Although every cat is different and has a unique set of purr-worthy zones, us felines usually have some common petting preferences. So put down your smart phone. Fasten your seat belt. Make sure your seatbacks and tray tables are in their fully upright and locked positions. It’s time to learn some life skills, people!
To bond with your cat — and receive a happy purr or friendly head butt, if you do it right — follow my specific steps for these 9 must-learn and must-do cat petting techniques:
1. The Chin Chillin’
Purpose: Activate scent glands, assist with grooming
Popularized by: Jay Leno, Marlon Brando
Step 1: Locate the underside of the chin where the jawbone connects to the skull.
Step 2: Take one hand and scratch rapidly like your fingers are doing “The Riverdance.”
Step 3: Listen for a Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. (Congratulations, you’re doing it right!)
2. The Swedish Earmuffs
Purpose: Stimulate glands, release tension
Popularized by: Abba, Vince Vaughn
Step 1: Place your thumb and forefinger behind our ears.
Step 2: Rub them back and forth like Johnny Manziel after scoring a touchdown.
Step 3: Watch us melt into a purring ball of cuddles. (Hint: Drool is good!)
3. The Booty-O-Vator
Purpose: Therapeutic relaxation, triggering kitten memories
Popularized by: Jennifer Lopez, Sir Mix-a-Lot
Step 1: Locate your cat’s rear muscles, right above the tail.
Step 2: Squeeze your hands in and out like you’re kneading dough.
Step 3: Go slow and steady… this isn’t the latest Vin Diesel movie.
NOTE: When we position our rear towards you, it is an offer of camaraderie—much like a posterior Facebook “friend request.”
4. The Neckasaurus Rex
Benefits: Stress relief, cat-human bonding
Popularized by: Keira Knightley, Gweneth Paltrow
Step 1: Feel the spot at the base of your cat’s skull where the head meets the neck.
Step 2: Use your finger and thumb to create a circular motion for 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 3: Watch your cat rub his face against you like a little furry windshield wiper.
5. The Brain Hurricane
Benefits: Stimulates creativity, tends to end in napping
Popularized by: Natalie Portman, Danica McKellar
Step 1: Put your thumb and index finger on the top of your cat’s head.
Step 2: Pretend you are a large lobster and gently pinch your thumb and index finger back and forth.
Step 3: Your cat will likely blink and nod in approval (and lucky you for having opposable thumbs!).
6. The Smooth Operator
Benefits: Muscle relaxation, back alignment
Popularized by: Marvin Gaye, Boyz II Men
Step 1: Place one hand in a flat position on the upper portion of your cat’s back.
Step 2: Swoop your hand down the entire length of your cat’s back saying “smooooth” as you do it.
Step 3: You may feel us stretch out our limbs and paws in kitty delight.
7. The Lumbardi Party
Benefits: Helps release toxins and chemicals, relieves the stress of chasing red laser dots
Popularized by: Rihanna, Vince Lombardi
Step 1: Put down your smartphone and place two hands on our lower back and sides.
Step 2: Position your fingers to form a cat-ready fine-tooth comb.
Step 3: Move your hands to and fro, pausing every so often to let us ask for more.
NOTE: I highly recommend pairing this petting experience with a follow-up nap in a nice sunny spot.
8. The Get Cheeky
Benefits: Social bonding, marks you with our scent glands
Popularized by: Angelina Jolie, Gisele Bundchen
Step 1: Locate your cat’s temporal gland on the upper cheek between the eye and ear.
Step 2: Keep your fingers relaxed but firm and give your cat a nice scratch.
Step 3: Much like an NFL football player, you may become the recipient of a friendly head butt.
9. The Shoulderific
Benefits: Therapeutic massage
Popularized by: Michelle Obama, Ashley Greene
Step 1: Place two hands on your cat’s back, one on each shoulder blade.
Step 2: Press inward with your palms and use soft circular movements (but don’t press on the spine).
Step 3: Feel great about your rapid accumulation of positive kitty points and good cat karma.