Are cats and dogs ticklish?


Research revealed that we humans are not the only animals prone to throw laughter if someone tickles us in the right spots. As a matter of fact, playful tickling behaviors have been observed between primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees. 

But, the real question is:

Are cats and dogs ticklish?

Two Kinds of Ticklishness

First off, let’s take a look at the 2 kinds of ticklishness. 

  1. Gargalesis

This is the type where you laugh out loud and occurs only in humans and other primates. A theory of why it happens is because it is a way to socially bond with a burst of light-hearted laughter. Other experts believe that it a way for youngsters to develop a self-defending capability since engaging in tickling sessions hone their reflexes that can defend their neck, ribs, and other vulnerable areas. 

  1. Knismesis

Now, this another form of ticklishness does not evoke any kind of humorous response, but more of an annoyance. This is the most common ticklishness you’ll find in cats like Bengals.  For instance, a feline flicking its ear to get rid of a bug. 


Are pets ticklish?

Well, it depends on how you define a tickle. If it is defined as uncontrollable laughter in response to touch, then dogs and cats are not ticklish. But, if it is an involuntary or reflexive movement in response to touch, then yes, cats and dogs are definitely ticklish. 

Has your Fido ever started involuntarily shaking either back leg when being scratched or pet? Do your feline purrs, kneading your skin with their front paws and gently moving their tail back and forth? These simple reactions are what most pet parents perceive as ticklish. 

The Best Places To “Tickle” Your Pet

Like people, cats and dogs like to be petted or “tickled” in different areas of the body. These include:

  • Ears: The base of their ears is the popular petting spot for both cats and dogs. A possible reason for this is because it is where a lot of their scent glands are located.  Your cat and dog can release their scent onto you, which makes them feel more comfortable. 
  • Chin: Cats, especially Bengal kittens, love a gentle stroke underneath the chin. Dogs, on the other hand, might or might not like it at all.
  • Back: Both cats and dogs tend to like being petted on their back. However, some of them may not like it when your stroke on their tails. 
  • Belly: Dogs absolutely love lying on their back so you can give them belly rubs. Not cats, though. Most cats are only being playful when showing their bellies and this could act as a defense mechanism, resulting in claw marks when you try to pet them in the belly.