The Art & Science of the cat cuddle: A tutorial for humans.

For those dog owners and people who have had limited exposure to cats, this post may surprise or even shock you.  Without question, you'll swear off cats forever, and feel justified in doing so.  But 'cat people' will nod and understand everything here.  They also know that reward is 100% worth the substantial effort.

When it comes to cuddling with people, some cats want none of it. Ever. Other cats are lap whores, but most cats need some convincing in order to engage in a real cuddle.   For either type of cat, the choice has to be 100% theirs.  If they think that they are being cajoled, they will show you 'the butt' (i.e. they'll walk away) and that will be the end of it. Pun intended. No cuddle for you.

Here are the steps of the cuddle, using Samantha as our typical wary cat:
"You think you're worth a cuddle? Convince me."

  1. She pre-considers cuddling with you: whether on the bed, on your lap, or next to you on the sofa.  As we raised Samantha without knowing how wrong it was, she may also be on the countertop or dining table next to (or in) your food.  Do NOT attempt to sway her toward the cuddle at this early stage as it will certainly force her to give you the butt.
  2. She is now considering a cuddle. You can "pat" the area upon which you would like her to settle.  A couple of pats with the hand on your lap or the sofa will get your point across.  Often you need to repeat this 49 times, while she watches you very carefully and contemplates your generous offer.  Her eyes may shift from side to side as she thinks long and hard about your proposition.
  3. If she likes your suggested location, she will go and stand in that spot for a very long time, in further consideration of a cuddle. Thinking. Considering. You might need to pat the area again. Or 49 more times. You might even be able to pet her with encouraging words without having her run. Take your chances. But do NOT attempt to force her to sit or lie down, or she'll give you the butt and maybe even scream as she runs away. The neighbors might consider calling the SPCA.
  4. Now she has decided to cuddle in your desired location, and she may attempt to sit or lie down.  If it is at the beginning of the sitting process and you try to force her to sit or lie down faster because your impatience is getting the better of you, then she'll give you the butt and run away, screaming. Neighbors will probably now call the SPCA. Sometimes she'll hover, half-seated for a short time, still deciding if this is the right choice. Do not interfere with the hovering process.
  5. Now she is committed to the cuddle and is in the process of lying down. If she is more than half-way down to the cuddling position, you can feel fairly safe in now establishing contact and helping her down all the way.  She will probably go down with a huge 'thud' and be dead-weight. This is probably from sheer exhaustion. At this point you can pet and cuddle her. In fact, if you don't do so, she'll scream at you and the neighbors will definitely call the SPCA.
  6. If she is on your lap, she will remain there until your bladder is just about to burst.  You don't dare ever move her after all the work it took to get her there in the first place. 
Pre-considering a cuddle
Double cuddle (Charlotte-RIP, Samantha's mom is on Derek)

Full cuddles for me every single night. How lucky am I?

    Now let's use Ellie as the model of a perfect, easy lap whore.  She will cuddle any time, anywhere. 
    Ellie was born a lap cat (and avid blog reader?)

    1. You attempt to pick her up for a cuddle (your choice), she will squirm out of your arms, scream and give you the butt.  SPCA will be alerted.  Or maybe PETA.
    2. Defeated, you decide to sit in a chair/couch or lie on a couch/bed.
    3. Within 4.5 seconds of you settling, she will leap on you and fall dead-weight on your lap into a very deep cuddle. You are now trapped. This was 100% her choice.
    4. Once in place, she will remain there for hours, usually until your bladder is about to burst and your kidney is infected.  Often she will walk all over your boobs just when and where it hurts the most and then park herself on your belly while you are lying on a sofa, using a laptop. Next time, consider Depends or a catheter.
    5. If you are reading a funny blog or email, you will watch her wobble up & down as you giggle. Still she won't budge. When you go to comment on the post, and you can't see the keyboard, you end up typing something like: k;llpi;===== (the = seems to be where you think that the backspace button is located when you are blocked by a small but heavy, cheeky cat).  
    Trapped and in need of a catheter
    The car cuddler strikes
    ...and again

      So there you have it.  Different cats.  Different cuddling styles.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

      Q:  Have you had cat-cuddling experience and if so wjlouyo;l'[iujul'--=====?  Are you a dog person and have no idea what I am talking abmtyou';s][p'=----====?


      the actor's diet said...

      i wish i could cuddle with a cat but sadly i'd be a sneezing water-eyed mess. with hives. :(

      Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga said...

      My cats never liked to cuddle. The would do the cat freak out on me and claw me and kick and it just never ended well so I stopped trying. hah!

      Amy said...

      Haha, this is hilarious! I totally have Cat Type 1 (called Charlotte). She "tolerates" us humans but that's about as far as her love goes....unless it's cold.....or she's hungry, in which case...she's your best friend.

      My other cat is completely different. He doesn't allow lap visits at all, but if I lie in bed and it's winter he will cuddle in behind my legs and happily snooze there all night long, taking up half the bed to himself while my husband and I share the other half :s

      Lindsay and James Cotter said...

      oh my gosh ellie, I need some of that lovin! how does do that? quite the cuddle pro if I do say so myself! You've trained her well Deb.

      teabagginit said...

      i love this! i'm such a cat person! i had one growing up that was not a cuddler (and i still have the cat scratch scars to prove it) but i have another right now that is, not only slightly obese, but completely co-dependent and needy! i swear i have to "lift with my legs" to pick her up. i need one of the support belts! needless to say, she loves to cuddle! i just wish she didn't overheat me everytime she laid on my lap! :)

      Anonymous said...

      100% nodding!
      Yes as I am the crazy cat lady, I love cats! Their attitude and sass - it's purrfect!
      I like dogs too but kitties have my heart!
      My Sinbad would always cuddle - he slept with me as a kitten and stayed right under me. When I read a book or newspaper, he'd come plop down right on top (I usually had paper spread out on floor or bed) of the paper, right in the middle, so that I would have to give him attention! He had such a great "cattitude" as I called it. It was all his terms. When he was done with me petting him, he'd bite me! It was such a game. I miss him so much :(
      We have another, Buttercup, and she's a skittish oddball. She's never liked being petted, cuddled, or held. If you sneeze, she runs off. Very bizarre!

      I just love Ellie - those pics are priceless! And I love seeing sweet Charlotte too :(
      Thanks for the tutorial!
      PS - I always tell people that children are for people who can't have Cats!!! (or dogs) tee hee!! N


      McIntosh said...

      In love....actually as a kid wanted to be a cat when I grew up (:

      This WILL be shared with fellow cat lovers...thank you!

      The pic with Ellie peeking around the crook of your elbow is priceless.

      Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

      LYnn- ah well, JUlius is happier for it!

      Averie- those were the kinds of cats I encountered until I met Derek. In my 20s we baby-sat two amazing loving cats and within a week, we had Samantha & Charlotte.

      Amy- -good taste in cat names! Derek can relate to being pushed off the bed. He gets his third of the bed and has now accepted it after 16 yrs :-)

      Linds- Oh trust me....THAT is the reason that we got Ellie- she popped out of the womb that way. When I first laid eyes on her, she was asleep on my neighbor's shoulder. Done deal.

      Teabag- "Lift with my legs" hahaha! Charlotte was big like that. We called her "big boned." Why I can't be kinder to myself in that regard, I don't know!

      Missy- Aw, Sinbad sounded divine. Charlotte was skittish like buttercup but she gradually became more loving. SOmetimes that happens.

      McIntosh- aw, that's sweet that you'd pass it along to other cat lovers- would be fun to get a non-blog-reader's take! And yes, that photo is quite possibly one of my favorites. I honestly have hundreds- close to a thousand photos of her in the car in varying degrees of cuteness, but her face in that one just kills me!

      Eden said...

      Having the pleasure to cuddle with your cats, I'd say you are for sure not making any of this up (even SPCA bit).

      That picture of ellie on derek's lap while hes o the computer is priceless! I want that on a postcard! How old was she? she looks teeny! And speaking of which, I'm sure ellie reads more blogs than me. She probably entered a few giveaways so dont be surprised if you find some random stevia at your door.

      Carbzilla said...

      The car cuddling pics are just ridiculously cute! I think Ink is our first hesitant snuggler. Worse, he tempts you with the belly up position but punishes you if you want to rub said belly. Ahhh, I can't resist the belly!

      Mia used to flop down against you so hard it was a miracle she didn't bruise your thigh!

      Big hugs and snuggles!

      sophia said...

      I've never had a cat before, but I like cats WAY better than dogs. I like independent, cranky creatures like myself, I suppose. Dogs annoy me with their constant need for attention and love. So Deb, I've been really wanting to get a kitten...but given my work hours, I wonder if that's a good idea...

      Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

      Dog person. No idea what you're talking about. ;)

      Just kidding. I love Ellie.

      Jenn said...

      Best. Post. Ever.

      I laughed out loud multiple times. I think MC is halfway between Sam and Ellie.

      BTW I miss your kitties and you!

      Jessica said...

      LMAO. Oh, this is so true. I have one of each. Loki is type 1 - cuddles are STRICTLY on his time, which lately seems to be when I'm trying to do my 100 pushups. And if I don't snuggle with him then, he'll bite me - usually on a love handle. LOL
      Meanwhile, there's Lovie - who lives up to his name in spades! Forget trying to read anything - he's IN my face. :)
      I love them both and wouldn't change a thing!

      iheartvegetables said...

      Awww this makes me wish I had a kitty!!! I wanted one SO bad when I was little but my mom said no!

      Ameena said...

      We rescued a cat when I was about 18 and that poor thing must have been treated really badly because even though it lived with us for more than a decade it still didn't like to cuddle...he kept his distance! But we were still sad when he died because even with his aloofness he still let his presence be known...

      Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

      Eden- Ellie was just a few months old when that photo was taken. I checked and there was a ton of stevia at the door and apparently she entered some protein balls in some bake sale too! Crazy!

      Tiff- Oh Ink! The belly torment! What's the male version of a temptress?

      Sophia- unless you want all of your clothes and shoelaces eaten, I think it's best to be home supervising a kitten for a while anyway.

      HEab- dogs are so simple compared to cats. No game playing or posturing. I had dogs the first half of my life!

      Jenn- the girls miss their ventura auntie!

      Jessica- Loki is just trying to increase your training volume :-) And LOVE the name Lovie! <3

      Iheart- well, there's always tomorrow.

      Ameena- Aww :-(

      Abby said...

      You know I love this post, as I am basically a cat myself--show me love when I want it, otherwise back off.

      And despite my Ice Queen status, I will hug any cat (or dog or other furry animal) anytime, anywhere, any way I can...

      Purrfect ;)

      azusmom said...

      LOVE THIS! It's perfect. Or, um, purrfect?
      We have dogs, but I had cats AND dogs growing up. I'd LOVE to have a cat now but Hubby's allergic.
      One of our cats would cuddle in my lap and no one else's because, apparently, I gave good kitty massages. But I also remember getting extremely upset one time: I'd just gotten some distressing news, was home alone, and started to cry. The cat came over and sat with me until I calmed down, then let me cuddle her until I felt better. People say cats aren't as affectionate as dogs, but I disagree.

      Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream said...

      Loved this post!

      Gidget (my cat) is somewhere in the middle of the 2. If she's in the mood for a cuddle you can get up 7 times and she'll still hop up. You also have about a 25% chance of starting a cuddle with her (ie through knocking her over or picking her up). Although I'm the only one that ever flies with :)

      Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

      Abby- I, too feel that I am a cat. I can curl up in the sunny side of a room and be happy for hours. And I'll like someone, but they do need to earn my trust. Funny, b/c I always thought that I was a 'dog person' until I had a cat love me.

      Azus- I have heard that cats choose their people, not the other way around. So true!

      Steph- Gidget- cute! And you're the 2nd person to say that your cat is somewhere between our two. I guess I'm wrong on the definite deliniations. haha 'knocking her over' made me laugh!

      Julie said...

      i'm defffffffffffffinitely a dog person! but i do love your love for cats haha. although sometimes i think jj (my dog) thinks hes a cat because there have been times i've seen him 'try' to jump up on things that are clearly out of his territory and he defiinitely has 9 idk haha

      Catherine said...

      I hopped on over here via Meals and Moves and I'm so glad I did. This post is hilarious and as a cat obsessed girl its spot on. Great blog!

      janetha @ meals & moves said...

      I knew your hyperlink was going to be to Eden on the funny blog.

      I LOVE YOUR CATS! I love cats in general. We talked about it. Blue, my cat, was NOT a cuddler. In fact, in his 14 years it was very rare to get him to sit on my lap. He was such a snob.

      I love all the photos--but really, Ellie is something else. She has facial expressions and mannerisms like no cat I've ever seen or met. She is something else.

      Oh, and Sam stepping all over the chicken was a crackup.

      I love how you broke it all down to such a science. I was definitely a nodder :)

      Love you lots--counting down the months!

      Carrie (Carre on Vegan) said...

      LOLZ! P.S. I have never used "LOLZ" before but thought it was appropriate from your previous post. :)

      Susan said...

      Have you ever seen this?

      Or this?

      It's kinda what this post reminded me of, all of which is SO TRUE. My dad has a cat named Cashew who loves to go outside and be wild all night long. Then come inside and try to sleep on my stomach while I'm on my laptop. You're right, typing over a purring mass of fur is hard indeed...

      Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

      Julie- I love dogs too. I actually think that Ellie is a Pit Bull in a cat suit.

      Catherine- welcome- glad you stopped by!

      Janetha- Yes, Ellie is "something". She's too adorable to abandon even when she's eating peoples' shoelaces and bikinis. Her expressions kill me on the daily.

      Carrie- Glad you had a LOLZ moment. I never use it either, but I'm honored that you made an exception.

      Susan- no, I never saw those, but speaking of LOLz, I did laugh a lot at them! Cashew- great name!

      Jessica said...

      Haha what a cute cat!!! I love it. can't wait for your sunscreen post. Over the years I have worshiped the sun. I am starting to get older and a little more aware of my health and my body, so I made the decision to wear sunscreen on every outdoor occasion this summer (which will be a first!) and I love the way it smells, so really it is a win win ;) Right now I am short on muscles! I am getting married in 3 months exactly and need to tone up quick!

      Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

      Jessica- SPoiler alert! You need sunscreen even indoors, unless it's dark!! :-0 THanks for the comment and best wishes on your upcoming nuptials :-)

      Sarah said...

      Your cats are adorable! Growing up my family had a cat that hated everyone except my Dad. But I adopted a cat in December 2010 and I call him a sneak attack cuddler. He waits till I'm doing something like painting my nails or working on computer to cuddle. He also likes to sleep behind my knees when I'm in bed and I'm terrified that I'm going to roll over on top of him.

      Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

      Sarah- oh yeah, they need to cuddle when you're on the computer- that's a given! The other night Ellie was sleeping on top of me and I accidentally tossed her off the bed. Then the same night she was sleeping next to me and I rolled on top of her! (she escaped!) Haha poor thing!

      naomi hastings said...

      I have a small Ragdoll cross cat snuggled in bed with me right now. 100% her choice. She often sleeps on my pillow ( never my partner unless desperate ie I'm away) she paws at my head fishing under the cover till I hold it up. I sleep on my side facing out the bed. She then curls round and plonks down deep purring. As close to my face as possible often trying to lick my nose or stroke my face. She will stay for hours if she chooses! I can persuade her by lifting duvet but still her choice!

      Chariese Wetzler said...

      My one year old lynx point Siamese Zoey and i have had a nightly cuddle routine since she was 3 months old. It was her idea. She first wears herself out attacking the blankets while i sit in bed writing or on my tablet. Then she'll start walking back and forth across my lap until i put away what I'm doing and lay down. As soon as my head hits the pillow she crawls onto my chest and i scratch under her ears, neck, etc. Then she scoots up to be face to face with me. I give her a peck peck on the nose, she returns the kiss, then nibbles my ear, sometimes give my cheek a nibble. Then she'll nodd off resting her face on mine. She used to sleep all night like that until she got too big. So now We lay like that 15-45 min until she crawls onto the bed next to me for the rest of the night. During the day if i ever want to cuddle i jump into bed and call hr name. When she sees me laying there she'll come over for a quick cuddle.

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