Why Do Cats Hate Belly Rubs So Much?

A bengal cat laying on its back with a mans hand on its tummy

The belly button is considered a very sensitive and vulnerable area in cats. This is because many vital organs lie just millimetres beneath the skin of your cat’s tummy, and any of them could be fatal if damaged. As a result, cats are more prone to protect their bellies from injury.

Cats do not like having belly rubs because their stomachs are very sensitive. A cats soft underbelly is where some of the cats most vital organs are located. So a cats instinct is to protect its most vulnerable area. Furthermore, the hair follicles on a cat’s stomach and tail are hypersensitive to touch. 

Although you aren’t a predator looking to help your cat meet a grisly end, instinct tells cats that they should never abandon themselves that vulnerable. That’s why you hardly ever see cats lying on their backs, even when she’s fast asleep, unless they completely trust you.

Suppose a cat shows you its belly and appears to want affection, scratch under the cat’s chin or around the cheeks. If you’re not sure if the cat wants a belly rub, slowly reach your hand toward the tummy and gauge the cat’s reaction. If the cat reacts angrily and tries to grab or claw your hand, don’t try it again. If they don’t respond, you’re probably good to go.

Why Do Cats Show Their Bellies?

There are five main reasons why a cat might show you their belly. 

 Here are a few reasons why your cat might show you their stomach:

  • Defence Mode
  • Females In Fertility
  • Love and Trust
  • Playfulness
  • Relaxed

Cats Will Show Their Bellies If They Are In Defence Mode

Cats, unlike dogs, occasionally roll onto their backs to defend themselves, allowing them to attack whoever or whatever threatens them with both teeth and claws from all four paws. Cats in defence mode will also display other signs of aggression, such as holding their ears back against their heads, hissing, and even growling.

Females Cats In Fertility Might Show You Their Bellies To Initiate Mating

If your cat is a female who has not been spayed, rolling over could be an innate mating action. Unspayed females who are ready to mate may often proceed from “affection” or frustration, exposing their tummies while rubbing their backs against the floor, carpet, or any other horizontal surface.

Cats Will Show Their Bellies As A Sign Of Love and Trust

Cats will sometimes lie down and roll over on their backs to show trust and love, with their ears held up and forward. In the wild, animals instinctively safeguard the undersides of their bodies because vulnerable vital organs are located there. So when any animal, including your cat, reveals this area to you, it can be a way of showing you that they trust you unconditionally.

Cats Show Their Bellies When They Are In A Playful Mood

When cats roll onto their backs, they may be trying to persuade you or another cat to play with them. This is especially common among kittens and young cats, who will “play-fight” with their littermates or roommates in this manner.

Cats Will Show Their Bellies When They Are Relaxed and Satisfied

Some cats also sleep on their backs, with their bellies exposed, like tiny humans, indicating how relaxed and content they are in their territory and with the people in their region. If the cat does this, it demonstrates how comfortable she is in his territory and with the people in his region.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Lets You Rub Its Belly?

If your cat is entirely relaxed and trusts you, they might allow you to give them belly rubs. But be aware that sometimes your cat will expose its belly for a rub, but it is a ploy to capture and attack your hand! For example, people typically assume that cats roll over because they want a tummy rub, so when they see cats roll over, they think the same thing—only to get scratched and possibly bitten as a result.

Why Does My Cat Cry When I Touch Her Stomach?

You might not observe your cat’s restlessness, but her retching will. Cats get tummy aches and related stomach issues for various reasons, some obvious, some enigmatic. Look for other symptoms and try to figure out what’s wrong. Even seemingly innocuous stomach issues can indicate severe medical conditions.

If your cat appears to be in a lot of pain, try massaging her stomach; if it hurts, she’ll reel, cry, grunt, meow, or even purr; she requires medical assistance right away.

You should determine how severe your cat’s health is if she starts stumbling, vomiting, and has stomach pain, diarrhoea, or gas. If you want to be technical, vomiting comes from the stomach and requires effort, but regurgitation comes from the oesophagus and is effortless. Both can indicate different medical conditions.

Watch for further signs and call a veterinarian or a vet hotline if your cat becomes sicker, keeps retching, or appears restless or especially listless.

What Causes Abdominal Pain In Cats?

Abdominal pain can be caused by various things, from trauma to disease, so if your cat is in pain, you should take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible for an evaluation.

A variety of factors could cause your cat’s stomach ache. Cats aren’t known for being expressive when it comes to discomfort, but there are ways to tell if something is wrong with their stomachs. Because the abdomen is situated between the pelvis and the chest, various organs may blame for their discomfort.

Because the belly resides between the pelvis and the chest, various organs can be the source of your cat’s suffering. 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Cat Having A Painful Abdomen

Your cat may not always display signs of stomach discomfort, and pain may be directed to another part of the body that isn’t the actual source. 

It’s critical to pay close attention to your cat to determine if it is experiencing stomach discomfort. The significant symptoms to look out for a cat with a painful abdomen are given below:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Appetite loss
  • Faeces with blood
  • Urination problems
  • A transform in the way you look or how you stand (e.g., hunched over)
  • Sensitivity/pain when touched.
  • Loss of weight
  • Breathing that is rapid or irregular.

Causes of Painful Abdomen in Cats

Abdominal pain in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) (inflammation in the pancreas)
  • Triaditis / Cholangiohepatitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Carcinoma
  • Toxic poisoning
  • Bladder rupture
  • Obstruction of the urinary tract
  • Food intolerance
  • Stones in the kidneys
  • Causes ascites (buildup of fluid within the abdominal cavity)
  • Infection with bacteria (e.g., pyometra, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis)
  • Insect parasites
  • Obstruction of the intestine
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Infectious peritonitis in cats (FIP, a fatal viral infection)

Diagnosis of Painful Abdomen in Cats

The veterinarian will need a comprehensive medical history and a comprehensive physical examination to diagnose your cat’s condition, leading to additional diagnostic testing. However, the information you give the vet might go a long way toward narrowing down the causes. 

Knowing if your cat has reacted to a specific type of food, has been exposed to toxic substances or conditions, and has displayed all other symptoms can help with this procedure.

If the vet determines that more tests are necessary, they will perform a few typical ones. A complete blood count (CBC), urine, and biochemical profile are all standard diagnostic tests. The three tests are used to look for symptoms of inflammation or infection and see how well the organs are working. If parasites are suspected, the vet may perform a faecal examination as well.

An X-ray or ultrasound of the abdomen is frequently performed. These scans can detect inflammation, malignancies, kidney stones, and organ ruptures.

If the fluid is identified in your cat’s belly, your veterinarian may perform a biopsy or a peritoneal fluid study, determining the type of fluid present.

Treatment for Cats with a Painful Abdomen

Treatment options for abdominal pain may differ due to a variety of reasons.

Surgical Procedures

If cancer or tumours are discovered, the veterinarian will almost probably advise surgery to remove them. In the instance of a ruptured bladder or intestinal obstruction, a surgical procedure is also pursued.

Prescription Drugs

If your pet has a parasite infestation or a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will prescribe antiparasitic or antibiotic medication. Although there are dangers associated with specific treatments (e.g., side effects, resistance), the benefits usually outweigh the risks. However, they must be provided strictly as directed for your cat to gain the full benefits.

As a form of supportive care, some drugs may be prescribed. For example, if your cat is in excruciating discomfort, your veterinarian may suggest that pain medication be administered. In addition, a vet may give Anti-nausea medicines to help your cat stop vomiting, and anti-seizure medication may be given if your cat has seizures (usually related to poisoning). Drugs that inhibit the immune system may also be recommended, which is common in the case of IBD.

Treatment for Poison

If poisoning is the source of your cat’s distress, your veterinarian will begin treatment as soon as possible after learning which toxin was consumed. If your cat just swallowed the poison, its stomach will be emptied, and activated charcoal or fluid treatment may be used to help alleviate any symptoms.

Depending on the toxin, further treatment options may be available. In the case of rat poisoning, the veterinarian may provide vitamin K.

Diet Plan

A change in diet may be recommended as part of the treatment plan for IBD or other dietary issues. Your veterinarian may recommend a hypoallergenic diet or even an exclusion diet. Both can help with IBD and detecting whether or not your cat is allergic.

Supportive Care

Supportive care may include the provision of fluids to relieve dehydration in addition to pain and anti-nausea medicine. In addition, if your cat has the misfortune of contracting FIP, supportive care may be the primary treatment option, given the virus’s high fatality rate.

Recovery of Cat’s Painful Abdomen

It’s critical to stick to your veterinarian’s treatment plan, mainly if medications have been prescribed. The prognosis depends on the aetiology of stomach pain. Other illnesses can cause relapse, and some can be chronic. IBD, for example, is not curable and must be managed rather than treated. Keep an eye on your cat’s appetite and any other signs of illness. If they reappear, make an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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