When a cat throws itself on its side and shows its belly, most people misinterpret this behaviour and think that it wants its belly rubbed but will get grabbed by their hand and the cat will bite them. What the cat is actually doing is showing a greeting behaviour and showing trust.
It is actually an abuse of that trust to stroke its belly.
What the cat would rather you do is to give it a slight head rub.
A recent study showed that a third of owners also failed to recognise a slow-blinking cat as meaning they were content and 65 per cent thought a purring cat means it is always happy, but it can also be a sign of pain. Half of owners were unaware that cats show stress by licking their lips and a quarter thought cats shed hair intentionally to mark their territory.
Other signals to look out for are:
• The greeting – when the cat walks towards you with its tail up, it means it is saying hello
• The sign of trust – when the cat rolls on its back exposing its stomach it is showing it trusts you rather than wanting its belly rubbed.
• The leg rub – when the cats rubs its head and body against your legs it is saying you smell strange and is trying to mark you with its scent
• Flattened ears – when the cat flattens its ears it is frightened and needs somewhere to hide
• Licking of lips – while after eating this can just be it is cleaning itself, at other times it can be a sign of nausea or stress
• The slow blink – the cat will slowly close and open its eyes, turning its head to one side, meaning it is relaxed and is not feeling threatened.
Source: telegraph.co.uk /CatsProtection