There’s something irresistible about a cute cat. Don’t you just want to pick them up for a hug? Unfortunately, sometimes the cat in question wants nothing to do with that. Use our 9 tips for picking up a cat while keeping the cat at ease. A cat that feels threatened when picked up can also scratch or bite. 

Even if your cat is not a fan of being picked up, there are times when you simply have to pick them up, such as to get them in their carrier (a risky maneuver). Your team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is here with 9 tips for picking up a cat, while keeping them comfortable (and you, scratch-free).

How to Pick Up a Cat

“Here, kitty, kitty…” probably won’t ease your cat into letting you pick them up. Many cats dislike being held and picked up because it keeps them from a quick getaway if there is danger. Cats are able to successfully navigate the world when they are free to sprint off. Picking up your cat and holding them, in a way, goes against this instinct. Kitty may love to be petted but is usually less than thrilled about being picked up.

But there are ways to acclimate your pet to being picked up. We give you 8 simple steps.

9 Tips for Picking Up a Cat

  1. Make sure they are at ease – Get your cat used to being held when they are comfortable and relaxed, such as after playtime or their dinner.
  2. Be at their level – Squat down next to your cat, or sit next to their side. Start to pet them for a few minutes before making any other moves, which puts them at ease.
  3. Look for body language – Never attempt to pick up a cat if they are hissing, growling, or backing away. This could lead to an injury. Watch their body language, and if they seem to be friendly to being held, start slowly. 
  4. Pick them up correctly – As you are squatted down, pick your cat up by placing a hand under the front legs and one under the hindquarters to support them.
  5. Wrap in a blanket – Gently wrapping an upset kitty in a blanket or a towel and hiding their head often helps calm them down if you need to put them in their container.
  6. Gently cradle them – As you have them with the correct hand positions, you can pull them up and close to you. Do this motion slowly, paying close attention to their behavior and comfort. Make contact with your pet’s torso, petting them to make them more comfortable.
  7. Pull them to your chest – Once your kitty is okay with being held, pull them up to the chest so that they can look at your face. Some cats respond by putting their paws on their owners’ faces, or even placing their arms on either side of the shoulders as if to hug.
  8. Let them down – When your cat begins shifting around, squirming, or meowing, this is a signal that they’re ready to be put down. Make sure to honor their needs so that you maintain a positive association with being held. Gently place them on the ground.
  9. Reward your pet – To reinforce the great bonding you just shared, give your pet an extra pat, a small treat, and verbal praise for their affection.

This simple process may not be so simple if your cat is especially afraid or aggressive. If this is the case, consult our team so that we can address the behaviors. When it comes to children, make sure they are old enough to understand the responsibility of following these techniques. Teach your children the cues of when your pet is unhappy or uncomfortable.

We hope our 9 tips for picking up a cat help you enjoy more kitty snuggles. If you need additional help, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please phone us! We’re happy to answer any questions for the well-being of your sweet feline.