Isn’t this an interesting question? But if you’ve had a lot of cats with a variety of backgrounds, you know it’s legitimate. Some cats will practically turn themselves inside out to feel the human touch and others seem to dislike being petted. They shrink away from your hand—avoid your overtures. Then there are those who will accept and even direct just the type of petting they prefer: a vigorous neck scratch, strokes alongside their cheeks, or a tickle at the base of their tail.
Why does the scrawny, wiry, cat crave petting and the gorgeous Persian seem to object to it or vice versa? Is this something their early life experiences create? I thought so, until our once homeless, standoffish tortie grew to adore being petted. She can’t get enough of it—she’s extremely needy of affection now that she’s accepted it.
Lily, on the other hand, born one of fifteen kittens to three feral mother cats, and easy to handle from day one, sometimes seems to cringe when I (her favorite person) pets her. She almost always enjoys neck and cheek scratches and sometimes she loves being petted. Other times, however, she slinks away from me when I run my hand over her. I can only guess that she just wasn’t handled enough as a kitten and this feels foreign to her—she was taught not to trust. Maybe someone (a child, perhaps) was frighteningly rough with her when she was tiny.
There’s also the possibility that a cat who doesn’t invite and accept petting is experiencing pain. Lily does have kidney disease—could full-body stroking cause her discomfort?
And then there are those adorable cat paws. Most cats don’t like to have their paws handled because they’re super sensitive, but some cats are so affectionate that they’ll even offer a paw to someone they trust.
Here’s an informative sites talking about why some cats reject certain types of petting approaches: https://pets.thenest.com/certain-cats-hate-being-petted-6641.html If you have a cat that doesn’t like to be picked up or is impossible to pick up, read this article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/cat-does-not-like-to-be-held/