Why Do Bengal Cats Hate Being Held?

Do you own a Bengal cat? If so, you may have noticed that they don’t enjoy being held as much as other breeds of cats. In fact, they can be downright fiesty when it comes to being handled! So why do Bengal cats hate being held?

Holding your cat to share warmth and affection feels lovely for an owner – and often for a cat too – but some breeds do not enjoy this form of contact, and the Bengal is one of them. With its roots in wild ancestry, the Bengal does not enjoy being restrained in any form. Therefore if you try to hold them, they will likely fight against it.

Continue reading to discover why some Bengals hate being held and what you can do to make them more comfortable. In addition, explore how you and your Bengal can express affection to each other in different ways.

Do Bengal Cats Like To Be Touched And Held?

The Bengal personality is an interesting one. While they are highly sociable and love to be involved in everything you do, they also prefer to be a ‘floor cat,’ meaning that their four paws constantly contact the ground.

In terms of petting or holding, every cat is different, and the amount of holding a Bengal will tolerate (or enjoy) will ultimately depend on its personality.

It’s important to remember that cats are, in essence, wild animals. Cat litter was invented in 1947, so the first time that cats were fully domesticated as indoor pets was reasonably recently in their history. This means that being looked after by people is a relatively new concept for our feline friends; and one that some breeds may still be getting used to.

Evolution can take time, which means a domestic cat’s fight or flight response may still be very active, and touching or picking them up could cause them to panic or think you are attacking them.

How Strong Is My Bengals Sense Of Touch?

A cat’s sense of touch is far more developed than humans; it is the first sense they develop after birth. So when a cat makes its final hunting strike, it’s not based on what it sees through its eyes; rather what it feels with its whiskers.

Most of us are familiar with the whiskers on the side of a cat’s face – but are you aware that cats also have whiskers on their legs and feet? The whiskers are an area you’ll want to avoid stroking your Bengal as they are extremely sensitive, and even the slightest touch can feel overstimulating.

Where Is The Best Place To Stroke My Bengal?

You may notice that your Bengal will often rub its head and feet around your legs or its favorite chair. This is because they want to transfer their scent onto their favorite things, which is one of the best ways to do.

Because of this, cats love it when you stroke them on their cheek just behind the whiskers. They also love scratches at the base of the chin and behind the ears. Plus, some cats enjoy being scratched at the bottom of the tail.

It’s essential to think about how cats like you to stroke them too. If you watch cats groom each other, you will see that they do it with a set of short and firm licks. However, people tend to pet cats with long strokes. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s essential to establish the comfort level of your Bengal.

Figure out where it does and does not like to be scratched and how long it enjoys your petting before it begins to feel overstimulated.

The worst time to try and touch your pet is when it’s in the middle of a hunt. Bearing in mind that during a wild chase, a cat is exposed to larger predators who may attack it, they will be hyper-vigilant and attack you if you touch them when their focus is elsewhere.

Why Do Bengal Cats Hate Being Held?

One of the primary reasons why Bengals avoid being held is that they don’t like the feeling of restraint. However, there are many other reasons your Bengal may avoid letting you pick it up, as we’ll detail below.

It’s Scared

We’ve discussed that Bengals don’t like to be restrained in any way, and this is because it often causes them to feel scared or fearful. 

Bad Past Experience

What happened the last time you picked up your furry friend? What about the time before? If you only pick up your cat for a bath or a vet visit, they may come to associate being held with negative experiences.

Not Properly Sociliazed As A Kitten

If you didn’t adopt your Bengal as a young kitten, then there are no guarantees that it was adequately socialized when young. For cats to feel comfortable around humans, they need plenty of interactions with them in the first three months of their life.

If they don’t receive this interaction at an early age, they will likely remain wary of humans for the rest of their lives. Though it’s not impossible to bond with an unsocialized cat, it will take longer to build up their trust with you.

How Can I Increase The Tolerance Of My Bengal Cat Being Held?

While your Bengal cat may not enjoy being held out of personal preference, there are a few things you can do to improve the experience for both of you.

Try associating being held with positive experiences such as cuddles or receiving a treat. Providing an incentive is always a good way to encourage a change in cat behavior. Instead of your Bengal building negative associations with being held, help them make more positive memories.

An essential factor is to allow your cat to continue moving freely. Do not restrain the movement of their limbs when you hold them, and allow them to get down of their free will whenever they’ve had enough.

When you pick up your cat, make sure that you do it correctly. Take your time and allow the Bengal to see precisely what you are doing; place one hand underneath its front legs while using the other to support the hind and back legs. Then, gently pick them up, allowing them to feel supported in your arms.

As you approach your cat, do so from either its left or right side, as a front-on approach may feel like a confrontation to them.

In addition, only pick up your Bengal now and then to begin with, steadily increasing the frequency as they get used to the feeling of being held by you.

How Can I Tell If My Bengal Enjoys Being Picked Up?

Cats are reasonably expressive creatures, and there are some signs that you can look out for to confirm whether or not your cat enjoys being held by you.

If you attempt to pick up your Bengal, and they swat at you or try to run away, they’re sending out a pretty clear signal that they don’t want you to pick them up. So if there are children in your home, it’s vital to teach them these warning signals to avoid scratches or bites.

If My Bengal Does Not Like Cuddles, How Else Will It Show Me Affection?

Some Bengals simply do not like the feeling of being held, and no matter what you do, you will not change their minds. This does not mean that your cat won’t show you love and affection, though.

After a long day at work, your Bengal may come to the door and welcome you home. Your Bengal may follow you around the house, enquiring curiously about everything you do. They may also rub their head against your legs, lick you, and gently bump their heads into you.

These are all signs that your cat thinks very fondly of you and is telling you how much they love you. 

Additional signs of your cat’s affection include:

  • Engaging in interactive games with you.
  • Jumping up and kneading you.
  • Purring when they’re in your company.

Even if you don’t hold your cat, you can still share a powerful bond of love and trust.

Final Thoughts

Some Bengal cats may hate being held – others might love it. It all comes down to the individual personality of your feline. The most important thing is to let your Bengal dictate the frequency and length of your physical interactions.

This way, the pair of you can build a bond of trust, and even if your cat is hesitant at first, they can build up a tolerance to your petting over time.

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