Do cats tickle?
Although a priori we may think that tickling is an exclusive sensation for humans, the truth is that cats and other animals are also capable of feeling them. Unlike humans and primates, however, our companion animals are not capable of feeling all types of tickles.
Are cats ticklish or not?
Before explaining whether or not cats are ticklish, we must define what this term means. In general, the reaction or sensation that occurs when rubbing or touching some parts of the body is called tickling. At a physiological level, we can say that tickling is the expression of nerve signals related to the stimulation of touch and pain receptors.
Depending on the «intensity» of the tickling, one can talk about:
- Knismesis : refers to light tickling caused by light rubbing, which generates a sensation of itching or tingling, generally pleasant. Knismesis is thought to be a body response that serves to alert about the presence of insects or spiders on the skin.
- Gargalesis : this term refers to the most energetic tickling, which generates an involuntary laugh, and which generally occurs when pressure is applied to certain areas of the body.
In general, it is thought that all animals are capable of feeling the tickle associated with knismesis . However, gargalesis is a unique phenomenon in humans and primates, as it is a mechanism linked to play that causes a response exclusive to these species: laughter.
Therefore, we can conclude this section by stating that, indeed, cats can feel tickling , but only those associated with knismesis.
Where do cats tickle?
Now that we know that it is possible to generate the sensation of tickling in our cats, we are going to explain what are the areas of the body that we can touch to trigger the well-known knismesis.
There are three key areas to tickle cats: the chin, the cheeks and the base of the tail , areas where cats have scent glands that release pheromones. By touching them at these points, it is likely that they feel a pleasant tickling sensation, which we can detect if we pay attention to the signals that we explain in the next section.
How to know if a cat is ticklish?
Accurately assessing the sensations that our companion animals feel can be a complicated task. However, we must know that by correctly analyzing their body language, we can discern what they are feeling at all times.
In this sense, we must mention that there are a series of signs that help us to know if our cats are enjoying being tickled, such as:
- Purr : sound emitted by cats that is generally associated with a feeling of well-being, satisfaction and pleasure.
- Kneading with the front legs : this is a behavior that kittens learn when they are lactating (to facilitate the flow of milk), and that they later reproduce at certain times, especially when they present high levels of well-being.
- Body and facial relaxation , to the point of closing your eyes.
On the contrary, when tickling is unpleasant, cats tend to put their ears back, tense their muscles and shake their heads or paws. If we are not aware of the inconvenience we are causing them, the animal will most likely move away from us, and ultimately scratch or bite us to show its discomfort.
How to tickle a cat?
If you want to tickle your cat, first of all, you must choose a time when he is relaxed and receptive to enjoy those touches. Remember that caresses, as well as any other sign of affection, help to strengthen the bond with our animals, so it is important to choose the right moments so that the interaction is always positive.
If you consider that your cat is receptive, you can proceed to gently touch some of the key areas that we have recommended in previous sections (such as the chin, cheeks or the base of the tail). Simultaneously, you must go analyzing their body language , in order to discern if your cat is enjoying being tickled. If so, you can continue stroking that area or look for other areas that are also to your liking. Remember that each cat has its own tastes and you must be yourself / the one who gradually learns what his preferences are in terms of caresses.
Areas to avoid
Finally, it is important that you know that there are certain areas in which we must avoid caresses. For example, do you know if cats have ticklish paws? Well, the truth is that the legs, abdomen and tail are usually areas where cats reject caresses. In addition, depending on the animal and its individual preferences, there may be other areas that are not to your liking either. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the signals that our cat shows when we caress him and avoid tickling those areas that make him uncomfortable. Otherwise, it is likely that they will show their discomfort by throwing us a scratch or a small bite.