Why do cats like so much to be scratched behind the ears?

March 30, 2009

Excerpt from Do Penguins Have Knees? by David Feldman

Most cats like to be scratched for the same reason that most humans like to be massaged: It feels good. According to the veterinarian John E. Saidla, assistant director of the Cornell Feline Health Center,

Most cats like to have their total bodies rubbed or stroked by humans. A cat’s skin is chock full of nerve endings, making your stroking a sensual experience.

But our skin is full of nerve endings, and not too many of us start wiggling our legs with delight when we’re scratched behind the ears. But then again, unlike cats, we don’t tend to have ear mites. Dr. Saidla explains:

Most cats harbor very few mites, while others have huge infections that are causing serious clinical problems. The mite in the ear canal burrows in to the layers of skin lining the ear canal. The cat is allergic, or at least, reacts to the feces and enzymes the mite produces, resulting in pruritus or itching. When the owner rubs the skin behind the ear, it feels good and the cat responds appreciatively.

(submitted by Robert J. Abrams of Boston, Massachusetts)

My own thoughts…

Kind of gross.. and a bit disgusting. Glad I don’t have ear mites leaving feces in my ear canal. I do still love a great head rub though.. ahhhhhhh relaxes me almost instantly. Until I think about my new found information about cats ears.

Happy Scratching!

3 Responses to Why do cats like so much to be scratched behind the ears?

  1. Cornelius on August 24, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.

  2. Floost on September 29, 2009 at 12:27 am

    I read a few topics. I respect your work and added blog to favorites.

  3. Derrick on March 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

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