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Why Do Cats Like to Cuddle?
Cat BehaviorCat Facts

Why Do Cats Like to Cuddle?

We love pawsome cat cuddles as much as you do, so we decided to dig into why some cats seem to be cuddlier than others, and what the benefits of cuddling with your cat are. So, whether you have your furry feline on your lap or on your laptop, sit back, relax, and learn a few things about cat cuddles with Basepaws!

Every year, on June 4th, the world takes a moment to celebrate and honor the benefits of the kitty hugs with a "__Hug Your Cat Day" holiday. However, every day can be one where you spoil yourself and your kitty with plenty of cat cuddles!

Why Do Cats Cuddle? 

Cats have snuggled and cuddled with their favorite hoomans throughout history. But have you ever asked yourself why your cat enjoys cuddling so much? In a nutshell, cuddles feel warm, safe, and support emotional well-being. And your kitty knows it! Here are the three main reasons why cuddling is one of the top things to prioritize for your cat.

They snuggle for warmth. You've probably noticed that your cat continually seeks warm and sunny places for napping. Maintaining regular body temperature requires energy, and your cat needs to look for efficient ways to stay cozy while they purr the hours away. A patch of sunlight on the ground or even on the keyboard of your laptop may be some of the sunny places they seek, but nothing beats snuggling up against another furry friend or a hooman!

They snuggle for safety and protection. Seeking warmth, safety, and protection is a feline behavior that traces back to their early days of kittenhood. Young kittens all sleep together in a bundle to keep warm and safe. Most cats continue to crave this feeling into their adult years.

This is why your kitty instinctively looks for warmth, protection, and security when it comes to a nap in your lap. Did you know that cuddling is just one of many behaviors kittens take into adulthood? Purring, kneading, rubbing, and sleeping the mother's neck and face are all kitten-like behaviors that many adult cats instinctively repeat throughout their lives.

They're trying to bond with you. In cat's world, cuddle time is productive bonding time. Your kitty needs you for food, warmth, and shelter, and sometimes all they want is show you how much they love and appreciate you. Your cat's headbutts, cuddles, and purrs are all tokens of affection and appreciation.

Most cats simply cuddle with you for the sake of bonding. And let's face it, this is such a precious thing that we may often crave even more than our kitty does! It's important to provide your pet with lots of attention and love, and cuddling is a purrfect way to ensure they get it.

Why Are Some Cats More Cuddlier Than Others?

Despite the fact that cuddling is considered an overall beneficial activity that traces back to kittenhood, many cats are more timid and/or wild and may not enjoy lots of cuddles. Early socialization is one of the main reasons connected to why some cats are more or less cuddly and affectionate than others. Genetics may play a role, but there is still much to learn about how much this contributes to a cat's personality and level of affection.

Genetics

Feline genetics is an evolving field of study, and it remains unclear how much it plays into the personality profile of a cat. All cats are ultimately individuals, with different personalities and needs that should be taken into account when it comes to how to care for them.

However, here are the top ten breeds that are typically considered as the cuddliest of them all:

  1. Ragdoll

  2. Siamese

  3. Sphynx

  4. Ragamuffin

  5. Scottish Fold

  6. Persian

  7. Tonkinese

  8. Burmese

  9. Birman

  10. Maine Coon 

Learn more in Basepaws' blog on the top ten most cuddly cats.

It is important to keep in mind that cats are individuals and there are many complex factors that can influence a cat's personality, which is why a cat's breed doesn't necessarily guarantee a particular personality profile. A cat breed is simply more likely to have some cats that are more or less affectionate and cuddly than others.

Early Socialization

While it's possible that genetics may play a role in whether or not a cat develops a cuddly and sweet personality, the environment plays an undeniable and essential role in the expression of this potential.

The earliest months are considered to be the most critical period in the social development of kittens. Every single experience in this period will play its own role in the formation of the kitty’s personality. For instance, cats that are gently handled and stimulated with positive reinforcement and play early on typically become more social and confident later in life. These kittens are often braver, explore more, mature faster, and handle stress better as they grow.

Cats who aren't well socialized or who are exposed to traumatic experiences early on will be more likely to develop fearful tendencies or other ways to cope with stress. They are at a higher risk of being shy, cautious, timid, and/or even aggressive as adults. Early social development is important for your cat's emotional and mental well-being, and is also considered a big factor when it comes to how cuddly your adult cat will be.

Benefits of Cuddling

Now we know more about why a cat looks for cuddles, but there is more to cuddling than just warmth, safety, and bonding. Cuddling is actually _healthy‚ÄĒ_for both you and¬†for your cat!¬†In humans, hugging is considered¬†an effective remedy against stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. This is because a¬†welcomed, loving hug promotes the synthesis of oxytocin ("hormone of bonding" or "love drug") in the brain.

The same rule applies for cat cuddles, too. In a study by Gourkow et al (2014), 139 cats were split into two groups. The first group of cats were "gentled", meaning that they were pet and talked to by people four times a day for at least 10 minutes, for a total of 10 days. Cats who were initially less social or even aggressive were gentled with the aid of tool.

The second group was the control group,. Cats in this group were completely deprived of the attention shown to the "gentled" group, which is similar to what many street and/or shelter cats experience on a daily basis. The results showed that the cats who were gentled regularly (including the initially antisocial cats) were less likely to have unbalanced moods. They also had higher levels of immunoglobulin A, which are antibodies that form the first line of defense against infections to protect the cat's health.

In contrast, the control cats experienced a significant increase in coat shedding (a sign of stress) and disproportionally developed respiratory diseases. This study shows that interaction with people and "gentling" practices are extremely important for the health and well-being of all cats. So, it's a good idea to make sure that you provide your kitty with daily attention, love, and gentling practices in a way that works best for them.

Gentling is not only beneficial for cats, but also for humans, too. "Recent research has shown that the soothing sounds of a kitty can aid your body...their purrs fluctuate between 20-140 Hz, a frequency range which has been proven to be medically therapeutic." - explained Kelli Bender. Purrs help lower stress and blood pressure, as well as the effects of dyspnea (difficult breathing) and depression. In cats, they promote the healing of infections, bones, and muscles. So, hug your purring kitty right now and to support each other's health and happiness together!

Get To Know Your Cat Better with Basepaws 

As a loving cat parent, you want to know everything you possibly can about your furry feline friend. Basepaws gives you the opportunity to do just that with our Breed + Health Cat DNA Test. Learn about the genetics behind your cat's unique breed profile, health, and appearance. Just one test unlocks important information that will help you proactively care for your cat's health and everyday needs. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to become a well-informed cat parent and do everything you can to cuddle with your cat for many years to come!