The wrong way to hold a cat.

Some cats are naturally cuddly and constantly look for and secure a warm lap on which to purr. Others, well, let’s just say they really don’t like being held. They may hide, howl, shriek, and lash out at any open arms, no matter how inviting and unthreatening. It can be daunting to face a fractious cat, but when you adopt our strategies, you’ll not only be able to properly hold a cat, but you can do it in ways that enhance the experience of closeness. 

Respecting Preferences

It is entirely possible that your cat will never warm to your good intentions, and that’s okay. Being able to recognize and accept their personal preferences is key to peaceful cohabitation. Please do not force them to endure being held if they clearly appear stressed, scared, or uncomfortable. In addition to causing them unnecessary duress, you may get scratched or bitten. Furthermore, they may bolt out of your arms and get hurt if they land wrong. 

Because your cat is bound to remember negative experiences, don’t insist on holding them when they struggle. There are other ways to develop the bond between you, such as play time, tasty, healthy treats, and environmental enrichment. 

Working Up To It

To earn the right to hold a cat, ease into in the following ways:

  • Pet them while holding their favorite treats. When they allow you to stroke their head, back, and sides, offer a treat. 
  • Over time, and only when they show no discomfort, start to increase the length of time that you touch them. Slowly, add more pressure so they can begin to associate the sensations with pleasure. Don’t forget to give them praise and extra treats. 
  • Once they show confidence with your physical attention, try to pick them with both hands. Try not to squeeze them; instead, gentle pressure, lots of soothing vocal tones, and praise should relax them. 
  • Keep your initial attempts short and sweet. Stay in the same place as moving around may startle them. Be very mindful of how you set them down. An easy landing can make all the difference. Be sure they have their footing before gently releasing them. 

Hold a Cat Successfully

To increase your chances at successful feline embraces, we offer these helpful tips:

  • Do not sneak up on your cat or grab them from behind. A direct head-on approach is always appreciated.
  • Always use both hands to evenly distribute their weight. 
  • Never leave their hind legs dangling. Scoop them up and hold them gently. 
  • Do not turn your body so they can’t see what’s going on around them. If there is noise or household disturbance, they will easily feel threatened. 
  • Do not lay them down or cradle them (unless they like this), Their belly is a vulnerable spot and benefits from careful cover. 
  • Never pick them up by the scruff of their neck.
  • Keep your kitty close to your chest, with their front paws resting on your shoulder. 
  • Always closely supervise your cat’s interactions with children, and teach them the proper ways to hold a cat before allowing it. 
  • Give your cat space if they show discomfort with your advances. 

If you have additional questions about feline behavior, body language, and their overall health, please call us at (404) 633-6163. Our veterinarians and staff members are always happy to help at Clairmont Animal Hospital.