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The Proper Way to Pick up and Hold a Cat

The first few training sessions shouldn’t involve any walking around – just let her get comfortable with being held and then placed back down. Hold the cat close to your chest so she doesn’t feel as if she’s suspended in mid-air. Hold securely but don’t grip so tightly your cat feels uncomfortable. What matters most when holding a cat is that you need to make sure you have her securely and safely held and that she feels comfortable.

Don’t Cradle Your Cat on Her Back

You love your cat like a member of the family but may even call her your baby but that doesn’t mean she wants to be held like one. There are some cats who don’t mind being carried that way but most don’t like being placed on their backs and held. It’s also a somewhat dangerous position to carry her because all claws will be pointed toward your face. That’s not a good position to be in if your cat gets scared or upset while being held.

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Placing Your Cat Back Down

Don’t let your cat leap for your arms and don’t just drop her when you’re done holding her. Gently place her back on the floor, cat tree or another surface and give her time to get her footing. If you want her to enjoy or even just accept being held, the training process also includes a gentle and safe release.

If you’re training your cat to accept being picked up, keep the sessions short, positive and calm. Always place the cat back down before she shows any sign of struggling.

Don’t Pick Up Your Cat by Scruffing

Scruffing is something the mother cat does when she needs to move her very young kittens. Scruffing and one-handed holding are both uncomfortable and cause the bulk of the cat’s weight to just dangle in the air. Scruffing with one hand while gripping the cat by the hind legs with the other hand is basically putting her in a death grip. While this method will allow you to pick up your cat, it also isn’t doing anything to encourage her to ever want to be picked up and held again.

 

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Never Hold Your Cat to Force Social Interaction

Yes, your cat is incredibly cute and you’d love for guests to see her adorable face up close, but don’t ever pick her up to force social interaction with people or other pets. It’s very stressful for her to find herself restrained in your arms at the same time being face to face with a stranger or unfamiliar animal. Whenever you pick up your cat it should have a purpose that’s beneficial, loving (meaning she should be the one who loves it) or necessary.

Picking Up Your Cat to Put Her in a Carrier

Picking up your cat to shove her in a carrier isn’t a fun experience for anyone and can result in lots of hissing and growling on her part and injury on your part. Take the time to train your cat to be comfortable with going into the carrier so you can gently place her in there without a struggle or least with minimal amount of stress. Here’s an article with more information on how to do that.

Help Your Cat Adjust to a Carrier

Don’t Pick Up Your Cat When She’s Upset

When a cat is unhappy or angry isn’t the best time to try to pick her up. You may want to hold and cuddle your upset cat to comfort her but that typically ends with kitty struggling to get out of your grasp. In these situations, what the cat needs most is some personal space and to be left alone. If you absolutely must pick up an angry cat, use thick towels to cover her first.

Teach Your Children the Proper Technique

Most cats don’t enjoy being held by children because they are either squeezed, dangled or suddenly dropped. They may also be chased down in order to be held. If your children are too young to be taught the proper technique then work on instructing them how to sit next to cat and enjoy petting or how to invite the cat onto their laps. It may even have to start with the cat being on your lap while a child sits nearby. Go slowly and keep things positive and calm. Reward your cat for even the smallest amount of progress. This time of trust-building and security will pay off as you watch your cat become more comfortable with physical touch. Remember, the cat must always have the choice to move away.