If you have owned more than one cat, you know that they all like to be petted differently, but one area that seems to capture most cats’ attention is their ears. Many owners find that this is one of their cat’s favorite spots, but why do they enjoy it so much? It’s mainly because it feels good, as cats have a complex system of muscles and nerve endings in the ears. Read on as we explore the science behind this sensation.
Understanding a Cat’s Anatomy
Cats have amazing ears that use a complex system of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels to detect the softest sounds and even motion, making them vital tools for survival. They are also part of the way that cats communicate. Cats can move their ears in various directions to express emotions like curiosity, fear, or anger. The ears also contain scent glands that release pheromones that help them communicate with other cats.
Why Do Cats Like Their Ears Rubbed?
Rubbing the ears can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can create a sense of pleasure and well-being. Cats also have many nerve endings in their ears that connect to various parts of the body, including the brain and digestive system. When you rub their ears, it can create a sensation of pleasure felt throughout the body and help alleviate anxiety and stress and promote relaxation.
How to Rub a Cat’s Ears
Start by stroking the cat’s head and face before moving down to the base of the ears. Then, using your fingertips, gently massage the area behind the ears where the muscles are located. You can also gently rub the outer part of the ear, while being careful not to twist it. Pay attention to your cat’s body language while you’re rubbing their ears. They will likely start twitching their tail or move away if they don’t like it. However, if they start to purr and lean into it, they are enjoying the experience, and you can continue as long as they allow it.
Other Ways to Please Your Cat
While rubbing a cat’s ears can be a great way to bond, remember that not all cats will like it. Each cat has a unique personality. Some like being petted along their backs and sides, while others prefer that you stick to their face or tail. So, watch your cat’s body language carefully, and listen to their vocalizations to determine what they enjoy. If petting isn’t your cat’s thing, you can try providing them with toys, scratching posts, and other forms of enrichment to help keep them engaged.
Why Does My Cat Show Their Belly, Then Scratch Me?
Many cat owners have experienced the frustrating behavior of their cat showing their belly and then scratching and biting them when they try to pet it. While it’s natural to think that the cat is just being contrary, this is a common behavior among felines. The belly is a vulnerable area, and most cats won’t let you touch it, even if it looks like they’re inviting you to do so. Some experts believe that the cat is showing you that they are submissive, and others think that the cat may have noticed that showing their belly is a good way to get your attention. The cat might simply have the urge to stretch as they relax from petting.
Ear-Rubbing Tips and Tricks
While no one can be 100% sure why cats like their ears rubbed, it likely has to do with either the complex system of muscles in the ears that feel relaxed from the massage or the endorphins that rubbing their ears releases, which helps the cat feel calm. If they seem to be looking for you to get their ears rubbed, they could be trying to rub their pheromones on you to tell other cats that you are their property. Remember that not all cats like their ears rubbed, so you need to watch your cat’s body language when attempting it so you don’t get scratched or bitten.
Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock