Why Cats Duck When You Pet Them

Just as is the case with most pets, you probably reach down to pet your cat multiple times every day. After all, it’s one of the main ways to you show your affection.

However, some cats appear to shy away from such affection and actually end up ducking when you go to the pet them. The question becomes why they do this in the first place.

Cats may duck when you try to pet them because they want to avoid the action. You might be a bit heavy with your hands, and your cat does not like that. Some cats have sensitive skin, so they will go to great lengths to avoid being petted. However, this does not mean that they are angry with you.

It can be disheartening when the cat that you love shies away when you go to pet him or her.

You shouldn’t take this personally. There could be some very good reasons why this is happening.

Our own cats do love to be fussed but sometimes they duck out the way when we go to pet them. This is often due to wanting something else at that time other than fuss, such as food.

We’ve explained in more detail below why your cat might duck when you go pet them.

Should I Still Pet My Cat If He Keeps Ducking?

Cats can be difficult to understand at times. At one moment they may seem to be craving your affection, only to demonstrate their desire to be left alone in the next.

This is why you might wonder if you should leave your cat alone if they are ducking every time you go to pet him.

The action of your cat ducking does not mean you can no longer pet him.

What it means is that you have to discover what it is that you are doing wrong. In the cat’s eye, that is the key. It could be that you are touching a cat in a sensitive area, catching him at a bad time, or simply misinterpreting his ducking as a means to get you out of his hair.

What Areas Should I Avoid Petting?

If you are familiar with dogs, you may be well aware that they love to have their bellies rubbed.

Because this is such common knowledge, many people wrongfully assume that cats like to be rubbed in the same spot. This is not correct. One reason that your cat might be ducking is because he knows you are about to reach for the belly.

You may want to stay away from your cat’s belly unless you have a really special relationship with her. The reason behind this is that cats are still hunters by their nature. They are constantly looking out for threats to their wellbeing.

Because of this, cats are still fiercely protective of their belly.

Our cats have grown to love having their belly tickled but this trust in us had to be built up over many years.

Why Should The Belly Be Avoided?

As you are probably aware, cats are extremely smart.

They understand that all of their vital organs are located right under their belly. Because of this, it’s the first place that predators strike when they are in a fight with a cat. Your cat will not want you rubbing its belly because it views that action as a threat to its wellbeing.

The next time you want to show affection to your cat, try to avoid getting your hands anywhere near the belly.

As a result, you might well discover that he stops ducking your touch. This is a way of showing that you respect any fears that your cat might have and that you are willing to make necessary adjustments as well.

Where Can I Safely Pet My Cat?

If your cat seems to be ducking every time you attempt to touch him, you might wonder if there is anywhere safe for you to touch your pet in the first place.

You will be happy to know that there are certain places where you can safely pet your cat, and he will likely thank you for it in the end.

If you’re looking to make your cat happy, the key is focus on their scent glands.

As strange as that might sound, cats love their sense of scent. When your pet is rubbing its chin on the furniture, they are not doing so simply because they love the feel of your sofa. They are actually leaving their scent. That simple action makes your cat happy.

A cat is happiest and at its most content in an environment that they are comfortable in.

The same comes true when you reach down to touch your cat. If you can find those special places where he feels the best and is not threatened, then you will notice that the ducking is likely to stop.

Here are four of the safest places to pet your cat:

  • Right under the chin – It’s important to point out that you will want to be gentle. Rub your cat softly right at the intersection of its jawbone and skull. Your cat is likely to enjoy this so much that he will begin purring and actually push his chin into your touch as you begin petting.
  • At the base of the ears – If you watch your cat for any length of time, you will find out that this is a common place for him to rub against other objects and people. That’s because it is a primary scent gland. When your cat bumps his ears up against you, feel free to pet him there. He will greatly appreciate it.
  • On the cheeks just underneath the whiskers – It might take some practice to find just the right spot, but your cat will let you know when you do. This is a pleasurable spot, so your cat will likely encourage you to pet him there often.
  • At the base of the tail – The key here is to not pull your cat’s tail. Instead, begin with a soft caress right at the base of the tail, and then work your way down. Do this over and over and again, and you are sure to gain a new friend in the process.

If you can consistently focus on these four areas of your cat when you are petting him, you will probably notice more favorable results.

This is also how the affection and love expressed between you and your cat will begin to grow over time.

Sudden Ducking Could Be A Sign Of Illness

There could be some occasions when your cat used to let you pet him with no issues at all, only to now discover that he ducks the moment your hand comes out.

There could be many reasons behind this sudden anxiety, but the possibility of some type of skin ailment or disease is a possible culprit. You will want to keep a watchful eye on this.

Like humans, cats can develop skin allergies over the course of their lifespan.

Cats are especially susceptible to ticks. This can really aggravate such allergies and make it uncomfortable when humans reach down to touch them. If that is the case, you may discover that your cat starts to duck unexpectedly.

In this situation, do your cat a favor and take them to the vet.


The key is to not be alarmed when your cat ducks your efforts to pet him.

It doesn’t mean that you have lost a friend. It simply means that you are doing something the cat does not quite approve of.

Correct the action, find a way to safely pet your cat, and everything will be well in the world once again.