When asked why my cat shows me his belly, I often hear a lot of things… Which are unfortunately not always true. So what does it mean when the cat exposes his belly? Is it an invitation to be stroked, to play? Is it a sign of submission? I’ll explain it all to you!
A cat that shows its belly does not invite to be stroked.
The first idea that comes to mind when we observe this behavior is that the cat wants to be petted… Even if some let themselves be petted (by habit, good temperament, or because they generally like to be cuddled on the stomach) others on the contrary will resist. And for good reason, it was not the message transmitted!
The cat shows its belly to mark its territory
In fact, when the cat stretches all the way, exposing its soft can, it is mostly because it stretches and marks its environment!
I was telling you about marking in another article that I invite you to read here. I was telling you about the SCP (space occupancy position), among other things. A cat with this type of marking (and I have two out of three specimens at home) will lie down or sit on anything that comes into the house again.
You receive a package, no time to open it as your cat is already sitting on it. When you put a scarf on the table, you hardly have time to turn around when your cat is already lying on it. If you have two cats, maybe you have noticed that one of them often likes to dislodge his little buddy… All this is marking. AND when the cat is lying across a room, it is also a marking mode. Why is that? Because it takes up space, it occupies the space.
In the same article What is marking, I explained one thing to you about scratching. Notably that it often happens that the cat scratches when you wake up in the morning or come home from work in the evening. A bit like a cuckoo clock, the cat asserts its presence. Almost in joy to see life take its course with your arrival!
Well, that’s what it’s all about, too, as you lie down in the middle of the hallway or living room when you come home from work. A kind of cuckoo clock and marking.
As long as you have brought smells from outside and walked around the room with your shoes on, then your cat, with this kind of marking, will lie down happily where it smells. To integrate them into his environment and put his own over them.
But what if my cat likes to cuddle on his belly?
For all that, as I said earlier, there are cats who let themselves be cuddled when they are being stroked at that moment. Simply because some cats like to be cuddled on their belly, and they will appreciate scoring while being entitled to a little hug.
But there are also cats who just have a good temperament, and who will tolerate this touch. Which does not mean they appreciate it…
How do I know if my cat likes to be petted when he shows me his belly?
If your cat usually comes on your lap or next to you when you are sitting on the couch, spreads out showing you her belly, and purrs with pleasure when you cuddle her, it means that your cat loves to be cuddled on her belly.
But if he never has this behavior with you in general, then it means that when he stretches all the way down in the middle of the living room, he doesn’t want to be petted!
Does a cat showing its belly want to play?
This is another interpretation of this behavior. Again, the cat may very well like to play as a result of this behavior. Because as we have seen, you are back home, life goes on, your cat scores, and it is time to play. The cat, who has a very strong associative memory, will very quickly associate the two things.
BUT (!) it’s not like that for all cats! You should never generalize. Because here’s what can happen too: your cat has stretched all the way, and because you’ve heard that this means he wants to play, you get close and start playing with him.
On this, he grabs your hand or arm and lacerates you with his claws or bites you. It’s a bit confusing! Yes, because when a cat shows its belly, it’s not an invitation to play…
And if you used to play with your cat in a fight, with the hand or the foot, then he will be able to make a quick association between these two moments again. Needless to say, this can be very problematic and painful…
How do I know if my cat wants to play?
Whether it’s for cuddling or play, don’t worry, your cat will let you know what she wants. It will simply come to you. A cat that wants to cuddle knows how to ask for it. He won’t go through the motions. It won’t paw at a distance hoping you’ll get the message. No, he will come to you directly to ask for his cuddles! It’s the same for playing. 😉
The cat shows its belly as a sign of trust or submission. (FALSE)
Finally, here is another interpretation of this behavior, which I hear quite frequently. The cat would show his belly as a kind of sign of allegiance like I have total confidence in you, I surrender myself O goddess, O god! Or it would be to show its full submission to us or to a fellow-creature. But it is not at all so.
Not only does the cat not have anything to prove to anyone, but moreover it does not govern its life under a hierarchical system. In other words, the cat is neither dominant nor submissive. For more information on this subject, I invite you to read my dedicated article right here.
The cat that shows his belly doesn’t expect anything at all!
What you have to keep in mind is that many cats just want to be quiet when they stretch or sleep with their tummy up. Many cats do not want to be touched during this time.
As I said before, your cat will really know how to make himself understood by coming directly to you. He won’t be mumbling around hoping you’ll get his message. Your cat will come asking you without any detour, and not distance.