The first off-limits zone: The belly. Why do dogs love it and cats hate it? Because dogs, more often than not, see themselves as a predator. So they feel more secure. Cats are more cautious – they see themselves as prey. Sure, they may pounce on a bird – but they know they could also be eaten by a coyote. So they don't want to be in a vulnerable position...basically, on their back, exposing their organs to potential threats. That prey mentality also means cats don't like to be snuck up on. Don’t try to pet your cat from behind. Let her approach you.
The places cats enjoy being petted are those where their scent glands are concentrated. When your cat rubs on you, or the corner of your couch, it’s his chin and forehead that make contact……and that leaves his scent on the item or person. And spreading their scent makes cats happy and content, since it makes their environment smell familiar. When your cat bumps his head against you — it’s called “bunting” — and he’s marking you as his own. So pet your cat where her scent glands are: The base of the chin, especially where the jawbone connects to the skull. Another sweet spot: Base of the ears. And finally: Your cat’s cheeks, behind the whiskers.