Is stroking good for pets?

Stroking is the equivalent of grooming and grooming is the way that cats, dogs, monkeys, and many other animals maintain their relationships and care for each other.

1st April 2014
Is stroking good for pets? (Getty)

Asked by: Michelle Rayner, Liverpool

Yes. Stroking is the equivalent of grooming and grooming is the way that cats, dogs, monkeys, and many other animals maintain their relationships and care for each other. They enjoy it, as well as being a means to keep clean.

But – and it’s a big ‘but’ – grooming has to be consensual. Animals approach each other cautiously, gaining permission to groom or asking to be groomed. We have to do the same. If you hate being touched in the wrong way by a stranger or by someone you dislike, then you can imagine how a dog or cat might feel if unexpectedly stroked. A recent study measured levels of stress hormones in cats and found that the most stressed were cats that didn’t like being stroked but still tolerated it. The results were widely misinterpreted as meaning you shouldn’t stroke your cat, but this was not what the study showed. Lots of cats love being stroked. The real lesson is that stroking is an intimate activity and pet owners need to treat it that way.

 


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