When a cat rolls over on his back, exposing his tummy, it probably looks like an invitation. Most cats like having their tummies stroked – right up until the second they don’t. Many owners are shocked when their cat, who had just been purring in enjoyment, is suddenly gripping their forearm with needle-sharp claws, or even sinking in teeth. This can be confusing, not to mention painful.
With cats, their motto is: “trust, but verify.” A cat on his back may seem trusting – but he also has all his weapons facing you, at the ready. Before you try to pet any cat’s tummy, be sure you know that cat very well. Then go ahead and give in to his invitation, but keep a very close watch on his body language.
Cat tummies are extremely sensitive, and the line between pleasure and overstimulation is quite narrow. At the first hint of overstimulation, stop the petting and calmly back off.
To learn more about your cat’s behavior, purchase the ebook Managing Cat Aggression from Catnip.