In general, if cats had their choice, many would probably prefer to never be picked up and held. For a cat, there’s tremendous security in having all paws on the ground and the ability to move at will.
For many cats, being picked up and lifted off the ground creates stress. If the cat is fearful or not used to being picked up, it can potentially create a situation in which someone may get scratched or bitten. A cat struggling to scramble out of a person’s grasp can also cause injury to herself if she falls to the ground.
Know Your Cat’s Tolerance Level
Be sensitive to your cat’s tolerance levels and always have a purpose for picking her up. If your cat loves being held, then enjoy that closeness, but if she doesn’t, be respectful of the fact that lifting her up changes her level of security.
Don’t insist of holding a struggling cat with the intention of getting her to surrender or adjust. The longer you hold a squirmy, unhappy cat, the more she’ll hate being held the next time.
If your cat hates being picked up and held, slow down and just focus on being able to put one hand on her side and then releasing. Work up to placing a hand on each side and then letting go. When she’s comfortable with that you can then use very gentle pressure when you place your hands on her sides and then let go and praise and reward your cat. Do this several times before you attempt to pick the cat up. Make sure she’s comfortable with being touched.
Your Approach Shouldn’t Startle or Appear Threatening
Don’t grab your unsuspecting cat from behind in order to pick her up. No one likes being startled. Your cat should be aware of your presence but approach in a non-threatening way. Don’t make a direct approach from the front as that might cause some cats to feel threatened. If the only way you’re able to pick up your cat is to sneak up behind her and grab her quickly then maybe it’s time to do some gentle training.
The Proper Technique for Holding a Cat
Some cats have very definite preferences when it comes to how they like to be held but your most important job is to provide security for both of you. The cat must feel secure in your arms and you must ensure you keep the kitty safe. No one must get injured in this process whether feline or human.
Specific handling techniques vary depending upon your cat’s comfort level and the particular environment (carrying a cat in a shelter, veterinary clinic or outdoors involves more concern with preventing escape). In general, you must always use both hands when picking up a cat. Even though the cat may be small enough that you could scoop her up with one hand, it’s not secure and it certainly won’t be comfortable for the cat. Have you seen someone holding a cat by one hand where the poor kitty’s legs are left dangling? Not comfortable or at all secure. Always hold a cat, no matter how small, with both hands. Use one hand to cradle and support her back end. To secure the front end, it will depend on your cat’s preference and whether you’re in a safe environment or one where escape could prove dangerous. Most cats want to be supported under the chest so they can rest their front paws on your arm. This is the typical way many cat parents carry their cats in safe environments. If the cat is in an environment where escape would be dangerous, hold the front end by securing the front legs with the fingers of one hand while the other hand cradles the back end and holds the hind legs. If in an environment where escaping from your arms could be dangerous then the best method of transport is to have the cat securely in a carrier.