cat's paw in human hand

You may have hoped for a cat that purrs like a Porsche any time you offer a rubdown.

Instead, it's feasible you ended up with a scratch-happy feline that attacks when you make contact. Don't give up just yet — eliminate the triggers for unwanted behavior and work on your cat's tolerance levels for being petted. If you're patient and consistent, your cat can learn to play nice.

Some kinds of petting are easier for cats to tolerate than others. For a highly reactive cat, restrict your caresses to behind the ears, under the chin or the base of the tail.

A long stroke down the back is too much for some kitties, and you're really taking chances when you decide to tickle your cat's tummy. The cats who enjoy it are greatly outnumbered by the cats who'll quickly tire of a tummy rub and will seek to stop it with teeth and claws.