  3. Give your cat a treat during bonding times. ...
  4. Never stare your cat in the eye. ...
  5. Listen to your cat. ...
  6. Massage or groom your cat. ...
  7. Choose the right time.
Sep 9, 2021

Why won't my cat snuggle with me? ›

Preference. Believe it or not, it may be as simple as he just doesn't like to be touched or picked up. Your kitty might just dislike the way being held feels. For some cats, being picked up may actually communicate disrespect.

Why does my cat want to be near me but not cuddle? ›

Some cats are just not cuddlers. They show their affection by hanging out in your vicinity instead. If you've had them since they were kittens, that could be the case. If they are rescues or you got them as adults, they could still be scoping you out.

Why does my cat hate cuddling so much? ›

Human beings love to embrace, but for a feline, a cuddle can make them feel trapped. That's why, when cats are held and prevented from having an escape route, they may become fearful or aggressive.

How do you know if a cat doesn't like you petting them? ›

Crouching. If you approach your cat and they shrink away from you, moving into a crouched position, then this a strong indicator that they want their own space. If they try to run or jump away then you can also be pretty confident that they don't want physical contact!

How do you hold a cat that hates being held? ›

Know Your Cat's Tolerance Level

The longer you hold a squirmy, unhappy cat, the more she'll hate being held the next time. If your cat hates being picked up and held, slow down and just focus on being able to put one hand on her side and then releasing. Work up to placing a hand on each side and then letting go.

Is it bad to pick up your cat a lot? ›

"Being held or stroked for too long can be very stressful for some cats," said Nicky Trevorrow, behavior manager at Cats Protection. "Space and peace is often what they need.

Why does my cat cringe when I pet her? ›

Animal behaviour experts discovered that cats released hormones linked to anxiety when they were handled by humans. In fact, the tests appeared to show that no cats enjoyed being stroked. Some were prepared to tolerate it – but they were the individuals that showed the highest levels of distress.

Why does my cat flinch when I raise my hand? ›

Their muscles may be quite tense, and they will flinch or pull away when touched. Some cats just don't like being touched, but if yours normally does and then suddenly doesn't, consider pain as a possible cause.

Why won't my cat let me touch her stomach? ›

Why do some cats dislike belly rubs? Hair follicles on the belly and tail area are hypersensitive to touch, so petting there can be overstimulating, Provoost says. “Cats prefer to be pet and scratched on the head, specifically under their chin and cheeks,” where they have scent glands, Provoost says.

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