Have you noticed a pattern; your cat is keen to follow you around everywhere, yet is not open to a cuddle (or two)? It’s a little disappointing, right? Well, why do cats do this? Is it normal, and is there anything you can do to stop them from following you around as much or be more receptive to more cuddles? Well, this is all you are going to want to know and potentially implement…
So, why does my cat follow me everywhere but won’t cuddle’? Cats may follow their owners everywhere yet be hesitant to cuddle when they aren’t affectionate by nature. Other cats don’t like physical contact as a means of showing their affection, or they’ve had a bad experience in the past.
Thankfully, all is not lost – as we now discover as we continue to explore.
Why Does My Cat Follow Me But Won’t Cuddle?
There are several reasons your cat may be following you but not want to cuddle. It could be your cat just doesn’t like cuddles, or she’s more curious by nature. Other cats don’t like any form of physical contact, sometimes because they’ve had bad experiences in the past.
Your Cat Doesn’t Like Cuddles
As we know, each cat has their own distinct personality.
Some cats just don’t like physical cuddles, which can be hard for their people to appreciate, as cats are so cute and soft!
Domestic cats have evolved from wild cats who live solitary lives, making cats naturally independent animals.
Some feral, free-ranging cats today live either alone or in groups, and the jury is still out on how social they are as a whole.
Your Cat Is Curious
It could be your cat is more curious by nature, so they like being around you and seeing where you go and what you get up to, but they might not want cuddles.
They might not like the idea of being alone in your home; hence they’ll follow you around.
And if they’re a very curious cat, they’ll possibly be more interested in smelling new scents and touching new things than having cuddles.
Your Female Cat Is Pregnant
Pregnant female cats can start following their people around everywhere because of hormonal changes in their bodies ramping up their maternal instincts, which manifest as a desire for affection.
A pregnant female may not want to cuddle, though, as she’s usually feeling more vulnerable.
You might check if your (unspayed) female cat is pregnant if she’s demonstrating any of the following:
- Nipples turning pink
- Greater appetite
- Change in her heat cycle
- Sleeping more
Note: If you have recently had your female cat spayed, these maternal instincts from hormones may linger for a while.
Your Cat Wants Something From You
It could be your cat follows you around because they’re trying to tell you something, such as, ‘More food, please!’ or ‘I need to go outside!’
Our cats need us for everything from food to scooping out a litter tray, opening a door, or replenishing their water supply.
If your cat is following you and meowing, your cat is definitely trying to tell you something: meowing is a method of communication that cats reserve for human beings.
It’s possible that once you’ve attended to what they are asking for, they may be more receptive to a cuddle.
Your Cat Doesn’t Like Physical Contact
There are cats who feel unsafe or vulnerable if people try petting or even just touching them – even their beloved human families.
Some cats won’t want cuddles because they are sensitive, finding cuddles overstimulating.
Overstimulation is why some cats will allow cuddles up to a point before reacting aggressively as if to say, ‘No more, I can’t take it!’
Different cats have varying limits of the amount of touch they can tolerate – so repeated stroking, even in a favorite spot, can become overwhelming and even painful for your cat.
For touch-wary cats, the quieter your home is, and the more relaxed you are around your cat, the safer they will probably feel.
Some cats do change over time when they become more used to their environments, but this isn’t always the case.
There’s no guarantee your cat will go from a ‘hands off’ kitty to a ‘cuddle me’ kitty.
Your Cat Has Had Bad Experiences In The Past
If you have adopted a rescue cat, it could be they don’t like cuddles because they had a bad past experience while being petted in their previous home.
Your cat might have been handled too roughly by overenthusiastic young children or even mistreated by an irresponsible adult.
Cats have lots of DNA in common with their wild cousins, and they are easily frightened once they’ve had a dangerous encounter with anyone, human or beast.
If your cat has had unfortunate past experiences, you’ll have to work hard (and very slowly) to earn your cat’s trust.
If they are already following you around, that’s a positive sign – they might eventually accept physical touch.
There are, however, no guarantees when it comes to cats and their ability to recover from past stressful situations. We can only do the best we can to help them.
Is It Normal For A Cat To Follow Their Owners But Not Cuddle?
For some cats, it’s normal to follow their owners but not cuddle, particularly if they are skittish by nature or they don’t like the types of cuddles you’re offering. Just because your cat won’t let you cuddle her doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you – she just wants interaction on her terms.
Your Cat Is Skittish By Nature
If your cat is naturally skittish – either because of past experience or because they simply do not like cuddles – it’s normal for them to not want to cuddle, even if they follow you around.
It’s normal for cats to value their personal space, and for some cats, their space might stretch to a fairly wide area.
If your cat is following you around but not cuddling you, you may find they approach you a bit more when you are seated, reclining, or lying down.
Apprehensive cats can sometimes tolerate closer physical proximity with their people when they are asleep or lying down, as humans in this position are less threatening for cats.
Note: This is why when you come across a cat that doesn’t know you, it’s always best to crouch down to their level so that you appear smaller and less scary.
Your Cat Wants Different Kinds Of Cuddles
Some cats are fine with physical affection as long as it’s given on their terms and in ways they prefer.
It could be your cat likes something different from what you’re offering.
Here are some types of cuddles that many cats don’t like:
- Tight hugs. Humans may appreciate a strong hug, but not cats. For felines, it means nothing if you hug them tightly – apart from you trying to trap them. In your cat’s mind, you may even be trying to hurt her, so she won’t like it.
- Kisses. Some cats look like they’re kissing when they touch noses, but in fact, they’re just smelling each other. It’s as if they’re asking, ‘What have you just eaten – is that tuna?’ Your cat may bring her nose close to your mouth to check the smell of your breath – but don’t do this to your cat uninvited. Many cats find the close proximity of a human face threatening and scary.
- Belly rubs. Most cats – even those who like to be cuddled – don’t like having their bellies rubbed or scratched. There’s always the exception, but if your cat hesitates to be cuddled, she probably won’t want a belly rub. Most dogs roll over to request belly rubs, but not cats – a cat who shows her stomach is displaying her trust in you, not an invitation to stroke her there.
- Petting their fur in the wrong direction. When trying to pet a cat, always stroke her in the direction of her fur to avoid discomfort for her.
- Being picked up (and held like a baby). Some cats don’t like being picked up, especially if they weren’t handled as kittens. Other cats will tolerate being held like a baby, but it isn’t a natural position that cats find reassuring.
Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
Contrary to what you might think, a cat with separation anxiety can be following you everywhere in her desire to have you close by, yet not want cuddles.
Your cat may be stressed to the point where they are highly anxious and need you close by.
Separation anxiety can come with other signs in addition to your cat following you, such as:
- Vocalizing more than usual
- Excessive licking
What To Do About Your Cat Following You But Not Wanting To Cuddle
If your cat is following you but not cuddling you, and you want to be able to stroke them, you might not want to get her to stop following you, as this is a sign of affection. If your cat has separation anxiety, you’ll need to address the cause of that anxiety to ease your cat’s suffering.
How To Get Your Cat To Stop Following You
If you do want your cat to stop following you, this won’t mean they’ll be more open to cuddles – most likely the opposite.
Note: If your cat is meowing while they are following you, don’t ignore them or try to get them to stop – they want something. Thery could even be ill – so check that their needs are being met (see above).
Find The Cause
It’s essential to find the cause of your cat following you:
- Separation anxiety. If it’s separation anxiety, you’ll need to address that, as your cat is unhappy and stressed.
- Being unwell. Some cats will follow their owners when they are ill and need attention. If your cat is showing any other signs of illness, take her to the vet for a checkup.
- Boredom. Cats who don’t have enough stimulation – particularly indoor cats – will sometimes follow their owners in search of playtime (even if they don’t want cuddles). Make sure your cat is getting the physical and mental stimulation she needs.
Return Your Cat’s Affection
If it’s none of the above reasons, your cat is most likely showing you affection by following you.
Rather than trying to get them to stop, return their gesture of affection in a way that they will appreciate.
Try ways of interacting with your cat that are less threatening for them if they won’t accept cuddles (see below).
How To Get Your Cat More Open To Cuddling
Here are some types of non-invasive cuddling that you can try with your cat.
Watch your cat’s body language to see how they react to determine what kind of non-invasive affection they most appreciate:
- Gentle stroking. Even if your cat won’t cuddle, many cats appreciate gentle strokes or scratches along the scent glands in their cheeks, under the chin, along her back, or by the base of her tail.
- Treats. You can try hand-feeding her treats, if she’ll accept them.
- Playing together. Try a feather wand, a small ball, or a mouse toy for your cat.
- Inviting her onto your bed or sofa. Because cats find us less threatening when we’re sitting or lying down, you can try tempting your cat onto the bed or sofa with you. Pheromone sprays can help here to further calm your cat.
Note: Laser toys are popular with many cats, but they are best used for very short periods and followed up with other toys. Cats become frustrated when they can’t catch their ‘prey’, and this can become a source of stress for some kitties.
Never, ever force your cat to cuddle if she doesn’t want to! Whatever reason your cat has for not wanting to cuddle, it’s a valid one for them. By forcing cuddles, you would be frightening your cat, making the problem worse.
If Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
If your cat has separation anxiety, you won’t want to stop them from following you, as that will only make them more stressed. It’s crucial to remove stressors where possible.
Before trying to get your cat to cuddle you, think about why they might be stressed and mitigate that as much as you can.
They could be bored, frightened of another pet in the house, unsure because of a new addition to the family or a house move, or something else.
Other Signs Of Feline Affection
If your cat refuses to cuddle, don’t despair and think they don’t love you.
Following you is one of the ways your cat says they love you!
There are other ways cats have of displaying their love for us, like:
- Headbutting you. Also called bunting, headbutting is used by cats to communicate their love for one another. Your kitty headbutting you means she sees you as her friend.
- Sleeping with her belly exposed. Cats are extra-vulnerable in this position, so your cat is showing she loves and trusts you. Remember not to try and stroke her belly, though!
- Bringing you gifts. If your cat brings you a dead mouse, don’t chew her out – she’s trying to bring you a gift.
- Purring. Cats make a low purring sound when they’re happy, just like dogs wag their tails. Your cat is telling you she enjoys being around you.
- Chirping. Cats make a trilling, chirping sound (also called gurgling) when they are excited or loving life. If your cat makes this sound in your presence, it’s definitely a compliment!
- Kneading bread. When your cat kneads her paws rhythmically as if she’s making bread (or making biscuits), it’s a sign of love and contentment.
- Slow blinks. Slow blinking (also called a ‘kitty kiss’) from your cat is her way of saying, ‘I love you’ so show your love in return by slowly blinking back.
It certainly seems strange.
Your cat wants to be in your company but is then not open or receptive to cuddling.
While there can be several different underlying causes of this and different means of addressing the problem, be mindful of your cat and how they could be feeling along the way.
Don’t force anything, and be patient in your approach.
Other related cat guides you may want to see:
- Why Is My Cat Clingy When I’m On My Period?
- My Cat Won’t Leave Me Alone All Of A Sudden
- My Cat Guards Me When I Poop [Why & What To Do]
- My Cat Guards Me When I Pee [Why & What To Do]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.