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The Proper Way to Pick up and Hold a Cat

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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.

woman holding 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.

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.