I moved with my girl, who owns a cat, and the experience has been "instructive" so far. He would wake us up every morning scratching the door, and that would make me crazy for a long time, until I decided to buy a kid's water-gun, and spray him every time he would do that. After a week, I could sleep without problems.

I have used the same method to correct some some bad habits, but now I have come across one that I am uncertain how to approach it.

Sometimes, when I am tired and I lay on the bed, he comes next to me, and lays with his belly up, to be cuddled. But when he has had enough of it, instead of just going away, he scratches me. I would like to teach him a better way to communicate "I have had enough", but I am not sure how can I achieve such goal.

Does anyone has any idea?


3 Answers 3


That's how cats communicate "I've had enough". Watch your cat's body language throughout your petting session and you'll see it change from relaxed contentment to more tense and action-ready, up until the point that he scratches you.

Watch for signs like wide open, alert eyes, twitchy ears and whiskers, fidgety paws, and a lashing or thrashing tail. These might be endearing or cute to look at, but they're all very clear communications that your cat is getting perturbed. Keep your eyes out for these signs and stop petting when you notice them. It would be unfair to punish the cat for a reaction that you're causing by being inattentive.

  • 1
    In addition to watching the body language, cats don't express the desire to be petted by lying on their backs and exposing their bellies. For cats, showing their belly is merely a sign of trust. Many cats would get angry and possibly bite or scratch immediately if you tried. Other cats will tolerate it to some extent, or the rare super friendly one might actually enjoy it, but I think this cat might be more of the kind of tolerates it until they're super done with it type. So it might be a good idea to simply limit petting the cat to a very short period when it's in this position.
    – Kai
    Jun 5, 2017 at 17:04
  • @Kai "I'm showing you my soft, fluffy, tempting belly in the trust that you won't touch it at all." Yeah basically. Cats can't handle marathon petting sessions the same way dogs can.
    – sleddog
    Jun 5, 2017 at 17:19

I'm afraid that in this situation, it's the human that needs to be trained, not the cat. He likes belly rubs, but only a few, and he doesn't have the language to tell you "thank you, that's enough now". But his body is telling you in many ways that you haven't noticed. He probably tenses up, the tip of his tail twitches, his ears go back, or there are other signs. Until you learn to recognise the signs, make sure to always leave him wanting more by keeping the cuddling sessions short.


Belly rubs are a sign of intimate trust from a cat as this is the most vulnerable part of the body. My cat and I have been together 8 years and I don't often touch his belly. When I do it's just for a few seconds. I know he will let me but I also know it's a very special privilege he grants me, one to be indulged conservatively. Also just because a cat shows you its belly doesn't mean they want a rub. Often it's just meant as a display of trust. I don't recommend disciplining with a water gun or any other method. The cat will just associate the unpleasant experience with you, not with the unwanted behaviour. After a while the cat will become frightened of you. If you want to stop a behaviour you have to make it unpleasant in a way that is totally unassociated with you. Eg double sided sticky tape on the door . Or just leave the door open do he doesn't need to scratch it in the first place.

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