Are Cats Ticklish?

Are Cats Ticklish

You have probably seen your cat lying down and wanted to tickle it on at least one occasion. Most people are ticklish to some extent, but what about cats? 

You might be surprised at what you are going to learn in this article with regards to your pet’s ability to be tickled.

Is My Cat Ticklish Like I Am?

The fact is that while cats can be ticklish, it is a bit different with these animals. When you hit a certain spot on your cat just right, it doesn’t cause them to laugh. We aren’t exactly sure what cats experience when they are tickled, but it’s probably something similar to an itching sensation.

Types of Ticklishness

There are actually two different types of ticklishness, which distinguish humans from other animals. If you want to know about your cat’s ability to get tickled, it is important that you learn about this.

1. Gargalesis

Humans are the only animals that experience gargelesis, which is the first type of ticklishness. This unique sensation makes us laugh while simultaneously feeling like we’re undergoing mild torture.

There are numerous theories as to why we are capable of being tickled. Some scientists have speculated that tickling developed over many years as a way for us to bond with each other. Another theory is that this type of ticklishness has played an important part in self-defense. Getting tickled hones our reflexes, which can valuable in avoiding all sorts of threats.

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sleeping ticklish cat

2. Knismesis

The second type of ticklishness is called knismesis, and human beings do not experience it at all. We do know that cats can experience this, but it’s a very different sensation than that of gargalesis.

While humans tend to laugh when they are tickled, other animals like cats seem to be irritated or annoyed. If you manage to tickle your cat, it might swat at your hand with its paw. This is the same response that it has to insects landing on its head or body.

How Cats Respond to Being Tickled

There is no universal way in which cats respond to being tickled, but there are a few common reactions. It is important to keep these potential responses in mind before trying to tickle your feline friend.

Your cat’s first reaction to being tickled will most likely be to swat at you with its paw. If you persist, they might scratch you up with their claws. It is very unlikely that they will respond positively to being tickled.

You might be able to tickle your cat for a little bit, but they won’t put up with it for very long. It’s best to not push your luck when it comes to doing this. Even cats that absolutely love their owners will only tolerate so much when it comes to getting tickled.

Signs to Look Out for

There are certain signs that you will need to be aware of when it comes to petting your cat. You’ll want to know when your cat is enjoying being petted, and when it is not. Your pet will provide you with clear indications of both, but you have to pay attention.

  • Purring: If your cat starts to purr while you are petting it, you have the green light to keep going. In fact, they might react negatively if you suddenly stop. Purring is a sound that cats typically make when they feel relaxed and happy overall.
  • Hissing: This type of vocalization means “leave me alone”, no questions about it.
  • Tense posture: When you are petting your cat and you notice its body tensing up, you should stop immediately. This most likely means that they want you to stop for one reason or another.
  • Kneading: A cat will start kneading its owner if it feels comfortable around them. This is a clear sign that they are enjoying being petted by you.
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tickling cat

Where to Pet Your Cat

You will find that there are certain spots on your cat’s body that tend to be better than others for petting. A lot of cats will respond positively to having these areas petted by their owner.

1. Ears

Many cats absolutely love to get their ears petted and rubbed, but you’ll want to be gentle. Focus on the bottom of their ears, as this area contains scent glands. These glands release pheromones that help them mark their territory. Petting this particular area of your kitty can help make them feel extremely relaxed and at ease overall.

2. Back

Your cat’s back is another good area to pet, but you’ll want to be careful about touching their tail. When you are petting your cat’s back, you should stop at their butt. You simply do not want to risk incurring the wrath of your kitty by messing with its tail. A lot of these animals get annoyed very easily when their tail is played with.

3. Chin

The chin is another area that most cats love being petted. Stroking your cat’s chin softly will likely cause it to begin purring. This is a definite sign that your kitty is relaxed and feeling great.


  • While cats can be tickled, they don’t experience it the same way that humans do.
  • Gargalesis ticklishness is only experienced by humans, and it produces laughter.
  • Cats are prone to knismesis, which is a second form of ticklishness that humans do not experience.
  • Most cats don’t respond very well to being tickled. In fact, tickling your cat could get you scratched up.
  • Your cat will likely bat you with its paw at first as a warning to stop tickling them.
  • Cats love being petted on the chin, back, and ears.
  • When you are petting your cat, be careful about touching their tail.
  • If you notice your cat’s posture tense up while you are petting it, you should stop right away.
  • Purring is a definite sign that your cat is enjoying the petting.
  • You might also notice your cat kneading your legs if your petting feels especially nice.
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