Last Updated on: December 22, 2022 by Crystal Uys

happy cat with closed eyes hug owner

Most of the time, cats are irresistible. I can’t help but want to give my cats a big squeeze when they’re doing something adorable, a la Hugo the Abominable Snowman talking about wanting to hug and squeeze Bugs Bunny. Some cats make it very obvious that they don’t like hugs, while others may be a little more stoic in their response. Do cats generally enjoy hugs, though?


Do Cats Like Hugs?

I have three cats, and each cat responds differently to being picked up and hugged. Nutmeg makes it clear that hugs aren’t her thing by attempting to scramble out of my arms the second her feet leave the floor. Even if I don’t pick her up to hug her, she immediately squeezes out of my arms.

Noodles will tolerate a hug, but it doesn’t seem to be her favorite form of affection, instead preferring to scream at us at 5 am until we pet her.

Aslan hisses when picked up or confined, so it’s safe to say that he’s not a fan. Then again, that could be due to me following him around the house saying, “let me love you!”

cat snuggling with owner
Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

What Does Science Say?

Anecdotes may feel very strong when you’re the one experiencing them, but experience can vary significantly between situations. That’s why it’s important to look to science to give us a better idea of how our cats actually feel about hugs.

In general, studies and anecdotes both point to most cats not enjoying hugs. Cats usually don’t like to be confined, and hugs can be very confining, to say the least. Many cats also greatly enjoy their own space, so they may not be appreciative of having their personal boundaries crossed for the sake of a hug.

On the other hand, cats are all individuals, and some cats will tolerate hugs. Some cats even enjoy being hugged and may return the hug with other signs of affection, like purring, licking, and snuggling. Some cat breeds may be more likely to enjoy hugs than others, like the laid-back Scottish Fold, loving Ragdoll, and heat-seeking Sphynx. Even within these breeds, each cat is an individual, so don’t expect breed to be the only factor determining if your cat likes hugs.

Can I Make My Cat Like Hugs?

It’s hard to say if there’s a way to teach your cat to enjoy hugs because there are so many factors at play determining why your cat doesn’t like hugs and if there are ways for you to work through some of those factors.

One thing that will work in your favor in helping your cat to like hugs is starting them young. Noodles was around 8 weeks old when we found her, and she is our cat that is most tolerant of hugs. Nutmeg was already 6 months old when we adopted her from a rescue. Even though she had been living in a foster home, she had not been picked up, hugged, or carried around much.

Aslan was 7 years old when I adopted him from a local animal shelter. The shelter was able to tell me that he had come from a home with other animals, but little else was known, so it’s impossible to know how much he was handled. It’s possible that all of my cats would love hugs if they had all been started on regular hugging at a young age.

Sometimes, your cat won’t like hugs, even if you start them as the smallest kitten. This is because your cat is an individual with their own preferences and personality. Just like how your cat prefers chicken over fish, or likes ear scratches over butt scratches, your cat may just be a cat that doesn’t like hugs, no matter what you try.

Cat being kissed by owner
Image Credit: JensEnemark, Pixabay

Does My Cat Not Love Me?

Just because your cat doesn’t like hugs doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. Cats are highly intelligent animals that show a great deal of empathy and affection towards other animals and people. Even without hugs, cats are pros at showing love in their own way. We’re all familiar with purring as a sign of happiness in cats, but cats show affection in a variety of ways. Does your cat drop their favorite toy on your face when you’re feeling down? That could be your cat showing you love in their favorite way.


Conclusion

Most cats don’t like hugs, but some cats are tolerant of hugs and some love hugs. Don’t be discouraged if your cat doesn’t seem to like hugs, though. None of my cats are appreciative of my love and affection in the form of hugging, although I steal a little bit of their love that way. If you’re one of the lucky people who has a cat who loves hugs, hold on tight! That’s a rare gift that most cats don’t want to give. If your cat isn’t a hugger, though, keep an eye out for other ways that your cat shows you their love, as well as finding ways to show your cat how much you love them without pushing the boundaries of their personal space.


Featured Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

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2 Comments on What Do Cats Really Think About Hugs? Do They Enjoy Them?

  1. Awww, such a sweet article! Your point about each cat being unique in their personality is so true. They’re exactly like us in this way. When we respect their boundaries, preferred forms of affection, and general personality quirks, they become much more trusting, and in turn, much more loving!

    I’ve had a few snuggler kitties over the years who adored hugs. Out of our four rescues currently, I don’t think any of them ‘like’ hugs. We have a couple who will tolerate them and sort-of-kind-of like them…for a few minutes! My baby boy Pips responds to “Want kisses on the head?,” by raising his head back while being held so I can kiss all over him. They’re just too sweet!

    Another great post. Thank you for doing what you do ❤️

  2. Most of my cats over the years like my hugs. There have been a few that demand it. My latest is always trying to snuggle up around my face. Loves to be kissed. Looks me in the eyes. We touch noses. Super affectionate. When not feeling well she will get as close to my face as possible. Even putting a paw on my face. If the other one comes around she will put her paw out as to say stay away, and may even nip at her. She happens to be the most affectionate to me. But the others have all let me snuggle and hug them. But soon tire of it. Other than the first one… all have been Siamese.

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