I had a cat that didn’t like being pet. She tolerated it but sometimes would walk away or turn around and smack me with her paws. She preferred to be picked up and carried around. If I just picked her up and stood there or sat down she would jump out of my arms and stare at me. I had to walk. She liked to travel through the apartment. Petting, scratching under the chin, hugging, and cuddling were not options with her. It was not bad, just different.
Recently, a study from the Journal of Physiology and Behavior has found that cats who are reluctant to petting might actually experience stress when owners touch them. Part of the study focused on whether or not cats’ reactions to petting had anything to do with them living with other cats, and it seems it does. Cats who have not spent time with other cats when they were younger were more likely to not welcome petting as a sign of affection than those who did live with other cats or still live with another cat(s).
Does this mean that cats can live in colonies? Possibly. Does it also give some insight about keeping litter mates together till they are older? Possibly.
When I worked at an animal shelter, the custom was to keep kittens with their mothers and siblings till they were 7 to 9 weeks old. It helped them socialize with each other, made sure they were weaned properly, and learned tips and tricks from their mom. It also reduced their stress of living in a shelter since they had siblings to play with and snuggle with when napping. So, maybe cats who have been solitary from an early age and not well-socialized with people will prefer to live with us, like the comforts of a warm bed, water, and food but not care too much for physical touch. They may just like the company.
One of the best things to do when living with cats is observe their likes and dislikes, see what they prefer and give them their space. One cat I had loved to look out the window, another loved to drink water straight from the tap, and my cats now don’t care for red meat but love turkey. Treat them like the individuals they are and they will be less stressed and you will be too.
Whatever you do – don’t do this
Image from LoveMeow.com