The best way to handle this is to pet for shorter periods. If you know the cat can tolerate only two or three minutes of petting, stop after one minute. To break the behavior pattern, always leave the cat wanting more. If you don't know the cat's limit, watch for warning signals as you pet him. It's better just to give a quick pet and be content to let him merely sit on your lap. When you do pet him, stick to areas you know he enjoys. This positive experience will help him change his association with the situation. Over time you may be able to gradually increase the length of the petting session, but it's important to respect your cat's limits.
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Reprinted from Cat vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett © 2004. Permission granted by Penguin Putnam.