Can Cats Be Ticklish? Little Known Truths You May Be Ignoring

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 03/11/23 •  9 min read
Cat's neck being tickled

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Ever wondered if cats can be ticklish?

We’ve all grown up thinking that cats hate being tickled.

Well, maybe this has been said because we’ve never been able to catch them when they are!

Have you ever seen your cat being chased by a feather or pointer?

Well, most of the time the chase leads to a playful chase game with no signs of actual ticklishness.

In this post, I will do a deep dive into whether cats are ticklish or not.

I have examined the scientific evidence regarding cats’ sensory organs and how they experience touch.

This is supported by behavioral studies and notable anecdotes from cat owners around the world.

I’ll also share my personal experiences with our furry friends to provide some context of how everyday cat owners interact with their felines.

Do cats have ticklish spots? Let’s find out.

Can Cats Feel Ticklish?

Some cats are more ticklish than others, but most will react when you stroke or rub their bellies and feet.

The reaction may be slight, such as a change in breathing or a twitch of the head, but it’s still there.

Some cats even seem to enjoy being tickled.

They may purr while they’re being stroked or rubbed in certain spots, which indicates they like what you’re doing to them.

Where are cats ticklish?

Dr. Dimock explains that ticklish places in a cat include the:

While cats are unable to laugh, they do make particular movements and exhibit certain behaviors when tickled.

There is a difference, however, between a twitch, itch, and being ticklish.

You may notice a cat’s skin twitch if you pet it along its back in a specific location.

This is a nerve reflex, not a ticklish reaction.

Your cat may be itchy due to:

How do you know if your cat is ticklish?

Cats are feline creatures, and it can be hard to know what they are thinking and feeling.

They have a wide range of facial expressions, with the eyes, ears, and whiskers all playing a part.

There are two ways to determine whether or not your cat is ticklish:

  1. You can watch their behavior when petting or brushing them in the same spot repeatedly.  If they seem uncomfortable or agitated, they may be sensitive there.
  2. You can also try gently scratching or tapping on the area with one finger and observing their response. If they seem uncomfortable or agitated at all, then they are ticklish and you should avoid this area when you’re grooming them.

Do cats like it when you tickle them?

Cats, like humans, have different personalities and can be very independent.

Some cats are more affectionate and cuddly than others.

Some cats like to have their bellies rubbed, while others dislike it.

That’s why it’s so important to understand how your cat thinks and feels.

But when it comes to tickling, most cats aren’t fans of this type of playtime activity because it can be seen as an attack on their independence and self-control, things they value quite highly!

Some cats will even bite or scratch when they’re being tickled because those actions help them get away from the person who’s doing the tickling in the first place!

If your cat seems to enjoy being tickled or petted on the belly, this may be a sign that she’s feeling relaxed around you.

Cats will often roll onto their backs as a sign of trust and affection for their owners.

A cat who feels comfortable enough with you to do this will probably enjoy being stroked or tickled on her belly as well.

On the other hand, if your cat doesn’t seem interested in being touched at all, it could be because she’s stressed out.

If your cat is anxious or scared of being handled in any way, this can lead to aggressive behavior like biting and scratching when you try to pet her.

Watch this 1-minute video showing how a cat is reacting to tickling.

What happens if you tickle your cat?

It depends on the cat.

Some cats love being tickled and will purr loudly when being touched in this way.

Do not overdo it because it can become annoying.

Others, however, hate being tickled and will try to scratch you or bite you instead.

If your cat does not like being tickled then don’t keep doing it.

He may also try to run away from you if he doesn’t enjoy being tickled.

Where are cats most ticklish?

Cats have a lot of nerve endings in their lips and chin, which makes sense since they use these areas as a communication tool.

They also have very delicate whiskers, so it’s no wonder they’re so sensitive to touch around their face.

Cats are particularly sensitive around their neck area, so if your cat doesn’t like being touched there then perhaps it’s best to avoid this area altogether when it comes to playing games with your pet.

However, if yours does enjoy being stroked here then you should give it a go!

Cats have several “hot spots” that are more sensitive than others.

These include:

Some cats will tolerate being stroked all over while some will not.

If you have a cat that enjoys being stroked, try stroking them in different areas to see what they like best.

The best way to find out is by trying it out!

Use a feather if you want to make it even more exciting.

Are cats ticklish on their paws?

Yes, cats are ticklish on their paws.

Each toe has its nerve ending, so when one of them gets touched, it sends a signal to the brain telling it how much pressure is being applied and where it’s coming from.

They are also able to detect vibrations through their paws as they walk over different surfaces like carpets and hardwood floors.

This helps them keep their balance while moving around in your house or apartment complex.

A cat’s feet are very sensitive, and they will often use them to play with each other, or even with humans!

If you rub your cat’s foot and he purrs, then you know he’s enjoying that.

If he suddenly starts scratching you with his claws, then it means he’s not pleased with what you’re doing.

Cat laying on the floor showing underbelly

Are cats ticklish on their back?

Yes, cats are ticklish on their back.

This is the most common and easiest place to tickle a cat.

It’s also where most people start their tickling adventure with their pets.

The back has lots of fur and skin, so there is plenty to play with.

 If your cat enjoys being stroked or scratched on his back, try scratching it gently but firmly in a circular motion.

This will get your pet used to the feeling of being tickled before you move on to more intense stimulation.

If you are looking for a way to make your cat feel good, try rubbing the back of your cat.

You will notice that it will make your cat purr with delight.

A cat’s back is an area that is sensitive to touch, but it doesn’t mean that all cats are ticklish on their backs.

Some cats love being scratched on their backs while others don’t like it at all!

There are many reasons why some cats don’t like being scratched on their backs, including:

Are cats ticklish on their belly?

Yes, cats are ticklish on their belly.

It contains a lot of nerve endings that make for lots of fun for both you and your pet!

 Some cats like having their bellies rubbed gently while others prefer something more intense like firm scratching.

Cats are ticklish on their belly and will start to purr right away when you start to tickle them there.

This is because they’re getting a lot of pleasure from the sensations they’re feeling in that area of their body.

It’s very easy to tell when a cat is happy or not happy: if they’re purring and rubbing up against you, they’re happy.

If they’re hissing, growling, or trying to get away from you, then they’re probably not so happy.

Can cats laugh?

No, cats can’t laugh.

Cats do not have the physical ability to laugh as humans do.

However, you can see signs of amusement in our cats when they are playing or when you tickle them.

Cats don’t have the same facial muscles as humans and other primates, so they can’t make human-style expressions or sounds like laughter.

They will also vocalize in what we interpret as a laugh.

In general, the purr is the sound most often associated with happiness in cats.

It’s a pleasurable sound made by the larynx and diaphragm, and it helps communicate contentment and friendliness.


Pretty much every cat owner has probably noticed their cat’s reaction to being pet on the head or neck.

However, no two cats are the same.

Personally, each one of our cats is ticklish in its way.

Honey is less able to tolerate tickling, especially on her head and underbelly.

Bandit purrs very loudly and his ears are sensitive to tickling.

Gracie is more sensitive in general but likes neck and chin tickles more than anything.

Grab a feather and tickle your cat and let me know how it goes!

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.

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