Is Your Cat Ticklish?

Who doesn’t love giving their kitty a belly rub? They look so gentle and cute for a few short moments until the claws emerge. Have you ever wondered why this happens?

While it is possible that cats are ticklish, there is no definitive answer. Cats do not experience or enjoy the same sensations as their human counterparts when tickled.

Why are Cats Ticklish?

Is Your Cat Ticklish

Like most mammals, both humans and cats can feel ticklish when prodded. This sensation can be experienced in two ways – gargalesis and knismesis.

Gargalesis: The feeling you get when laughing uncontrollably due to being touched at a certain spot. This spontaneous response is called gargalesis, and while humans know it well, your cat is unlikely to encounter this form of tickling.

Knismesis: Did you ever experience goosebumps because you felt a light, crawling touch on your skin? This is your body’s natural response to imminent danger. Like us, cats are highly sensitive and experience knismesis, especially when struggling with fleas or other skin parasites.

This means that while you may have a good time being tickled by a loved one, your cat does not always appreciate this intimacy.

The no-go areas when petting cats are their chin, cheeks, belly, and paw pads; however, they adore being stroked on their face, head, and back. Rubbing your kitty’s cheeks and forehead is a great way to bond with your feline!

Remembering that every cat is different and understanding your pet’s body language is very important.

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Likes Being Tickled?

Is Your Cat Ticklish

You must understand their body language to cement a strong bond. Below are some signals you need to look out for:

Signs that your cat loves being tickled
  • Appears relaxed
  • Purrs
  • Moves against your hand to encourage you further
  • Makes eye contact
  • Forward-facing ears
  • Still or softly moving tail
  • Snuggles closer
When to stop tickling:
  • Smacks you with its paws
  • Ears are pulled back
  • Widens eyes
  • Starts getting noisier
  • Becomes motionless or stiff
  • Hisses
  • Dilated pupils
  • Twitches body
Other Great Ways to Bond with Your Cat:

It’s okay if your cat doesn’t love being touched. You can still create a strong bond with your kitty through the following activities:

  • Play together with interactive toys
  • Go out for a walk (make sure your cat is leash trained)
  • Teach them to get comfortable with your touch using treats and positive reinforcements.


Underlying health conditions could also be one of the reasons why your cat avoids being touched. Possible health concerns are:

  • Fleas and Allergies
  • Obesity – cats can get frustrated if you touch them in places they can’t easily reach. 
  • Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome – Signs of this disease include:
    • Seizure-like twitching
    • Skin ripples
    • Constant grooming
    • Tail chasing
    • Self-destructive behavior, such as biting their feet, flanks, tail, and tail base
    • Getting noisier
    • Appearing in a state of pain when stroked.

If you notice any of the above signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. For non-emergency cases, you can download the PetMyPal app and virtually connect with a licensed vet through our vet chat feature. PetMyPal offers you the convenience of getting personalized advice from a vet from the comfort of your own home.

Is Your Cat Ticklish

Remember that each cat is different; if yours doesn’t respond how you would like it to, try a few other ways to bond. We hope this blog was helpful.

Sophia Daniels
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