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Why do cats show their bellies?

One minute your cat is purring, the next he or she rolls over and strikes a pose — a belly pose at that! An experienced cat parent knows better than to pet that tempting tummy.  Yet, if it’s not an invitation, why do cats show us their bellies? Here are a few reasons.

Affection

Most people have seen a “belly pose” while petting their cats.  Usually, the cat will purr loudly and roll around before you’ll see his or her tummy.  A belly pose is a display of affection, and it’s best admired from a distance. Don’t make the mistake of petting your cat’s exposed belly, or else you could be in for a nasty scratch from all four paws!  

Submission

As social creatures, cats must learn their position (or social standing) within their group.  Sometimes, this is achieved through trial and error. Perhaps they play too roughly with a higher ranking cat, or they commit some other faux pas.  The cat of higher status may growl or swipe with a warning paw, and then the lower ranking cat will concede by showing his or her belly.

Contentment

Sometimes, cats simply enjoy some tummy time when all is well. Similar to humans, some cats have been known to sleep on their backs with their bellies to the sky.  Since the belly is one of the most vulnerable areas on a cat, cats will only sleep in this position when they feel safe, healthy, and content. If you see your kitty sleeping this way, take it as a sign that you’ve provided your cherished pet with a comfortable cat habitat.

Do you have a photo of your cat showing off his or her fluffy belly?  Share it with us on Instagram!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

Image by Daga_Roszkowska from Pixabay 


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