Are Cats Ticklish? Should You Try Tickling Your Cat?

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Are Cats Ticklish

Cat lovers and pet parents would agree that it’s almost impossible to stop tickling a cat, especially when his belly is exposed and inviting for some tickling sessions.

Most cats love light touches on their chin, while some cats enjoy being tickled on their belly area. But, are cats ticklish?

While cat reactions vary, one thing is certain – unlike us, humans, they can’t speak if they love what you’re doing.

So, as a cat parent, you should know how to read feline body language for signs that can tell you whether or not your cat likes having his belly touched, as well as his other sensitive areas.

Are Cats Ticklish?

Cats don't speak the way we do, so they can't tell you which feelings they feel or not. And while they can’t certainly laugh when being tickled, cats experience tickling sensation. However, their reaction may vary from us, humans. More so, two cats can also react differently.

Nonetheless, cats are ticklish. A cat displays his reaction in different ways – he may purr, lift his chin upwards while his eyes are closed, be in a relaxed posture, wiggle around, hiss, or even bite or scratch you when you happen to touch some ticklish areas.

Hence, as a cat parent, you should be alert to your cat’s body language to help create comfortable, safe, and warm petting sessions.

Related Article: Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

Two Types of Ticklishness

Ticklishness can be categorized into two – the kind that is felt by humans, and primates, and the type that cats experience.


Gargalesis is the kind of ticklishness that makes humans, and primates laugh out loud. It is believed that this ticklishness may help with social bonding by sharing some uplifting laughter. Others believe that gargalesis can develop young defenders' skills in battling and protecting themselves.

When they take part in tickling exercises with others within their group, they develop reflex skills that help their bodies protect themselves in case a predator invades their territory. In particular, their reflexes can help them protect certain vulnerable areas in the body such as the neck, and ribs.


An additional form of ticklishness called knismesis doesn't provoke any kind of funny responses. It is mainly an irritation or annoyance.

And this happens to be the ticklishness that cats experience. One of the common indications that cats are knismesis is when they scratch their ears to get rid of a bug.

Are Cats Ticklish? Should You Try Tickling Your Cat? 1

How Do You Find a Tickle Spot on a Cat?

It takes some trials to see which ticklish spot a pet likes because theirs may be unresponsive or irritating in different parts when tickles occur. Many cats love tickling a new spot, which will sometimes be harder to find if your cat isn't interested in it.

Cats won't understand that when their body gets tickled. Like any human, every kitten has unique responses to tickling. Sometimes one enjoys the experience, while at times they don’t. Most cats are more likely to accept very minimal scratching, though.

So, a word of advice, if your cat isn't so nice to you or showing some aggression or annoyance, then, it is obviously not the best time to touch his skin.

It will take some training, but your cat will enjoy his favorite spot very quickly once you’ve discovered it and you can start to develop a tickling routine with him.

Where Are a Cat’s Ticklish Spots?

Cats have varying physiology. So, each feline can have varying ticklish spots, as well as reactions when touched or tickled on these areas. And while cats can’t laugh, they do show certain movements or behaviors when tickled on their sensitive spots.

In particular, cats may respond by purring, hissing, growling, or creating certain noises that only felines can produce. They may even respond physically by lifting their backs, wiggling around, shaking their heads, waving their tails, or shivering.

Ticklish spots include a cat’s paws, belly, chin, and cheeks. Some cats are also ticklish down the side and between the ears.

You can try tickling these areas with your feline companion, but if your cat shows any sign of discomfort, stop petting and just don’t push it. Respect your cat’s personal space, or endure the wrath of a scratch.

Other Sensitive Areas on a Cat

If your cat comes towards you and rubs his body against your legs, or pounces his head into your hands, you can take it as a good sign that he wants tickling or petting. Grab this chance to spend quality time with your feline companion.

As always, be mindful of the sensitive areas that you are touching, and pay attention to your cat’s reaction. Some cats enjoy being tickled on these spots, while some are not. You will certainly know if your cat hates what you are doing if he moves away from you, hisses at you, or becomes defensive or aggressive.

Cats don’t react the same way to different stimuli. The only way to know your cat’s reactions to being tickled is by trying it out.

Top of the Head, Chin, Cheeks, Ears, and Neck

Generally speaking, many cats love being rubbed or tickled at the top of their heads, and their necks. As mentioned earlier, they may even pounce their head at you to encourage you from petting them even more.

The base of your cat’s ears is another popular tickling spot for cats. And this can be attributed to the fact that a lot of scent glands are located in this area. Your cat can feel more comfortable with you as he releases more of his scent onto you.

Your cat’s cheeks are also packed with scent glands, which make them ideal for pleasurable tickling sessions.

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Front of the Body

A cat’s belly is often off-limits, but you can still pet your cat in the ventral front area of his body. We are talking about your cat’s chest area, which is located between her front legs. You will know if your cat loves being touched in this area if he lifts his head up or if he doesn’t react negatively or aggressively.

A Cat’s Back

Cats are torn when it comes to having their backs touched, more so, tickled. If you have a long-haired cat, he may love the feel of a brush running along her back down to the base of his tail.

A Cat’s Tail

Most often, a cat’s tail is always in motion. He may sway it back and forth, which may appear like a waving gesture.

The only time your cat’s tail may lie or sit still is when he is asleep. Some cats like being stroked or tickled in this area, while some don’t. So, again, you just have to learn how to read your cat’s body language.

The base of your cat’s tail may appear like a ticklish spot because he may move his hips upwards when you touch it, but it’s not.

Your cat does this because the base of his tail is also a scent gland area. His response means that he is marking you. On the other hand, it can also be due to itching caused by fleas, skin infections, or allergies.

Related Article: Steps on How To Pick Up a Cat Properly

Should You Try Tickling Your Cat?

Unlike dogs and other animals, cats rarely show emotions. And you shouldn’t take it against them – it’s just part of their nature. They don’t show emotions as a matter of survival, especially for those cats living in the wild.

However, as mentioned earlier, you can read their body language and act accordingly to avoid stressing or annoying your cat and avoid being harmed.

Having said these things, tickling may not be as enjoyable for cats as it is for us, humans. If they don’t like the feeling, they can get angry or aggressive, and they may even not approach you next time.

Hence, no matter how irresistibly cuddly your cats are, as pet parents, you should know when to tickle cats and when to stop and give them their privacy and personal space.

Signs Your Cat Likes (or Dislikes) It When You Pet Them

Just like us, humans, cats can also display different reactions when tickled. Most likely, your cat would enjoy short tickling sessions before they would have had enough and simply walk away from you. If your cat approaches you for attention, you can try to tickle him, but avoid sudden movements that may startle him.

If your cat stays put while you are tickling certain areas of his body, then, you can take it as a sign of approval. Watch out for your cat’s verbal and/or non-verbal cues, so you’ll know whether he likes or dislikes what you are doing.

Some of the signs that your cat likes what you are doing are chirping, short and high-pitched meows, and burbling. Your cat may also purr, nudge your hand if you stop petting or tickling, and he may also knead his front paws.

On the other hand, the negative signs that you should watch out for include hissing and growling, tensed body, deep and elongated meows, and swiping at you with his paws.

At times, it may be easier for you to think that your cat is feeling playful when in fact, he is already communicating his discomfort with what you are doing. This is especially true if you are not aware of these cues, or you are not paying attention to your cat’s body language.

As a final word, when it comes to tickling, let your cats guide you. After all, they are our masters. Right?

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Can I tickle my cat?

It is best to know your cat's preferences before petting or tickling it. It may like being tickled on its paws, head, chin, neck, ears, cheeks, chest, back, and tail. However, never tickle its belly because your cat has the thinnest skin on the belly and they are protective of it.

Do cats feet get ticklish?

Yes, but more sensitive than ticklish. Frequently a period of desensitizing is necessary in order to teach a cat to tolerate having their feet handled while having their claws clipped. Cats frequently use their paws to reach into small spaces for toys or prey.

Do cats smile?

Cats have the muscular ability to make facial expressions that resemble smiling, but it's nothing to do with happiness! Positive signs of a contented cat include purring, slow-blinking, paw-kneading, head-rubbing, meowing and tail-flicking – but never smiling!

Where do cats like to be tickled?

Back of the Head: Most cats love slow, soft rubs down the back of their heads and necks. Just be sure to pet in the direction of the fur growth. Under the Chin: Some cats like to be tickled by your fingertips underneath their chins. Just watch the cat's face closely as you try this one out to be sure she's enjoying it.

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