While my house is feline-free, I've got plenty of friends with kitty housemates. Most of the time, they're pretty receptive to my overtures, but here's an easy tip I've learned the sharp way.
When reaching out to pet a cat, approach with fingers tucked under and fist together. Open hands with spread fingers can look a bit too much like unsheathed claws to some cats, and they could perceive your gentle petting desires to be a sign of aggression and lash out. Ouch. Move slowly — so you're not a moving target — and show the cat your hand first to sniff your scent before reaching in for a rub.
If you've had this problem, or other issues with animals, big and small, share your questions and concerns with our Pet Peeves group — I'm only here to help!
Source: Flickr User FriaLOve