Are Cats Ticklish?

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Our beloved feline companions have many stereotypes about them, one being that they are highly competent predators. Due to this, it is kind of hard to imagine them in a situation where they are completely helpless. Even if they are pinned, they can wiggle out of it. So, when people ask are cats ticklish, it causes many of them to pause.

Being tickled can make people completely helpless, but it’s hard to imagine cats in a similar situation. So, are cats ticklish? And if so, why? In this article, we will look closely at what causes tickling and find out whether cats can be tickled.

» You might like these 23 Cat Statistics You Should Know in 2022 and Can Cats Have Whipped Cream?

Are Cats Ticklish?

What Is The Tickle Response?

The tickle response is actually an involuntary physical reaction to something touching your skin. It is not necessarily pleasant nor unpleasant, as long as you don’t mind being tickled.

The reason for it is to protect your skin from getting damaged by something foreign touching it. This happens with every part of your body. For example, you might feel the sensation of something sticking into your ear or even something pulling on your hair.

White cat looking upside down

When these occur, you know that something has touched your skin or another body part, and you try to push away whatever it is. But in the case of tickling, the feeling is much more intense than in those situations. Also, unlike in those cases, it does not hurt.

You just feel like something is tickling you, and you want it to stop.

This reaction was first described by Charles Darwin, who was interested in how humans react to external stimuli. He noticed that when someone touches the skin of his arm while he holds a piece of string, he feels the string move through his hand.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that others started studying this phenomenon and discovered that it occurs all over the body. They found that different parts of the body respond differently to different types of stimuli.

Grey cat laying by the window

Some areas of the body are very sensitive to touch and some are insensitive. Areas that are sensitive to touch include: face, neck, chest, back, arms, hands and feet. On the other hand, areas that are less sensitive include: ears, head, and eyes.

So, Are Cats Ticklish?

In fact, cats are quite ticklish, especially in their faces. Cats have a ticklish face mainly due to their whiskers which also act as sensors, detecting any movement around them.

As soon as they sense anything moving nearby, they start to twitch and curl up, trying to avoid whatever it is. It’s not uncommon to see a cat flinching and arching its back whenever someone rubs their nose or chin.

Mad orange kitten

Of course, if the cat gets too ticklish, they may jump up and down or run off. Even if this doesn’t happen, they will probably shake their head vigorously as well.

These movements are usually accompanied by meowing, if the tickling is done by a human and this is a sign to stop tickling them now. If a cat cannot avoid the tickling after telling a person to stop or not finding the cause, they may bite whatever is causing it to make it stop.

Cats are also ticklish in their paws. They can often be seen licking or rubbing their paws after they have been touched or tickled there. This is very similar to a human reaction to having our feet tickled.

This may seem strange, because a cat’s feet are in constant contact with the ground and all the strange objects on it, but tickling is a sensation that happens when an unfamiliar touch occurs.

A cat laying down licking its paw

Since most of the objects on the ground are hard or bristled, being touched gently on the paw is likely to cause a tickle response, due to it being so different from what they are used to.

A thing to note is that cats are sensitive to pain, and it is difficult to tell whether they are being tickled or in pain. Most animals will try to hide their pain, so it can come out as a similar response to being tickled.

They may either bite you or get up and leave. The best way to tell is if their movement is slightly different, or they yelp when you touch them.

So, if you accidentally poke them in the wrong place, they may yelp loudly and scratch furiously. Sometimes, however, they may not show any signs of pain, so keep an eye out.

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Do Cats Like Being Tickled?

Do Cats Like Being Tickled?

Well, we would say yes! A lot of people who own cats say they like being tickled, and often it comes as part and parcel with playing with them. Since pet owners love to play with their cats, this is a win-win.

There are several ways you can play with your cat and incorporate tickling into the play, including petting, scratching, playing with toys, grooming and cuddling. Not only does this give your cat pleasure, but it also helps bond you and your cat together.

Of course, these activities can also be considered playtime for you, provided you don’t do anything harmful to your cat. You should never use force to play with your cat or pinch their skin. Also, you shouldn’t do it during meal times or nap times, since your cat needs to eat and sleep at specific times.

Playing with your cat while he/she is sleeping is okay, though, as long as it doesn’t wake him/her up.

A cat asleep on a chair

However, some owners find it difficult to play, tickle, or do energetic activities with their cat for various reasons, and that’s just fine. Some may find it more comfortable to stroke or groom them instead, while others prefer to play with them using toys.

Still, there are other ways you can play with them without actually touching them. One example is through talking to your cat. Your voice will help calm them down, and they will listen better if the tone of your voice is softer and slower than usual.

Another option is by singing songs to them. Singing songs can be soothing, especially ones that are familiar to you, since it reminds you of happier times with your cat.

Playtime is a great bonding experience between you and your cat, and by incorporating tickling you can make it more fun. When done correctly, it can lead to a stronger relationship and even lifelong friendship between the two of you.

cat laying its head down watching the camera

Plus, it gives you the chance to learn more about your cat and his/her likes and dislikes. If you know your cat well enough, you’ll probably already notice his/her favorite games and activities.

If you’re still unsure, then you can always ask your vet or a friend who owns a cat.


So, cats are ticklish, but unlike humans they are not adverse to it as we are.

Make no mistake, though, there is a point for cats where tickling stops being enjoyable, and they will ask for it to stop.

Although, up until that point, cats will love being tickled.

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A cat getting his chin pet

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