Pet Talk: Not All Cats Like to Be Picked Up

Q: My cat hates when I pick her up and will bite, scratch and growl, other than that she is a really nice cat. Is there any way I can get her to like being picked up? I sure would like to cuddle her.

A: Cats can be very loving and need affection and touching to know they are loved, but you will have to build a close bond with your kitty before she will trust you enough to be picked up and cuddled. By feeding her by hand, petting and playing with her you should be able to gain her trust.

How you approach your feline before picking her up and how you hold her will contribute to how she reacts. Cats need to be approached in a way that doesn’t scare or surprise them and they also need to feel safe while being held. It is important to provide proper support to your cat when picking her up and holding her. Put one hand under her chest near the front legs and with the other hand hold her hindquarters and back legs. Slowly bring your cat to your chest to further support her body. She will let you know she is happy by relaxing and maybe purring.

Never hold a cat around its middle, and try not to carry her with legs dangling. This is uncomfortable and your cat may react to this method of handling by struggling and even biting and scratching.

Know when your cat no longer wants to be held. Once she starts shifting around, meowing or trying to escape your grasp it’s time to gently set her down. Never hold her against her will as that will make her feel threatened and harder to pick up the next time.

Never pick her up when she doesn’t want to be picked up. If she is scared or angry don’t handle her. You will run the risk of being scratched or bitten.

Unfortunately some friendly and well-socialized cats will never enjoy being picked up and held even if you are handling them right.


Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected].

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