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Cats: ‘Golden ratio’ reveals the most beautiful breeds – with Norwegian Forest topping the list 

Letting your cat pick when it wants to be petted may improve your relationship — and also save you from getting bitten or scratched — a study has concluded.

Feline behaviour experts from the Nottingham Trent University have developed a set of set of interaction guidelines to aid pet owners — which they have dubbed ‘CAT’.

These advise to give their cats choice and control (C), pay attention (A) to their pet’s behaviour and body language and think about where they are touching (T) their kitty.

When these simple rules are followed, the team found, cats are less likely to behave aggressively towards humans and were also more affectionate.

Letting your cat pick when it wants to be petted may improve your relationship — and also save you from getting bitten or scratched — a study has concluded. Pictured: a can bunts a man

According to study leader Lauren Finka — a feline behaviour expert from Nottingham Trent University — the key to making sure your cat is happy and comfortable when you are together lies in ensuring that it is control of the interactions.

A good place to start, she explained, is by offering your hand to your cat and letting it decide if it wants to interact — if it is willing, it will most likely rub itself against you.

Owners should allow their cat to move away if they want to and resist the temptation to follow the feline or pick it up, as this takes away the cat’s sense of control, the researchers explained.

Cats are easily over-stimulated by petting. Signs a cat may want you to stop petting it can include it thrashing its tail, turning its head away, rotating or flattening its ears, shaking its head, licking its nose, trying to move away, or rippling the fur on it back.

Other behaviours may include if the cat goes still, stops purring, stops rubbing itself back against you, suddenly start to groom itself or rapidly turns its head to face you.

Cats are easily over-stimulated by petting. Signs a cat may want you to stop petting it can include it thrashing its tail, turning its head away, rotating or flattening its ears, shaking its head, licking its nose, trying to move away, or rippling the fur on it back. Continuing to pet a cat at this point may force it to resort to less subtle messages — like scratching (pictured)

Cats are easily over-stimulated by petting. Signs a cat may want you to stop petting it can include it thrashing its tail, turning its head away, rotating or flattening its ears, shaking its head, licking its nose, trying to move away, or rippling the fur on it back. Continuing to pet a cat at this point may force it to resort to less subtle messages — like scratching (pictured)

Continuing to pet a cat at this point may force it to resort to less subtle messages of its discomfort — including scratching, hissing or biting you.

As part of their study, Dr Finka and colleagues also looked at where cats most like to be stroked — with the base of their ears, around their cheeks and under the chin being prime petting positions.

According to the team, avoiding touching the tummy and the base of a cat’s tail — as well as being careful when stroking their backs — is often wise, especially with an unfamiliar feline, although there are some cats which will enjoy being petted here.

‘The results demonstrate a clear preference amongst cats for a more “hands off” approach to petting, which ultimately lets them call most of the shots,’ said Dr Finka.

‘Cats are not necessarily known for being overly expressive when it comes to communicating how they are feeling.’

‘This can often cause issues during petting because many cats may feel a little uncomfortable at times, but this isn’t something that is always easy for us to pick up on,’ she concluded.

'The results demonstrate a clear preference amongst cats for a more "hands off" approach to petting, which ultimately lets them call most of the shots,' said Dr Finka

‘The results demonstrate a clear preference amongst cats for a more “hands off” approach to petting, which ultimately lets them call most of the shots,’ said Dr Finka

‘While every cat has a wonderfully unique personality, they do often share fundamental similarities, as this new study shows,’ said Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s feline welfare manager, JoAnna Puzzo.

‘Cats can be incredibly subtle when expressing their likes and dislikes, and as a result their behaviour can be misunderstood or ignored completely.’

‘By using these new simple yet effective “Cat” guidelines, owners will be able to better understand how their cat is feeling and adapt how they interact together to ensure their pet is happy and relaxed.’

To help them refine the CAT guidelines, the team monitored brief interactions between human participants and 100 felines in Battersea’s London cattery.

Each participant interacted with six cats — three before receiving training on the CAT guidelines and then three after.

The researchers found that cats were much less likely to exhibit signs of discomfort or behave aggressively when people followed the guidelines.

The same cats were also more likely to show friendly behaviours towards the participants and appeared more comfortable during the interactions that occurred post-training, the team noted.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk