Scientists at the University of Lincoln have determined that there is a right and wrong way to pet your cat. They released their findings in a 2014 article for Applied Animal Behavior Science. Their findings include where ... and where not ... to pet your cat.
You can read the full article here to make sure you are in compliance. But let's face it ... if you have a cat, you're working harder at the pet/master thing than the cat is ... I say pet the cat however you want!