1 Very Good Reason Not To Rub Cats Belly!


Playful cat scratches hurt.

I pet sit for cats of all sizes, types and temperaments and while some are showing deep affection and trust it isn’t very much fun when I am tricked into thinking they want a belly rub when in fact it’s an invitation to play.

Cats can carry a disease called  Bartonella henselae.  Batonella is very common in cats, it is estimated that 40% of all domestic cats have been infected at some point in their lives and many cats can be asymptomatic carriers for long periods. If you are scratched by a cat carrying this bacteria you can contract “cat scratch fever”.

So what does a Hillsboro Pet Sitter do when a cat rolls on her back?

Put on a pair of gloves.  Observation of the kitty and understanding body language is key. Is she relaxed? Is she feeling playful?  When I kneel down to be closer to her she might quickly get up and leave or roll onto her paws. This is an automatic “No, don’t pet me now”. If she is still on her belly, slowly I reach in towards the cat and watch what she does.  Are her ears pinning back, does a paw look like it is ready to swat her prey (Me)?  I’ve been known to be tricked more than once, it’s a chance I take as a pet sitter but I am cautious and this is why I have gloves on.  If this cat immediately follows through with a playful swat then I have her number.

Is it an invitation to scratch that itch?

If she is relaxed and allows me the honors to rub her belly then we are friends and the trust bridge has been built and the gloves come off. If I do get scratched, I wash my hands with warm soapy water and apply antibacterial ointment to any scratches as soon as possible.

I find that the not so trusting kitty can be lured into my affections if I ignore her.  Eventually, she will come to me, rub her scent on my arms, legs and lure me into their favors.  It’s a game of cat and mouse and I’m the mouse….for awhile.

Cats will roll on their back because they trust you and want their belly rubs.  Maybe they have an itch that they would love for you to scratch and I’m just the person to deliver as long as they don’t deliver a fully engaged right hook.

My Pet Sitters Toolbox has many useful items to keep me and your pet safe.

You can read more about Bartonella, signs, symptoms for your cat and if a human has been infected here.

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