Cat belly: Can you rub a cat's stomach, and what's the Venus cat trap?

Does your cat sometimes like to be stroked on the belly, but sometimes lashes out at you, as well? The famous Venus cat trap is sometimes hard to decipher, so here's how to rub a cat's stomach.

Cats are often very sensitive on their stomachs and don't want to be touched there.
Cats are often very sensitive on their stomachs and don't want to be touched there.  © 123RF/Zhuravlevab

Cat owners are all aware of the danger that comes with an exposed feline abdomen. Fluffy and alluring, our furry friends like to pull us in for a good cuddle, only to savagely scrape us with their sharp claws and piercing teeth. Is it OK to rub a cat on the belly, though? Why does it get so dangerous?

In this cat guide, TAG24 will take you through how to pet a cat's belly safely. Why do cats show you their belly, and when can you tell that now's a good time to stay away? Here's everything you need to know about cat belly rubs!

What does it mean when a cat shows you its belly?

There are many ways to interpret cat body language, and that's not because they are particularly subtle. They express their emotions openly and with a great deal of self-importance, but there's one big problem: It's hard to know what their behaviors actually mean. For example, does your cat want a pat, or does it want to sleep when it shows you its belly?

Why do cats show you their bellies?

  • As a show of confidence, safety, and security: Your cat will sometimes show you its belly as a sign of confidence and trust in you. It feels love for you and knows that you'll never purposefully hurt it, so showing you its belly is a way for it to express that trust. After all, a cat's belly is its most sensitive area. In such a case, it's likely that your cat wants a pat!
  • They are being submissive: Also part of being confident and feeling safe, some cats will show you their bellies as a sign of submission – you are their master, after all!
  • Playfulness and the Venus cat trap: Cats will often roll on their backs when playing – just beware that you may be getting lured into a spiky trap!
  • Pregnancy: If your cat is pregnant, it may be more comfortable for her to lie on her back with her stomach exposed.
  • Illness: If your cat is suffering from a headache, or perhaps some form of abdominal pain, it could cause it to roll onto its back. As such, your kitty will show you its primordial pouch but will likely attack you if you try to touch it.
  • They are way too hot: We can all get a bit hot sometimes, and seeing as cats don't sweat like humans do, they will often spread themselves out as much as possible to cool down.

Keep an eye out and pay attention to the context that surrounds your cat's behavior. You don't want to get hurt, so you should understand why your cat shows you its belly before you go in for stomach rub.

Rubbing a cat's belly

If your cat has been presenting its heavenly belly upwards, shining that glistening fur into your wanting eyes, it's quite likely that you have reached down to give it a belly rub. Upon making contact, you have probably been victim to a number of different responses. Sometimes you will be greeted with contented purring, and other times you will be greeted with tooth and claw.

It's important to understand a few things: The skin of your cat's belly is extremely important, and houses all of its internal organs, making it the most exposed and weak point on your kitty's body. As an incredibly instinctive animal, your cat will try to stop anyone and anything from touching it on such an exposed spot.

On top of that, your cat's hair follicles are particularly sensitive on the belly and instinctively trigger immediate and uncontrollable responses. When you touch a cat's belly, these responses will likely kick in, causing aggression, fear, anxiety, and a great deal of bitter annoyance.

As a result, you shouldn't touch your cat on the belly. We understand that it can be hard to resist, though, so it's worth learning how to do it safely. Indeed, if you can get your cat comfortable with a good belly rub, it may start asking for one more often!

If your cat is sleeping with its belly exposed, it's best to avoid petting it.
If your cat is sleeping with its belly exposed, it's best to avoid petting it.  © Unsplash/Nadezhda Nikolaenko

How to rub a cat's stomach

Rubbing a cat's stomach might seem like a dangerous and difficult task and that is because, to a certain extent, it is. There are a few tips and tricks, however, that can help you give them a smooch and a cuddle safely and happily. They won't always work, of course, but it's worth a try.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help rub a cat's stomach:

  • Come in from the side, not from over the head or bum.
  • Start by giving them a pat on the top of their head, then a little chin scratch, and then slowly migrate down south
  • Never pat a sleeping kitty
  • If your cat is clearly feeling wild and or playful, it's best to steer clear
  • Start on the side of their stomach, then move slowly towards the central belly button region

Be careful when giving your cat a belly rub. Remember what we said about it being a very sensitive area and always go in carefully and cautiously.

Beware of the Venus cat trap

The famous Venus cat trap is when your cat lies on its back, paws outstretched and belly in full view, only for you to go in for a rub and get clawed from all sides. Your kitty will leap inwards, using its two spiked claws and its two hind legs to hold onto you and stop you from moving your arm. In all likelihood, it will also start kicking like an absolute madman.

This is an extremely common behavior and one well worth paying attention to if you want to stay as scratch-free as can be. It'll usually occur when your cat's in a playful mood and isn't necessarily about hurting you. Whatever the case, beware of the Venus cat trap - that's gotta hurt!

Why does my cat let me rub her belly?

If your cat lets you touch its belly, it's a sign of true affection.
If your cat lets you touch its belly, it's a sign of true affection.  © Unsplash/Jonathan Fink

If your cat doesn't mind being touched on the belly and allows for plenty of belly rubs, it's a sign of true love. As we have established, the belly is your cat's most sensitive area, and most cats won't be OK with a belly rub right-off the bat. Instead, you need to earn their trust and allow time for them to get used to the idea – even after fifteen years, though, most cat's won't love a belly rub.

With all this in mind, your cat must be incredibly trusting, incredibly affectionate, and incredibly attached to you if it is letting you rub its belly. See it as a positive and wonderful sign, not something to sniffed at or taken for granted.

Cat belly rubs can be dangerous!

While your cat doesn't usually want to cause pain or hurt you, belly rubs can sometimes be a point of contention in a feline-human relationship. Playful cats may simply be exercising the Venus cat trap techniques, but others may have a genuine dislike for being touched on the stomach, so it's a good idea to generally avoid the area.

It's useful to identify which option applies to your beloved feline friend and, if it is a case of the Venus cat trap, trying to train your kitty out of it. Either way, though, it's best not to touch your cat on its stomach lest you want a nasty scratch!

Cover photo: 123RF/Zhuravlevab

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