Cats: Russian Blues are the most fearful and Turkish Vans the most aggressive, according to personality research

Letting your cat choose when they want to be petted can improve your relationship — and also save you from being bitten or scratched — a study has found.

Feline behavior experts from Nottingham Trent University have developed a set of interaction guidelines to help pet owners – which they have dubbed ‘CAT’.

These advise giving their cats choice and control (C), paying attention (A) to their pet’s behavior and body language, and thinking about where they touch (T) their cat.

When these simple rules are followed, the team found that cats are less likely to behave aggressively towards humans and are also more affectionate.

Letting your cat choose when they want to be petted can improve your relationship — and also save you from being bitten or scratched — a study has found. Pictured: A tin can bunts a man

According to study leader Lauren Finka – an expert in feline behavior from Nottingham Trent University – the key to ensuring your cat is happy and comfortable when you’re together is to make sure that it controls the interactions.

A good place to start, she explained, is to reach out to your cat and let her decide if she wants to interact — if she wants to, she’ll most likely rub up against you.

Owners should allow their cat to wander off if they wish and resist the temptation to follow the feline or pick it up, as this takes away the cat’s sense of control, the researchers explained.

Cats are easily overstimulated by petting. Signs that a cat may want you to stop petting it may include wagging its tail, turning its head away, turning or flattening its ears, shaking its head, licking its nose, trying to move away, or waving the fur on the back.

Other behaviors may include if the cat freezes, stops purring, stops rubbing against you, suddenly starts grooming, or quickly turns its head to face you.

Cats are easily overstimulated by petting.  Signs that a cat may want you to stop petting it may include wagging its tail, turning its head away, turning or flattening its ears, shaking its head, licking its nose, trying to move away, or waving the fur on the back.  Continuing to pet a cat at this stage can force it to resort to less subtle messages – like scratching (pictured)

Cats are easily overstimulated by petting. Signs that a cat may want you to stop petting it may include wagging its tail, turning its head away, turning or flattening its ears, shaking its head, licking its nose, trying to move away, or waving the fur on the back. Continuing to pet a cat at this stage can force it to resort to less subtle messages – like scratching (pictured)

Continuing to pet a cat at this stage may force her to resort to less subtle messages of her discomfort, including scratching, hissing, or biting you.

As part of their study, Dr. Finka and his colleagues also looked at where cats like to be petted the most – the base of their ears, around their cheeks and under their chin being the primary petting positions.

According to the team, it’s often wise to avoid touching a cat’s belly and base of a cat’s tail – as well as to be careful when petting its back – especially with an unfamiliar feline, although some cats will enjoy being petted here.

“The results demonstrate a clear preference among cats for a more ‘hands-off’ approach to petting, which ultimately allows them to call most punches,” Dr. Finka said.

“Cats aren’t necessarily known for being overly expressive when it comes to communicating how they feel.”

“This can often cause problems when petting, as many cats can feel a little uncomfortable at times, but it’s not always easy for us to understand,” she concluded.

“The results demonstrate a clear preference among cats for a more ‘hands-off’ approach to petting, which ultimately allows them to call most punches,” Dr. Finka said.

“While each cat has a wonderfully unique personality, they often share fundamental similarities, as this new study shows,” said JoAnna Puzzo, feline wellness manager at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

“Cats can be incredibly subtle when expressing their likes and dislikes, and as a result their behavior can be misunderstood or completely ignored.”

“By using these simple yet effective new ‘Cat’ guidelines, owners will be able to better understand how their cat is feeling and adapt the way they interact with each other to ensure their pet is happy and relaxed.”

To help them refine the CAT guidelines, the team monitored brief interactions between the human participants and 100 felines at Battersea Cattery in London.

Each participant interacted with six cats – three before receiving training on the CAT guidelines, then three after.

The researchers found that the cats were much less likely to show signs of discomfort or behave aggressively when people followed directions.

The same cats were also more likely to show friendly behaviors towards participants and seemed more comfortable during interactions that took place after training, the team noted.

The full results of the study have been published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

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