How to Hold a Cat Properly

Woman Holding Cat

Once a cat joins your household, everything becomes different. Your fluffy friend can literally show you the meaning of love and affection and will immediately become an irreplaceable member of your family.

It only makes sense that you want to spend most of your time holding and cuddling your furry baby. But are you holding your cat properly? Could you be causing any harm by the way you’re holding your small kitten or adult cat?

Keep on reading because, in this article, you’ll learn how to hold a cat adequately, so it feels comfortable in your arms. You will also learn about the do’s and don’ts of dealing with your kitty. So, let’s dive in.

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How to Hold a Cat

Cats are fluffy creatures that love to cuddle and be held. But they’re also known for being easily scared and resistant to affection if it doesn’t work for them.

Your goal is that you want your cat to feel loved and protected, but unless you do it the right way, you might end up scaring it. If you’re holding someone’s cat for the first time, they might be even more cautious around you because cats aren’t that friendly with strangers.

Luckily, there are multiple ways and methods that you can try if you want to hold a cat, whether it’s yours or belongs to someone else. Just follow the steps and experiment with various methods until you find one that actually works.

How to Pick Up a Cat

Paying attention to the cat’s body language and attitude will help you know if it’s ready to be touched. If you want to take your cat for a walk, up the stairs, or simply want to hold it, you need to ask yourself if the cat actually wants to be held.

Cats are moody creatures, and they might not be comfortable about being touched sometimes. Even if you’re dealing with your cat, you need to be careful of the signs of its body to know if you can approach it or not.

If you feel that the cat is angry, moody, scared, or traumatized, it’s best not to try to hold it. Cats can be extremely aggressive when they feel threatened, even if you haven’t done anything wrong. If this is the case, then you need to learn to read your cat’s body language.

Watch your cat before attempting to carry it. If your cat is trying to hide and is not eager to play, this is a good indication that you might just want to leave it alone for the time being. Cats are very sensitive, and your cat might be angry about something or even not feeling well and may want to spend time alone. Although you might want to play with your cat, your furry baby might think otherwise.

Cats usually seek attention, and even if you’re seeing a friend’s cat for the first time, they might be interested in being rubbed or socializing in general. If the cat is trying to rub its body against your legs, this is a sign that it is OK to get closer because your feline is trying to leave its scent on your body.

If you don’t feel this bonding happening, there might be something traumatizing your cat. It might be upset about the behavior of another feline, or it might not be feeling well. If you see your cat wagging its tail, this is a sign that it’s assessing the current situation, and it’s probably best to wait.

Take a look at the cat’s ears. If the cat’s ears are facing backward, this is a sign that it’s not feeling well. It’s probably scared or worried about something, so this is not the best time to try to hold it. If the ears are facing forward, your cat is in a playful mood, and you can try to hold it.

Approaching the Cat

After assessing your cat’s mood, you need to approach it properly. Wrong and sudden moves can put off your furry baby, even if it’s in a playful mood.

Get on your knees or crouch down to be at your cat’s level. Cats and especially kittens, will be extremely scared if you’re towering over them because they will be threatened. Keep your cat closer to your torso, as this will allow it to rub its scent against your body, so they will feel safe.

Place your hand behind your cat’s front legs, where you can feel the rib cage and not the belly. Pressing your hand against the belly will press the internal organs and make your cat uncomfortable. A kitten might be in pain and even subject to danger if you hold it too tight.

Use the other hand to support the cat’s back legs and bottom. Once your hands are properly positioned, you can lift the cat as you’re standing up.

When you’re standing up, pull your cat to the chest, as this position will make it feel more secure. You can even use a towel to wrap the cat’s body and make sure that it’s warm and safe.

Experiment with different positions to find the most suitable one for your cat. Some cats prefer to face you with the paws resting against your chest. Others prefer to have their backs pressed against your torso.

Pet your cat while you’re holding it. Stroking the cat will soothe it and make it feel more comfortable and secure. In this position, a cat might even take a quick nap.

You can only scruff a cat in the case of an emergency like it’s in danger, and you need to move it away immediately. This position prevents the cat from scratching you if it’s triggered. You can also do this if you need to administer medication and your furry baby is struggling, but it’s not the most appropriate way to hold your cat for fun.

Putting the Cat Down

After holding the cat, you need to know how to put it down properly. You should support the body’s weight so your cat feels comfortable while you’re putting it down.

Put your arms against your torso to create a platform that supports the cat’s weight. Support the cat’s hind legs as it steps out of your arms. Lower the cat properly and let go of it when the feet touch the ground. In most cases, your cat will simply jump out of your arms, but if you feel that it’s not ready, you might want to carry it a little bit longer.

Although cats are jumpers and land safely most of the time, you shouldn’t let go of the cat if it’s expecting to be held, especially if you’re carrying a kitten, a pregnant, or a sick cat.

Tips For Holding Your Cat Safely

Carrying a cat for the very first time can have a huge impact on your relationship. Follow these tips to make sure that you and your cat are having a good time.

Make sure that you’re not wearing anything that might trigger your cat. Itchy fabric or overpowering scents can turn your cat off, so pay attention to its body language if you feel that it’s not comfortable.

Avoid direct eye contact with the cat, as some cats perceive this as a threat. You can look into the cat’s eyes if it gets used to you and feels comfortable around you.

Extend your hand towards the cat. When the cat sniffs you, it will get used to your scent, and it will be easier for you to carry it later on.

Watch a child if they’re attempting to carry a cat for the first time. Children can be extremely enthusiastic while holding cats to the point of hurting them.

Start early if you want to hold your cat. Early socialization happens before the age of 12 weeks. After that, it will be more difficult to hold a cat.

Be careful while holding and handling kittens. Kittens have very weak bodies, and touching them too much can upset their mother and even cause her to reject them. Keep an eye on the mother’s body language, and see if it allows you to approach its newborn kittens.

When you hold a kitten or cat for the very first time, spend only a few minutes while doing so. Practice holding your cat and putting it down gently several times, and if it’s a kitten, try to be gentler.

Start by holding the cat and putting it down in the same place without taking it away from its mother. If the cat or kitten seems uncomfortable, try to approach it at another time.

If you’re approaching a strange cat, you need to know that cats can be very nervous around strangers. Try to come closer to the cat so it gets familiar with your scent. You also need to be careful while calculating your moves, so you shouldn’t approach the cat too fast or too aggressively.

Get to know the cat’s personality. Some cats are not fond of being held or touched, and you might not be able to change that, especially if you’re dealing with a friend’s cat. 

If the cat’s owner is nearby, ask them about the cat’s preferences. You should also ask them to see if the cat suffers from a medical problem and shouldn’t be carried or held. Some owners simply don’t prefer to have their cats touched, and in this case, you need to respect their wishes.

Use positive reinforcement with your cat. If you’re training your cat to be held and it doesn’t get fussy, acknowledge the good behavior and give your cat a small treat or reward. Scratching the cat’s body is also assuring.

Avoid punishing your cat even if it acts roughly. Punishment can make your cat act even more aggressively.

Final Thoughts

Cats are sensitive creatures that love to be held and rubbed. But knowing how to hold your cat properly will guarantee the best results. You need to be careful while approaching a cat for the very first time. Give your cat time until it gets used to being held, and be extra cautious if you’re dealing with a kitten.