Myth: If a cat shows you their tummy, they’re asking for you to rub it…
Cats that roll onto their side or back and expose their belly are communicating that they feel relaxed enough in your presence to expose such a vulnerable area. It doesn’t mean that they’re asking you to stroke or tickle their tummy.
In fact, if you do try to tickle their tummy, you might get a bite or a scratch. Don’t tell them off, they’re not being ‘naughty’.
Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow says: “This is a common misconception and most cats would prefer to be greeted by stroking their head or cheeks instead.”
If your cat starts to show aggressive behaviour, take them to the vet for a health-check to rule out medical reasons. Cats are very subtle when it comes to showing pain and they will do their best to hide it so they could be in discomfort. If your vet gives your cat a clean bill of health, they may refer you to an APBC registered behaviourist to help identify the causes.
You may also find it useful to read our Behaviour focus blog post: when cats attack.