Do cats hug humans?
Want to know if cats like hugging kitties?
We’ve got you covered with this detailed guide!
Find the surprising answer now!
Do Cats Give Hugs?
The short answer is yes.
The real questions are, “WHY do cats give hugs?” and “Do cats LIKE hugs?”
That’s what we’re going to talk about today!
What does a cat hug look like?
Cats use a hugging motion during play and hunting to subdue their “victim” – whether literal or figurative.
Cats will wrap their front legs around another cat, prey, or your arm, kicking with their hind feet, and usually while biting.
If the subject of their attack is not prey (or a territorial feline opponent), they will likely kick and bite lightly – a form of playful affection.
But this isn’t the only time cats give hugs.
Why do cats hug?
That, my friends, is the million-dollar question! In many ways, cats hug for the same reasons we do.
They hug to show affection, to protect, and to feel protected. It’s another way they show trust, and an excuse to be as close to you as physically possible.
Cats may also “hug” to capture their prey, which in some cases is you! Let’s dig a little deeper into each reason! Other times, they may just be mimicking your behavior!
Cats Hugging to Show Affection
Years ago, I rescued a cat from a difficult situation. She had never met me before, but when she was handed to me, she wrapped her paws tightly around my neck and buried her face in my shoulder.
She was looking for security and trusted me to give it to her, without even knowing who I was.
Twelve years later, she still comes to me for hugs! She will stand on her hind legs with her front paws wrapped around my thigh.
When I pick her up, she again clings to my neck to be cuddled – often licking my cheek at the same time, giving rough cat kisses!
I have another cat – formerly feral – who likes to lay on the arm of my easy chair and will wrap his paws around my forearm and nibble at my fingers. He’ll fall asleep like that for hours, holding tight to me as he does.
Stories like mine aren’t uncommon. Talk to just about any cat parent and they’ll regale you with tales that definitely answer the question, “can cats love?”
Of course, there are many reasons for cats hugging humans other than affection, so let’s talk about the next reason: protection.
When Cat Hugging is All About Protection
“My cat hugs my neck when she’s scared!”
“Why does my cat wrap around my arm?”
If either of those questions sound familiar, there’s a very good reason for it.
Cats hugging each other for protection is quite like cats hugging for affection because both require a certain level of trust and respect toward you on your cat’s part.
If you’ve ever observed feral cat behavior, chances are you’ve seen them embracing and thought “why do cats hug each other?”
I have a family of ferals outside my home and while many of them are unrelated, they hug like one big happy family.
It’s not uncommon to see a mama cat hugging her baby, or two older cats embracing each other.
One could guess that a mother cat hugging her babies is trying to calm them and protect them from harm, and two older cats snuggled together may be conserving warmth or guarding each other.
This behavior crosses over to tame cats, as well, except they may view you as a stand-in for mom or a sibling.
When my cat gets scared, she wraps her arms around my neck much the way the toddler embraces his mom: with that sense of urgency, terror, and “please protect me” in her eyes.
The “Cat Hug” Hold: When It’s All About the Prey
Honestly, the “cat hug” prey hold is probably the most common reason for kitty hugs.
As much as we’d love to think that it’s all about love and trust, most cat behavior is prey-driven. It’s just how they’re wired!
My cats will lure me into a false sense of security by rolling onto their back and “hugging” my hand as I pet them.
Then, without warning, they launch into kicking and biting! Kind of makes me wonder, “does my cat like me???” or “What did I do to make you so mad?”
The good news? You didn’t do anything wrong. Your cat views you as a playmate, and this little game of “attack mom’s hand and make her bleed” is just a fun way to hone her hunting skills.
The bad news? It still hurts! I’ve sustained more injuries from my loving cat than from the ferals who live outside! At least they pretty much ignore me or run from me!
Even these painful (to you) attack games are a sign of trust and affection, though. Think about it: your cat wouldn’t be exposing her soft, gooey underside to someone that she didn’t trust to fairly play the game.
Master Mimickers: Cats Copying Your Hugs
Sometimes, cats hug simply because they see you doing it. Hugging with both paws – as opposed to simply draping an “arm” over another cat or human family member – seems to be a trait that cats have learned from us.
Through millennia of sharing our homes, it would be difficult for any creature as smart as a cat not to pick up a few things.
Hugging, of course, isn’t the only thing they have begun to mimic from humans. Meowing is also a trait reserved for communication with humans, and they have even learned a little of our own language.
It’s really not much different than with humans – imagine yourself in a foreign country for years on end.
Even without formal education in the country’s language, eventually, you will begin to associate particular sounds with specific objects, people, or activities.
The difference with cats, of course, is that they lack the biology to mimic our speech – otherwise I’m sure we’d be having full conversations with them in whatever language is spoken around the home.
Cats often don’t choose to be as “trainable” as dogs, but it isn’t for lack of intelligence – they just seem to prefer to make up their own minds.
To Hug or Be HuggeD
So, now that you know everything about cat hugging, maybe you’re wondering if you should go off and hug your cat or let him come to you!
Most cats I’ve met seem to prefer to be doing the hugging, rather than being hugged themselves.
While they like to be secure, and some like to be held, actually holding them tightly restricts their movement and generally makes them uncomfortable (like everything, there are some exceptions to this – some cats love to be swaddled).
Cats also love to knead to show contentment.
This is something they begin as kittens, and it serves multiple purposes, including stimulating milk production in their mother, marking their territory through scent glands in their paws, and making their sleeping surface more comfortable.
The best thing about cat hugs is the effect they have on us.
Being hugged by a cat, or even just having one lay next to you and purr, is great for human mental health, stress management, and even – in some cases – physical health.
There is a great deal of evidence that the frequency of a cat’s purr can aid in healing!
Hugging your cat is beneficial to you both and strengthens the bond between you. Just keep in mind that if your cat begins to struggle, it’s wise to set him down – for his safety, and yours.
We will likely never know all the reasons why cats hug outside of hunting and fighting, but they definitely do.
I am sure some cats do, but mine is not one of them. She mostly just likes to headbutt me LOL.
I love that cats do give hugs! One of my cats loved to give me hugs, but another one of my cats wasn’t into hugs at all.
I said yes they do give hugs before reading the rest of the post. Our cat could be very loving when she wanted to be. That is how cats are, always on their terms.
Cats are amazing creatures and have so much personality. Love seeing all the cat hugs are awesome when they want them.
This makes me miss having my kitty around. He wouldn’t necessarily hug me, but he would come snuggle with me while I was watching tv or going to bed.
This is so sweet. My cat JUST flipped out when I tried to pick her up and then grudgingly came around when she saw I had treats.
Awww! This post makes me smile. The two cats we have right now do not give hugs, they snuggle though and give kisses. Our cat that died about 4 years ago gave BIG hugs though!!
Just 2 days ago I had a stray black Tom kitten come out of the woods! He has 5 toes on both front paws! Everytime he gets in my lap he wants to be up close! He has given me a lot of hugs around my neck! He has also given me kisses on my chin while hugging me! Until 2 days ago I had never seen this kitten! I am also not really a cat person! This will be my first cat to own,,and I’m 42yrs old! Any idea why this cat is this way! Not complaining, but to me it is really strange!
We have two cats in our family. They look alike but could not be more different. One definitely gives hugs.
Sweet post. I thought dogs were the affection pets didnt know cats were huggers.
I honestly never knew cats gave hugs or even how they showed affection as I am more of a dog person
I never thought that cats could give hugs. This is such a cute post. My husband has been wanting to get a cat. Maybe I’ll show him this adorable post.
Aw that’s so sweet! I never knew cats could give hugs and show affection. I have a dog and she loves cuddles!
that’s so sweet! I can’t have a cat for a pet because my daughter has very bad allergies to them… So I took my son to the Humane Society a safe place to adopt animals (cats a one of the animals) NOT to buy, but to pet and get our fill of kitty love. Well this little kitten was so afraid of people, but the worker there asked if we would like to take the kitten into a room to give her lots of love and get her used to people (because she said we looked nice and loving) We did! and my son and I held her tight and talked very sweet to her, she got very comfortable with us and I swear she was hugging us and showing a ton of affection… she was like a new kitten!
love the thought of cats hugging ; )
Aww, that is so sweet! We just found out a street cat has given birth to kittens in our balcony. Since yesterday we are so overjoyed to see those tiny ones with their Mom. I wish to hug them. Happy to know they give hugs. 🙂
My cat hugs me with both paws as I sit in the chair at me desk. He wraps both paws on my shoulder and just sits there for like a couple minutes. He plays with me and knows not to use his back claws. He is very smart. Best cat in the world ?
My cats loves hugs. But only on his term. If I’m lay in bed or on the sofa he’ll come over and shoulder barge into my chest so I’ll hug him. He likes being hugged quite tightly and being as close to me as he can, which Is apparently quite unusual. But then he is a little oddball.
My cat Red will after my shower sit up and stretch his body and front arms up to my neck and give me a hug several times in the morning.
I adopted a 5 month old male kitten (now 6 months) named Mateo. I never knew cats to be affectionate but he is almost too cuddly. I can’t tell you how many times he’s made my arms fall asleep holding him. He could spend hours being held and lolls on his back cradled like an infant. At night he won’t fall asleep unless he’s touching me, usually under the covers and under my chin. And he hugs without biting and scratching. If I stop petting his belly (his fave spot to be touched), he grabs my hand, and pulls it back to him. He seems nearly human. A very needy, but absolutely beloved kitty.
Our 2 kitties, littermates, almost 4 years old, have never been apart! They hug us on a regular basis and almost always sleep on us!
Good Grain free food and purified water, plus lysine vitamins!
Take Good care of your feline friends and they will love you gazillions
My cat doesn’t hug me, but he loves to be hugged. When I put my arms around him, if he’s in the mood, low enough that he could easily jump away, he basically let’s himself fall into them. And as soon as I really close my arms around him he starts to purr, closes his eyes and begins to fall asleep. Now I wonder, is that also because he likes to feel protected or is it simply affection? Because I’ve had quite a few cats in my life and have never seen a behaviour like that.
Aww I saw a video of cat hugging dog and that brought me here https://youtu.be/HvXMVDOhgJ4
My cat when I get a phone call or the alarm goes off on my phone my cat hugs my arm and nuzzle the phone and if she hear somebody talking show me how in the phone really lately
Ha sucks to be you, my cat hugs me and never kicks, my wife says he is codependent