How to Properly Pick Up Your Cat

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If you have just started owning a cat and are not sure if and how your cat likes to be picked up, we have the answers you need. These tips will help you learn the right way to pick up your cat without causing injury or stress.

Approaching and picking up a cat can be intimidating for anyone who is not a self-proclaimed Cat Whisperer. Here are some tips and tricks to help you learn to cuddle even the most finicky cat.


Do cats like to be cuddled?

There is no exact right answer to this question. Some cats crave human contact, while others prefer to hide under the bed or behind the couch. In general, cats can be aloof when it comes to human contact. To determine if your cat is ready for a cuddle, you will need to learn how to interpret your cat’s body language.

Samantha Nigber, a consultant with the ASPCA Behavioral Science Group, says that just as you would pet a cat, you should first assess the situation. Observe the cat’s body language and behavior. Is the tail pointing straight up and gently wagging back and forth? Are its ears perked up? Does it appear relaxed and not afraid to approach you? These are all signs that the child is comfortable and does not want to leave when you try to hold him. In particular, if he comes up to you and rubs up against you, he is giving you a green light to continue holding him.

On the other hand, if the cat is more cautious, such as wagging its tail unsteadily, flattening its ears, or becoming timid, it may not be the best time to try to pick it up. Cats let us know when they want to be left alone, and we need to be sensitive to their feelings.

Neighbour says, “Just as you would pet a cat, if you notice subtle signs such as body tension, pupils dilated, eyes rolled back, tail wagging, or ears wagging back, put the cat down.”

How should you pick up the cat?

After assessing the situation and asking permission, approach the cat in a relaxed manner. Squat down to the cat’s height. The cat will not feel intimidated if you are not towering over it. You can also gain its trust by petting it here and there on the body, such as at the base of the ears or under the chin.

Nighbor says, “If your cat is afraid of being picked up but enjoys your company and being petted, you can try teaching him to like or tolerate being picked up.” After a walk, motivate them to lick baby food or a slice of tuna. This will make them happy to be touched. For cats that don’t like treats, reward them by letting them play with a favorite toy for a few seconds.

Place your dominant hand under the cat’s rib cage (not on its belly). Support the hind legs with the free arm. When you feel comfortable, slowly lift the cat up and pull it to your chest for support. Use the non-dominant arm as a platform to support the hind legs.

Once the cat is up in your arms, remain calm and allow the cat to feel comfortable. Place the non-dominant arm flat on your navel and use it as a shelf across the torso to support the cat’s hips. Support the cat’s upper body with your dominant hand and hold it firmly and gently against your chest.

Once you are comfortable with each other, experiment with different ways to hold the cat in the way it prefers. Some cats like to rest their feet on your arms and look back over your shoulder to admire the view. Some cats like to be held on their backs like babies. Make them more comfortable and secure by petting and talking to them as you explore, says Neighbour. Support him with your non-dominant arm and pet his head and back with your free hand. Talk to them in a soft tone of voice to reassure them.

For small children or those who have not had much contact with cats, he recommends holding them in a sitting position first. This is a good practice to have the cat sit on your lap, as this is also how it is done when preparing for nail clipping.

How do I put the cat down? (Hint: Gently)

When you and the cat feel that you have hugged it enough, gently put it down. If the cat begins to squirm, instruct children to let go immediately. Children tend to hug tightly, which leads to accidental scratching. Crouch down to the ground from a standing position and bring the cat’s paws as close to the ground as possible. Once the cat knows what is happening, it will come out of your arms on its own. Even if you don’t get to the crouch in time, don’t worry. The cat will (almost) always land on its feet.

By Sierra Burgos

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