Cats are independent animals that like to cuddle and be petted, but many do not like being picked up. It simply is not in their nature. After all, they would not pick each other up or expect any other animal to pick them up in nature, so they are not genetically inclined to enjoy being picked up now that they are domesticated. Cats that are handled by their caretakers from a young age are more likely to tolerate being picked up and held.
Cats that do not like being picked up can be trained to tolerate it with patience and understanding. It’s all about gaining trust and creating a solid bond. Not all cats will come around to getting picked up and will always protest such an act. Some cats seem to like being picked up from the get-go, though. If your kitty enjoys being picked up and held, consider yourself lucky to be able to share that bond with them!
Reasons That a Cat Might Stop Wanting to Be Picked Up
If your cat liked being picked up and held but has recently stopped enjoying it, there are a few reasons behind the new reaction. First, a cat could be in pain or ill, and being held is not comfortable to them. If illness or pain is the problem, other signs should also be present, such as diarrhea, lethargy, limping, and whimpering. A traumatic experience can also cause cats to retreat and stop wanting to be picked up or held.
Having a bad experience with a stranger outside, being attacked by another animal in the house, and being teased by children can all negatively affect your cat and their ability to be open and trusting when interacting with you. If your cat likes to be held by you but does not want other people to pick them up, it could be that they don’t like being picked up in general but trusts you enough to engage in the activity.
Getting a Cat Used to Being Picked Up
Image Credit: zavalnia, Pixabay
If your new pet cat does not seem completely opposed to being picked up, there are a few things that you can do to get them used to it and even enjoy it. It is important not to force your kitty to be held, though, as this will just deter them from wanting to be picked up again in the future. If they resist being picked up, let them go and give them their space.
Forcing your kitty to be held can cause them stress and make them retreat from interactions altogether. To get your cat used to being picked up, start by simply petting them while you are sitting comfortably in a chair or on a couch. Encourage them to get on your lap while you pet them. Once they are comfortable on your lap, gently pick them up and cuddle them against your neck.
Keep practicing these steps until your kitty is comfortable while being held near your neck. Once they are comfortable with the practice, you can start trying to pick them up while you stand. Make slow movements, and always ensure that your kitty knows that they are in charge of when they are held. The process of getting your cat comfortable with being picked up and held can take days, if not weeks, so patience is necessary.
A Short Recap
Many cats don’t like being held because it is not in their nature. Others don’t mind it, and still others can be trained to enjoy it. You can enjoy your cat’s company and bond with one another even if your kitty does not enjoy being picked up. Find other activities to do together that they do enjoy, such as playing fetch and cuddling on the couch.
Featured Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock
Cats, in general, don’t like to be held up but here are ways to make it warm up to the idea:
- Encourage her to come to you willingly
- Carry her with both hands to support her body
- Hold herclose to you, pet her to calm her
- Don’t resist when she wants to go down
- Don’t scruff an adult cat
Do Cats Like Being Picked Up?
Cats are independent creatures. That is a trait that makes them unique pets. As much as you would like to give your cute kitty some love snuggles, she may not enjoy it as you expect. The reasons for your cat reacting poorly to your embrace differ.
Some breeds are known to be less interactive. It could also be you are holding the cat in the wrong way. The cat may have a history with aggressive humans.
However, each cat has a different personality. Some cats enjoy being picked up. Certain breeds such as Ragamuffins and Ragdolls are known to love being held up. Even among these affectionate breeds, some cats will still not want to be held up.
You, therefore, need to understand your cats’ character, and know-how to pick her up with purpose. Here are some tricks that work well, depending on different reasons for a cat being afraid to be held.
1. How to Hold a Cat that Scares Easily
What to avoid doing
Put yourself in the cat’s shoes. You see a huge creature reaching down to you to pick you up.
A cat can easily get terrified of such an experience. If your cat normally gets startled by loud noises, there are higher chances she will run away if you try to hold her.
My cat always takes off each time I switch on the hairdryer or vacuum cleaner. And yes, she is the type that does not like to be picked up. Give the cat some space and let her approach when they feel like it.
Avoid an approach that startles or seem threatening. Grabbing your cat from behind to pick her up can be so surprising to a cat that scares easily. Ensure your approach does not appear frightening.
How to Do It
Cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett suggests holding the cat close to your chest and walking around. You can put her down after such brief sessions.
The most important thing is to ensure the cat feels comfortable in the held position. Not suspended in mid-air or too tight to make her feel uneasy.
There are 3 main steps to ensure your cat is comfortable:
- Hold them close to your body
- Support its body weight by both hands
- Place a hand under your cat’s back feet to stop its feet from dangling
2. Holding a Cat with a Past Negative Experience of Being Held
The moment you hold up a cat, she immediately feels out of control. Their movement is restrainedand she feels trapped. Granted, cats want to have an aerial view of their territory. But they want to be on such heights by jumping on higher grounds, not being held.
Dr. Wailani Sung, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, says a cat who does like being held may have past bad memories of being held. It could be from the last time she was physically restrained for vaccinations or to have her nails trimmed.
Such negative experiences can train a cat to be wary each time you hold her up. If a cat met a cruel human before you adopted her, she would assume all humans are cruel.
Constant social interaction with your cat will help itfeel secure. Handling your cat even for just 15 minutes each day can go a long way in gaining her trust.
Holding is Not How Cats Naturally Greet Each Other – What You Can Do
When cats meet for the first time, they don’t pick each other up. A cat will approach her fellow slowly; they sniff, lick, and rub on each other. Understandably, a cat will feel awkward if you carry her as a sign of greeting.
The cat may interpret your actions as an attack. Dr. Sung says the cat may assume something terrible is going to happen to them, such as being eaten.
Don’t force physical interaction if you see your cat does not like being held up. She will become even more reluctant to approach you in the future. Respect your cats’ preferences.
Avoid putting your cat on the shoulders. She will dig her claws into your skin and end up hurting you. She will have great difficulty maintaining her balance in such a high position, thus increasing her anxiety.
4. How to Hold a Cat Who Is Not Properly Socialized
If your cat didn’t interact with humans so much as a kitten, it might exhibit feral tendencies. According to the Cornell Book of the Cat, kittens born in the wild may hiss when coming into contact with humans even at 3 weeks of age.
But kittens of the same age handled by humans will not react the same way.
Cats not properly socialized tend to be fearful and suspicious. It is your job to assure her that nothing bad will happen when you hold her. Pet her under the chin before picking her up. Speak to her in a low voice.
If she gets aggressive, put her down but don’t throw her. Offer her a treat after each of these sessions. This helps reinforce good behavior.
It is also good to take note of a change in behavior. If the cat liked to be held before, but now it is resisting, or exhibits pain when touched, she could have a physical injury.
Don’t Pick Your up Cat by the Scruff of Its Neck
Scruffing a cat is lifting a cat through pulling the skin of its back neck. This is often thought to be the recommended way of picking up a cat. Only a parent cat would carry her kittens this way
Yet, it is not necessary and could be harmful to an adult cat because it has weight. The method leaves her body suspended and could be painful for her. The cat might even fear you more.
Only veterinarians hold a cat by the scruff. They have been trained to do so to control the cat for various procedures and examinations. On normal occasions,you should pick up your cat by holding it with both hands as you support its weight.
It is always advisable to be gentle when handling a cat. Pull her close to your chest for her to feel comfortable and secure.
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The first instinct for most people is to pick up a cat when they see it. While some cats love to be picked up and snuggled, other cats detest it. Therefore, you probably ask yourself: do cats like being picked up?
Most cats do not like to be picked up. Cats that are in pain, fearful, or lack trust will not want to be picked up.
You might think it’s strange that cats have different preferences, but you will learn why some cats like to be picked up as you keep reading.
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Is It Bad To Pick Up My Cat
As long as your cat does not mind being picked up, picking up your cat is not a bad thing.
Some cats love to be held by their owners, which means that it is not a bad idea to pick up your cat. Your cat is a living animal, so it is essential to be careful with him at all times.
It is not a great idea to pick up cats that are scared or do not enjoy being picked up. You might find it fun to pick up a cat that struggles, but it may have adverse effects on your cat. He may become mean or start to hide from you in response.
Does It Hurt My Cat When I Pick Her Up
If your cat is older, then you may hurt your cat when you pick her up.
Although picking up your cat is not inherently harmful, a senior cat may be hurt if you pick her up.
This does not mean that you specifically hurt your cat. Stiff or painful joints could already make your elderly cat uncomfortable, which could make it difficult to enjoy being picked up.
Does It Hurt Cats When You Pick Them Up By Their Neck
It does not hurt your cat to pick them up by their neck, but you should only do it when necessary.
You may have seen a cat carry kittens by the scuff on the back of the kitten’s neck.
Cats freeze up when you hold them by the back of their neck. This could be useful when you catch a stray cat.
Although it makes the job easier, you should refrain from picking up your cat by the back of his neck. It has more potential to hurt your cat than picking them up from around their middle.
Why Do Some Cats Not Like To Be Picked Up
All cats have different personalities, which means that some cats hate being picked up.
As a cat owner, you already know that not all cats were made equal. Some cats love to be picked up, while others hate it.
Your cat’s personality will dictate whether or not they liked to be picked up. A clingy, snuggly cat will enjoy being picked up, while a more independent cat will act like you just crossed him.
How Do You Pick Up A Cat That Doesn’t Want To Be Picked Up
You should avoid picking up a cat that does not want to be picked up, but if you must, you should act quickly and deliberately.
Most times, you can avoid picking up a cat. Sometimes, though, it is necessary. If a cat hurts his leg, you may have to pick him up even if he hates it.
The best method is to pick up the cat swiftly. Calculate what your moves will be and quickly grab the cat around his ribs to pick him up before he can bolt.
If your cat is violent when picked up or picking up a stray cat, it may be a good idea also to wear a pair of gloves.
Is It Ok To Hold A Cat Like A Baby
It is okay to hold a cat like a baby, but you should not do it all the time.
Some people think that holding a cat like a baby means you will hurt your cat, but that is not the case.
As long as you properly support your cat when you pick him up, you will not hurt your cat.
Still, it is essential to know that it is possible to hurt your cat if you hold him too tightly or do not support his back.
Why Do Some Cats Like To Be Held Like A Baby
Some cats like to be held close and enjoy the attention they receive when being picked up like a baby.
If you’re holding a cat like a baby, then there is a good chance that you’re giving your cat a lot of attention too.
Therefore, a cat that enjoys attention and being picked up is going to adore that you hold him like a baby.
What Is The Correct Way To Pick Up A Cat
The best way to pick up a cat is by holding him around his chest and ribs.
When you pick up your cat, you should lift it from his around his ribs. Do not grab the softer part of his stomach, his tail, the back of his neck, or his legs.
Quickly but gently lift your cat, and either place him where you want him or hold him firmly in your arms.
Things To Consider
Whether your cat loves to be picked up or not, there are times where you cannot avoid picking up your cat. This is probably when it’s time for a trip to the vet, and you need to put your cat in the cat carrier.
Here are some tips if you need to put a cat that does not like to be picked up in your carrier:
- Open your cat carrier and allow your cat to walk into it. This may take longer than stuffing your cat into the carrier, but it will mean that you do not get scratched.
- Lift your cat quickly if you need to pick him up. While you should not aim to scare your cat, it may be easier to grab your cat from behind when your cat is not expecting it.
- Try a different kind of cat carrier. Some cat carriers open from the top, but some carriers open from the front as well.
- Try a leash. Now, if you have a testy cat who needs to go to the vet, a harness and leash might be a good option for you to try.
It is best to work with your cat slowly, but sometimes, picking up a cat is not in the cards.
Different cats can have very different preferences. As a result, while generalizations can be very useful for understanding most cats, it is important to note that there can be exceptions to these rules. In any case, most cats do not enjoy being picked up by their cat owners, though the exact reason is unclear. Here are some of the potential reasons that cats don’t enjoy being picked up by their cat owners:
Cats are predators. However, it is important to note that cats are predators that also happen to be prey. For example, coyotes have been making their way to both urban and suburban areas in recent decades, which is a serious concern because they are more than opportunistic enough to predate upon cats when the chance comes up. Likewise, larger birds of prey might decide to attack cats as well, thus resulting in serious injuries thanks to their talons as well as their ability to drop their victims from great heights. On top of this, there are a lot of other animals that can cause serious damage to cats in a physical confrontation, with examples including but by no means limited to raccoons, porcupines, and snakes.
As such, much of feline behavior is motivated by an instinctual understanding that cats are predators that also happen to be prey. One excellent example would be how cats like to be in high-up places. First, this is because the height protects them from other animals that cannot climb as well as they can. Second, this is because the height enables them to look out upon their surroundings, thus enabling them to respond faster to potential threats. Another excellent example would be how cats like to hide in secure locations, which enable them to rest and relax while being concealed from their enemies.
Being picked up can cause a serious sense of fear in cats because that isn’t a standard part of cat-to-cat interaction. As a result, they are likely to see it as something strange, which in turn, makes them likely to see it as something that is potentially threatening to them. Granted, being picked up means that cats are situated higher-up. However, that doesn’t actually come as much consolation because they are held by someone else rather than situated there on their own while retaining full control over their physical presence.
Speaking of which, it is perfectly possible that a cat doesn’t enjoy being picked up because they aren’t being picked up in the right way, thus resulting in physical discomfort. Certainly, a human would struggle if we were picked up in a weird way, so it should come as no surprise to learn that cats will do the same under the same circumstances. Due to this, interested individuals might be able to get a cat to react better if they pick them up in the right way.
Generally speaking, cat owners should use both hands to pick up their cats. One hand should go under the cat’s front legs, while the other hand should support the cat’s back legs as well as hind quarters. Once that has been carried out, the cat owner can then pick up the cat so that they are securely cradled in one arm while the other arm serves to hold on to them. Interested individuals should never let a cat’s legs dangle because that tends to make them feel unsafe and insecure. Similarly, interested individuals should not hold on to a cat in too firm a manner unless they are doing so for reasons of safety. In other cases, if the cat starts to squirm or otherwise struggle against the hold, it is time to let them go.
As for putting a cat down once they have been picked up, there isn’t much to say besides that the cat owner should lower them to the ground rather than let them jump down from their arms. Yes, cats are quite good at managing jumps from considerable distances. However, it isn’t a universal ability, particularly since a lot of pet cats are either inexperienced or in less than stellar physical condition. For that matter, making a cat jump down tends to make them unsafe and insecure, so it is a better idea to make the process as easy for them as possible.
In some cases, cats might have had negative experiences when they were being held by someone else. For example, they might have had been vaccinated while being held. Likewise, they might have had their nails trimmed while being held. Cats are more than capable of forming connections between such events, so if they have had some negative experiences while being held, that could cause them to become agitated when treated in such a manner.
Interested individuals might notice cats that were once receptive to being picked up and held becoming less so. It is possible that the cat has picked up some kind of medical issue that is causing either pain or discomfort, though that is by no means guaranteed to be the case. In any case, if interested individuals notice this as well as other potential signs of a medical issue, they should get their cat checked out by a veterinarian sooner rather than later. Like with humans, cats tend to have much better health outcomes when their medical issues are detected as soon as possible. Something that is particularly true because cats can’t communicate in the same way that humans can, meaning that their medical issues tend to take longer to become known by the rest of the household.
There are some suggestions that might help interested individuals pick up a cat without agitating them too much in the process. One, they might want to work on their cat’s tolerance for being picked up over time. Being forceful in this matter is never good because that will just make the cat dislike being picked up even more. Instead, it is best to build up slowly while using positive reinforcement to make them associate being picked up with good things rather than bad things. Two, interested individuals should never try to pick up their cats with the result that they are startled or otherwise threatened in the process. They don’t react well to that kind of thing, so it is best to give it up before they become even more opposed to being picked up.
– that is, if you can manage to pick her up in the first place as she will struggle and scratch to break free.
Having said that, I’ve recently noticed that she no longer struggles if I do pick her up, preferring instead to just glare at me. Hubby can’t get anywhere near to picking her up and he has the scars to prove it!
Is there anything I can do to make her more accepting of being cuddled?
I don’t know if there’s anything you can do. I think cats who like to be picked up were cuddled and held as kittens. Mony hates to be picked up and will meow the whole time until I put her down. The longest I’ve held her is probably under 30 seconds.
Penny and Siouxsie, however, were adopted as kittens by my boyfriend, and he held them all the time, so they enjoy it.
Every cat is different. I think it has as much to do with their personalities as with how they were raised.
Shareena was my first kitten, 7.5 weeks old when I got her. She likes to be carried around, either draped across my shoulder or holding her like a baby and scratching under her chin. I do have to be standing or walking the whole time, though. As soon as I sit down she’s gone.
Miss Patchwillow is Shareena’s sister, but I didn’t get her until she was 3 months old. She loves to be held, carried, cuddled–any time, anywhere.
Goldy was dumped near my house last summer, obviously had been an indoor cat and very loving, but she doesn’t want to be picked up or carried. She doesn’t scratch me, but she does squirm to get down. On the other hand, as soon as I sit down she’s plastered against my leg and she sleeps on top of me at night. I guess the cuddling just has to be on her terms.
Cali is one of Goldy’s kittens, born August 23, so I’ve had her from birth. Cali likes to be held but only for a short time. She’s just too active to settle for long-term cuddling.
Iris is another of Goldy’s kittens. She loves to be held. I think if I got one of those baby snugglers she would be happy to have me carry her around all day.
One of my cats loves to be picked up. The other one, whom I’ve had for nine years, has always gotten very still and wary when picked up — he’d tolerate it, but he wouldn’t enjoy it and would get away at the first chance.
He seems to not hate it so much these days — and you know, sometimes you just have to pick up your cat and hug him.
I think sometimes now when he nudges me when I’m standing it’s to get me to pick him up, although when I try to, he’ll run away and come back and run away, etc.
He’s also only sat on my lap twice in nine years, but he’ll sleep next to me at night. The other guy is semi-permanently glued to my thigh.
They just have different temperaments.
Girlie doesn’t mind so much if you walk around and pet her. As soon as you sit down she’ll try to squirm out of your arms.
Obie doesn’t like being picked up but once you have him he doesn’t struggle. Oscar will crouch down and tense up which makes him feel heavier and harder to pick up. When you have Oscar he’ll stare off into space like he’s retreated to his “happy place”.
All three HATED being picked up when we got them last summer. We started off picking them up briefly (few seconds) so they got used to it. Gradually we’d hold them a little longer. They’re progressing at different rates but so far it seems to be working.
Zero doesn’t mind being held, so long as he’s not in play mode. There’s something very calming about holding him, since he purrs readily and is so big and soft.
Pumpkin tends to make this mooing sound that sounds like “nooooooo!” when she’s picked up. sometimes it’s more of a squawk though. Sometimes she’ll let me hold her for a bit, depending on her mood. She doesn’t do laps either.
We’re pretty sure Zero was born feral, but with Pumpkin we’re not so sure.
Originally Posted by Pui Hang
Is there anything I can do to make her more accepting of being cuddled?
Minka loves it, Leo hates it, Taxi tolerates it.
Minka likes being held so much that one time Todd carried her to bed upside down without realizing it. She purred the whole way.
Jack likes to be held, but not for a terribly long time–he loved it as a baby-he liked to be up over my shoulder.
Harley hated it. He was a stray for the first year of life. But we’ve worked on it alot since he’s been here and he’s gotten much better. One thing was figuring out how he was most comfortable being held–he likes to be held sort of in an odd way–lots of support under his little bum. The one thing I try to make a point of is never letting him jump from my arms when he starts to sort of freak out. I am always sure to set him down, so he knows he won’t be dropped and that if he squirms momma will put him down, he doesn’t need to jump. I usually just sort of squat when I hold him, so he’s not real far from the ground, only holding him for 30 seconds or so, so he doesn’t freak out–making it a positive experience. He’s come a long way in the 9-10 months he’s been here.
When you pick up your cat, what do you get? A limp, ragdoll of a feline who melts contentedly in your arms? A squirming, frantic furball determined to get away from you at any cost? For some cats, being picked up and held can be a negative experience, for others, that type of affection is absolute bliss. Cats who don’t like being picked up and held often feel this way because it’s unfamiliar or just uncomfortable, but you can make being picked up a little easier for your cat if you need to.
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Do all cats hate being held?
No! Like people, dogs, and any other living thing on the planet, each cat will have his or her own preference in regard to anything, including whether they like being held or not, and their openness to affection in general. If you’re dealing with a cat you don’t know well or see a cat outside that you feel inclined to hold for any reason, it’s always best to err on the side of “this thing is going to claw and bite me” rather than assume he will tolerate being picked up. Some stray cats, young, unsocialized cats, and cats who live primarily outside are among those who may especially dislike being picked up, but this can apply to any and all cats, depending on their preferences.
Why do some cats dislike it?
One reason why a cat may not like to be picked up is simply that picking up a cat, or being picked up by a cat, is just not natural cat behavior. While mother cats will grip their kittens by the scruff of the neck when they are small enough to do so without injury, lifting up a fellow feline isn’t something you’d normally see, even when attempting to display affection. Additionally, negative experiences that occur around when a cat has been picked up in the past, like painful or stressful trips to a vet, can also leave a very bad association and may lead to anxiety around being held later on.
Sometimes, and this is especially true in older cats, being picked up is physically uncomfortable due to an illness or injury. Arthritic felines may find it unpleasant to have their bodies manipulated and squeezed while being picked up or held and may resist for that reason. If you know your cat dislikes being picked up and you don’t need to do it, it’s always best to spare them the ordeal. Sometimes, however, a cat owner will need to scoop up their cat for one reason or another, in which case there are some tips that can make things a bit easier on both of you.
How to make your cat comfortable
If you have a cat, there will be times when she will need to be picked up and held, even if just for a moment. Going to the veterinarian, a groomer’s appointment, or even just to be inspected in the event of an injury, or a random burr caught in her fur. If you need to pick up a cat who doesn’t enjoy it, there are a couple of things you can do to make things easier for everyone, and a bit more pleasant for your cat. Offering positive reinforcement, like a favorite treat, during a potentially negative experience, or during ordeals you know your cat dislikes, like being crated or having her nails trimmed, can help her create good associations with being picked up.
If a cat owner needs to pick up a cat who absolutely hates being picked up, they can try the burrito hold technique. This can ensure that your feline won’t squirm away, can reduce the chances of you being scratched, and will make the situation as pleasant and quick as possible for her. Start by laying out a towel and place a small plate of food or a few treats on it. Next, have your cat step onto the towel, and once she’s a bit relaxed gently press down on her shoulders so that she lays down with her head facing away from you. Wrap the front end of the towel around her neck like a bib, taking care to hold onto her. Then, take one of the side ends of the towel and wrap it over the top of her body, before doing the same thing in the opposite direction with the other end of the towel until she is securely wrapped.
Pretty selfish post for me really – I wish my cats liked being picked up and sitting with me!
They are really happy cats and adore being stroked and fussed, flopping down and inviting you to tickle them but they never jump up to sit with me and don’t really enjoy a pick up & cuddle. I pick them up for a little cuddle when I get in from work but I might get 10 seconds . if I’m lucky!! I always put them down the instant they wriggle and i never place them on my knee or anything, just keep “inviting” them up!
I wonder if this might change in time or if cats are either fussy cats or they’re not? I admit I always thought all cats loved sitting on a warm lap and a big cuddle!
Mine like a fuss on their own terms. i.e. if they initiate it by jumping on my lap, having a quick pet only for as long as they want, which generally isn’t long!
They don’t mind a quick pet in between if they are sitting somewhere and I stroke them in passing, but they don’t relish being picked up. One grumbles and the other one nips!
Mine like the odd cuddle when I want to cuddle them, but only like me picking them up for a few seconds.
I find they want to lie on me when they want to, but like my big fluffy blanket, so if I spread that on my lap, they are more likely to want to lie on me, rather than just on my legs.
My late Tabitha hated being picked up but she loved to come and sit on my lap for a good stroking/sleeping session – but it had to be at her instigation, she wouldn’t tolerate me putting her on my lap. My Bernard is just not a lap cat but he loves a good cuddle/ petting session and will always stay very close beside me. He hates being picked up too.
I’ve got 2 rescues like yourself. Millie is very affectionate but again this has to be on her terms and, when I come home from work, she shows she is pleased by repeatedly rubbing herself excitedly against Bernard, never against me and she’s not really a lap cat except when I’m in bed. I just don’t bother even trying to pick her up because she’s too wriggly. Little Lucy was very reserved when she first came to live with me but I’ve now realised that she responds very well to me picking her up and placing her on my lap where she’ll curl up and purr for hours (if I let her). She’s the only cat I can pick up and cuddle – she seems to like it. She’s also the only cat I can easily place in her cat basket! I encounter so much stress and difficulty with putting Bernard and Millie in their cat baskets that I have avoided using the cattery for the last couple of times that I’ve gone away – I’m dreading their annual vet visit.
It’s lovely having a lap cat but my problem always was not wanting to disturb their comfort and happiness – I’d stay in a really uncomfortable position for hours and delay things I needed to do because I didn’t want to upset my Tabitha by removing her from my lap or chest. I’d sometimes avoid sitting down if, I was planning to go out soon, if I could see Tabitha watching and waiting expectantly for a cosy lap to appear. There are definite advantages to not having lap cats.
The British Shorthair is a bit of a contradiction. With their cuddly appearance, round faces and thick plush fur, cats of this breed look as if they were made to be picked up and hugged. They’re also fairly sociable and amiable, readily becoming attached to their special humans and happy to spend time with them. Yet this breed rarely produces an out-and-out lap cat. The British Shorthair is cordial but reserved, offering affection in an independent way. For me, their independence has always been part of their charm but some owners may find it frustrating. If you want a clingy animal who fawns on you and constantly craves hugs and affection, the British Shorthair is not for you. Later in this article, we’ll mention some other breeds who can complement her reserved personality with their more demonstrative ones.
Do British Shorthairs like to be picked up? As a general rule, no. They like to be close to you but prefer not to be dragged around like a stuffed animal. They’ll often trot at your heels as you walk around and sit nearby when you’re doing something but they usually won’t jump into your lap. Picking up and holding your British Shorthair may take her outside of her comfort zone, leaving you feeling rejected and her feeling unsettled. Keep pick-ups and hugs brief, and get used to the ways this cats need plenty of attention from their humans to be happy. Remember, this is the same breed prefers to show affection.
As a caring cat owner, you probably have a number of questions. This page is here to help you find the answers you’re looking for. How can you persuade your British Shorthair to let you pick her up? If you can’t pick her up and snuggle her, how do you and she show each other affection? When you need to lift your cat, how can you do it safely and without injury to either of you? For the answers to these and other questions, please keep reading. We’ve got the inside scoop on your British Shorthair.
The ups and downs of lifting your British Shorthair
Do British Shorthair cats like to be picked up? There are certainly exceptions who do, I’ve known one or two who were quite happy to be scooped up and cradled like a giant furry baby for as long as their owners’ arms could take the strain. They definitely were exceptions, however. The typical British Shorthair is decidedly reluctant to be lifted up and doesn’t enjoy long spells of being held in your arms like some cats.
If you pick her up and place her on your lap, the average British Shorthair won’t curl up and purr – she’ll simply jump down and walk off. On the whole, they’re not a touchy-feely breed, preferring a hands-off approach to showing affection. They do like petting, in moderation, and will even permit that greatest liberty of all: the fabled tummy-rub. Snatching your British Shorthair off the ground for an extended round of snuggling is probably going to end up with her wriggling out of your arms and making a bolt for the nearest inaccessible spot, where she will sit and groom herself while shooting you filthy looks.
If you persist and make a regular habit of transgressing her firm feline boundaries, you may succeed in thoroughly alienating her. Your British Shorthair cat is an intelligent beast and learns from experience. If the sight of a particular human has previously heralded an extended round of undignified forced cuddles, she will remember this and start avoiding that nuisance of a human in future.
This breed is renowned for being loyal and patient but everyone has their limits. Once you’ve convinced a British Shorthair that you’re a wrong’un, it can be surprisingly difficult to get back into her good graces. Just because they look like teddy bears, you shouldn’t mistake your British Shorthair for a plushy. If she decides to climb into your lap under her own steam then you might try helping her up there again in future; you should always let your cat set the pace of an encounter, however. She has her boundaries just like you, and if you positively insist on transgressing them you will create friction between yourself and your cat.
This breed is actually very loving and devoted, they simply prefer more subtle demonstrations of their deep affection. Learning to treat your British Shorthair with respect is an important part of being a loving and responsible cat owner. Your cat doesn’t want a difficult, fractious relationship any more than you do; give her the space she needs and let her come to you.
How do I properly show affection to my British Shorthair?
So you’ve got a cat you sincerely adore and you want to help build a good strong bond between you, while still respecting your pet’s needs and boundaries. That’s the correct attitude for a caring cat owner. Now, although your British Shorthair doesn’t like being grabbed and manhandled, that isn’t to say she’s indifferent to you. Far from it!
Your British Shorthair will probably form quite a solid bond with you. They are really very loving cats. They demonstrate this in a number of ways. Your British Shorthair may show her love by waiting by the door when you’re due to return home, by trundling around the house at your heels and by parking themselves nearby when you sit down to relax. These cats will often pick out a favourite spot to sit in where they can enjoy your company without feeling crowded.
When it comes to showing affection to our cats (or any other living being), it is natural for us to show affection through physical touch. Picking up, cuddling, and kissing. But love languages can differ not only from person to person but also from species to species.
So why do cats seem to reject our display of affection when we want to pick them up?
Why your cat hates being picked up: An adult cat might have a hard time accepting your form of affection because it is unnatural to them. Secondly, being held is a restrictive act – and we all know cats love their freedom. When they are restricted, they feel threatened and hence, they want to flee from us.
Heard of this phrase, “if you love me, let me go”? This applies aptly on cats when it comes to affection.
However, it is not true for all cats. Some cats are indeed cuddly and needy. Can we transform our heartbreakers into more ‘affectionate’ felines? Yes! But first, let’s understand where this behavior is coming from.
Being Picked Is An Unnatural Way Of Affection For Them
If you observe closely, you would notice that cats are generally not picked. When it comes to adult cats, they feel more secure being on their four paws than being picked up.
Picking them up like babies activates a feeling of threat. We are, naturally, a predator to them and they are prey. Now that we have collectively decided to keep them as pets, they don’t seem to get the same message.
For them, more natural ways of affection are head bunting, them curling their tail on your legs while excitedly asking for food, being fed, and some playtime. But they want to do all that knowing that they are independent.
The streak of independence is really strong in them than in dogs.
They Perceive It As A Threat
Being held translates to being restricted. That is often true when it comes to handling cats. For example, you hold them when you
– do not want them to enter a certain room
– do not want them to flee when they are getting their shots
– do not want them to run away when they are having a bath, etc.
All these are perceived as threats to them. Although your intentions might be good, they don’t fully trust you.
If you train them to trust you enough, they can become more domesticated than the rest. Sometimes, there are certain breeds of cats that are more friendly and trusting than the other.
If you are patient enough to wait on them to trust you, understand their love language, and try not to punish or mold them into loving you the way you want, you can witness a miracle.
How To Teach Them To Love Being Held
Even though cats do not love being held or kissed, they can certainly tolerate you when you show them affection. You cannot expect them to show you affection every time and in the way you want.
However, they can at least learn how to be more patient with you as much as you are with them. Is this deal good enough for you? Then read on to know how we can trick them into loving (tolerating) us more:
Make them accustomed to your touch
Never force a cat to stay with you. When it is in a relaxed state, call them in a calm and soothing voice. Next, invite them to come and sit on your lap.
If they don’t want to jump to your lap, just pet them with long strokes from their head to tail. Do this 3-4 times a day for over a minute.
Offer them treat for a positive reaction
If they have had a negative experience while being held before, then you need to swap it with a positive one. Make them sit on your lap gently. When they do sit on your lap, praise them, pet them, and give them a treat.
Allow them to jump back to the floor if they want. They will start to associate sitting on your lap with a positive experience.
Keep feeding their positive experiences gradually
Don’t overwhelm them with too much attention, touching, and treats. They might get confused. Just do it gradually enough so that they start tolerating being touched.
Within a month or so, your cat should be able to like it better. Incorporate a little bit of touch during their playtime as well.
Do not rush the process or punish them
Do not punish them when they want to get away from you. They might learn to tolerate you but sometimes, they don’t want to be picked. Respect their choice and leave them be for a while.
The more you give them freedom, the more they come meowing to you. Try not to force your love and affection on them. Be gentle, be caring, and most importantly, be respectful of their space.
Understanding Cat’s Love Language
Cats are not really obvious when it comes to showing affection. They either are all over you or cannot be bothered with your presence. How would you get an idea if they love you or not?
These are the signs that your cat loves you even though it might not be very obvious.
- They move around more when you are around. They would start playing with things; try to get your attention while not being very obvious.
When you are not around, they might not be motivated to play and would sit at one place, waiting for you. This is not true for all cats, but most of them behave this way.
- They show you their belly as a sign of trust and a sense of comfort with you.
- Their tail tells it all. They would curl their tail around you and in some way, they would swing their tail swiftly while touching you with it.
- You can hear deep purrs when they are around you or when you pet them.
- They get vocal and try to ‘talk’ to you with their constant meowing chatters.
- They try to lick you in the process of ‘grooming’ you.
- They paw on you and nibble on your hand to show affection. Do not punish them for that. If it hurts you, gently move your hand away.
You can also say ‘ow’, ‘ouch’ a little loudly to let them know that it hurts you. They generally keep that in mind and try to be gentler.
- They rub their cheeks on you and head-bunt you.
- They bring you gifts they ‘hunted’. It could range from a dead rat to a rattling bunch of leaves they found to be interesting.
Which breeds of cats are more affectionate? Scottish Fold, Tonkinese, Ragdolls, Sphynx, Siamese, Bombay, Burmese, and Kurilian Bobtail cats are known to be more affectionate. They love being social and being held. You can keep them in your lap all day and they will not complain.
Do cats feel love when they are kissed? Either cats love being held, will kiss you back in their way, or they wouldn’t at all. The answer would be very obvious to you if you try this with your cat. They can tolerate being kissed and take it as a sign of affection. But their reciprocation is dependent on their own persona.
Do cats have a favorite person? Yes, cats do have a favorite human. They mostly trust those who spend more time with them, play with them, and feed them. They grow a connection with them and would get anxious if they are not around. They are very picky – and if they choose you, you are lucky.
We have a 18 month old male, neutered cat. (His full name is Mr Sid Cuffuffle- Sid to his friends – no lie!)
A mother cat carries her kittens by the scruff of the neck, as the skin is very loose. I am wondering if it is ok to pick a full grown adult cat up by the scruff of the neck. Our cat is only a young adult, so is it ok for younger adults, is there some cut off point.
This post recommends holding a cat by the scruff of the neck, but I can imagine that there would be a difference between this and holding a cat up in the air by the scruff of the neck.
What are the facts about picking up or holding adults cats by the scruff of the neck?
Mr Sid Cuffuffle (aka Sid)
5 Answers 5
Of course, there is a huge difference. I’d never condone holding an 8 kg cat in the air by the scruff of the neck : always keep his back paws on ground, and as far as the answer linked in the question is concerned, release him as soon as he has swallowed his pill. And don’t use scruffing when not necessary.
That being said, having tried to pill my cat without scruffing him, I feel it’s much more comfortable for a cat to be scruffed during a few seconds than to be gently tortured during 5 minutes or more. That’s a fact. 😉
Now, no other facts, but experts advices (the bold weighting is from me) :
Traditionally, scruffing (grasping the cat by the scruff of the neck) has been considered an acceptable way to maintain control of a cat because it does not harm the cat if done properly, and it is effective in many cases. However, scruffing has become a controversial issue. Some cats react negatively to scruffing and actually fight harder instead of holding still. Also, some overweight cats have very little loose tissue to scruff, so the hold will be less effective.
In general, scruffing should be used only if minimal restraint techniques are not working. If scruffing seems necessary, try it for a few seconds. If the cat gets worse, discontinue and try something else. When scruffing a cat, use the minimum amount of force necessary and take care to avoid injuring the cat’s neck. A cat should not be lifted or suspended by the scruff because this is uncomfortable and may make the cat’s behavior worse.
(Joanna M. Bassert & John A. Thomas, Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians, 8th Edition, McCurnin’s 2013, ISBN 978-1437726800 — p.186.)
‘Scruffing’ is a general term for a variety of holds on the skin of the cat’s neck. Grasping the scruff of the neck varies from a gentle squeeze of skin, to grasping a larger fold of skin with varying amounts of pressure. Consideration of natural feline behavior can help put this technique into perspective. Cats grasp the scruff of the neck of other cats in only limited circumstances. During the first few weeks of life the mother cat may lift kittens by the scruff of the neck using her mouth. This is a method of transport and immobilization, and not a form of discipline. During mating, the tomcat grasps the scruff of the queen.
Some veterinarians and veterinary behaviorists do not use scruffing and do not condone its use. They find that using other gentle handling techniques is less stressful, more time efficient, provides greater safety for personnel, and allows the cat to have a sense of control. They prefer other methods to manage situations where feline welfare or personnel safety are at stake.
Other veterinarians handle cats gently and use scruffing only if it is necessary to protect the welfare of the cat or for the physical protection of personnel. Still others think that scruffing a cat is acceptable for short procedures, in an emergency, and to prevent the cat from escaping or injuring someone.
If you think this technique is the only alternative, carefully evaluate the cat for any signs of fear or anxiety. The cat may become immobile but may not be comfortable, or may become aggressive. Handle the cat as gently as possible and guard against using aggressive handling techniques out of anger or frustration. The panel does not condone lifting the cat or suspending its body weight with a scruffing technique because it is unnecessary and potentially painful.
(Ilona Rodan et al., AAFP and ISFM Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Volume 13, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 364-375, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfms.2011.03.012.)
Having a sense of control, even if it is not exerted, makes the cat more comfortable and reduces stress. Importantly, using the minimal amount of handling gives the cat a greater sense of control, so the cat is less likely to be aggressive.
Most of us have been taught to scruff cats, but scruffing often only increases a cat’s arousal and fear, because scruffing removes the cat’s sense of control. Many cats become fearfully aggressive when scruffed in an attempt to protect themselves. Some veterinarians, especially in Europe, find “clipnosis”¹ helpful for restraint. This procedure is also controversial, again because it removes the cat’s sense of control. In the author’s experience (at least 5 years without scruffing or clipnosis), cats are usually calmer and easier to handle if they are not scruffed.
(Ilona Rodan, Understanding Feline Behavior and Application for Appropriate Handling and Management, Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, Volume 25, Issue 4, November 2010, Pages 178-188, ISSN 1938-9736, http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.001.)
¹ IIUC, clipnosis consists in pinching the scruff of the neck with a clip in order to induce behavioral inhibition — hence the term “clipnosis”, deriving from “clip” and “hypnosis”.
BTW, thanks for asking, I didn’t thought about such behavioral implications.
by Paws on Your Heart on July 22, 2013
There is nothing better than holding a cat in your arms, or having a purring cat napping on your lap. However, there are cats out there that simply don’t enjoy being picked up or held. So what’s the deal with this cat behaviour?
A Lack of Socialization. Some cats never had the chance to be socialized with people when they were kittens. Socializing young cats with people is a very important step for building trust with our feline friends. If a cat was never around people when he was growing up, he will not be comfortable allowing a person to pick him up and carry him around.
Age. Older cats have frail bodies, and they may not enjoy being picked up or carried around due to their aging bodies. These cats might also be scared of being dropped or picked up wrong, which could cause them unnecessary pain and discomfort.
Not in the Mood. In some cases, a cat will be happy to be picked up by his owner or others, but if you catch him at the wrong time, he might not be so happy to be picked up. If your cat seems to be in a bad mood or he’d rather be left alone, don’t try to pick him up.
Don’t worry if your cat doesn’t like to be picked up or handled. The next best thing is to have him sitting beside you on the couch. Who knows, one day you might even be able to lure your cat onto your lap with treats.
Have you ever had a cat who didn’t like to be picked up? Were you able to help your kitty overcome this cat behaviour, or do you have any tips to help others with this cat behaviour? Let us know in the comments section below, we’d love to hear any feedback, tips, or stories.
My first family cat Bagheera never enjoyed being held. We always figured it was just too much crazy going on in the house with three little kids and she was never fully relaxed. As she got older she’d sit in a lap as long as the person had a blanket. Now my one year old Nimbus is much the same. She loves being close to me, and will even snuggle against my head on my pillow in bed, but is very selective in her cuddly moods. I just never got lucky with cuddly cats.
We adopted a cat that was feral. She loves being indoors , being with pur dogs and other cats. But doesn’t even get close to us unless it’s feeding time
That’s one thing I’m a bit saddened about.
I have a 4 – year old male cat that I’ve had for a couple months and although he’s a bit chatty sometimes and generally happy, he doesn’t enjoy being picked up.
He may flop beside me on the couch with this back pressed against me and let me rub his head or upper chest, but that’s about it. Once in awhile he may put one paw on my leg, so perhaps in time he’ll warm up.
He frowns when I pick him up and cradle him like a baby.
I’m going to start carrying kibble in my pocket – to reward him for leaning against me. That might work.
I do TNR and don’t have the heart to return a 4 year old lovely calico … that was allowed to have 5 litters! I have her now about a month. My heart is overflowing as she’s been adjusting here by leaps and bounds, but she’s a little bit of an enigma to me. She likes and reciprocates affection but plays hard to get and is “nervous” … certainly doesn’t like to be picked up or restrained. I felt her body turn rock hard with tension at the vet’s.
I’m just concerned about what I will do in the event she gets sick and needs to be pilled, etc … she will be very difficult to handle. My vet said “you’ll cross that time when you come to it”. Is there any training I can employ to get her to like being picked up?
Thanks for your comment, Paula. You have a wonderful heart to have taken in this very deserving Calico kitty. She sounds lovely. I’ll bet that by now you’re already noticing an improvement in her calmness and ability to be touched. Once street cats are put into a loving and supportive environment they just blossom. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could pick her up comfortably very soon.
If that doesn’t happen you can use “shaping” behaviour to get her to enjoy being picked up. This means that little by little you “shape” the behaviour that you’re looking for by offering positive reinforcement. In this case, you’d come up to her and pet her, then pick up just a paw then pet her again and/or offer a treat. That’s it. Shaping should never be rushed. Then, when she’s fully comfortable with that move you do the next behaviour towards picking her up, like lifting several paws, then lifting her only an inch off the floor, then higher and higher until you finally reach your goal. Remember to reinforce her positive reaction each time with a pet or a treat. Let us know how it turns out!
Little by little, start from simply petting them, to holding them on their sides, to lifting them a little bit, to finally being able to pick them up.В If the cat really fights you, try to make it quick and then give the cat space and peace to slowly rebuild the trust.
Some cats are very particular when it comes to being held вЂ“ let alone getting picked up.В However, there will be times where you will absolutely need to pick them up.В What do you do then?В Is there a safe way where you donвЂ™t have to sacrifice your extremities? YouвЂ™ll be glad to know that the answer is YES.В Read on to find out how.
Breeds like Ragdolls and Ragamuffins are known for being cuddle bugs вЂ“ they crave human attention so much, and are always open for some physical expressions of affection.В The same cannot be said for some cats though.
Before we even hope to pick up a cat who really doesnвЂ™t want to be picked up, we must first understand why they donвЂ™t want to be swept off their feet in the first place.
For one, getting picked up and held tight by an animal much bigger than yourself is honestly terrifying.В To add to that, cats really donвЂ™t like feeling restrained.В Cats are like water вЂ” if given the chance, theyвЂ™d prefer to escape. В If your cat was formerly a stray, then they would definitely appreciate freedom more than cuddles.В Another reason why your cat may be distressed when picked up is that it may be a trigger for a past trauma.В
If you donвЂ™t know the kind of life your cat led before you adopted them, they may have had a history of abuse, thus leaving them too fearful and distrusting to be picked up.В It is advised that you take your cat to a vet to see if there are any underlying medical reasons as to why your cat isnвЂ™t comfortable being picked up.
If it is not any of the above, your cat not liking being picked up could simply be because itвЂ™s unnatural to them.В Cats have a totally different language than us.В Picking up is as foreign to cats as them putting their bums towards our faces is to us.В Your cat may also eel a bit disrespected when picked up.В After all, cats are incredibly proud creatures.
Now, to answer the main question of this article, there is a way for you to pick up your cat in preparation for the times when you will actually need to pick them up.В The big secret is to help them tolerate being held.В Little by little, start from simply petting them, to holding them on their sides, to lifting them a little bit, to finally being able to pick them up.В DonвЂ™t forget to respect your catвЂ™s comfort at every stage.В Once theyвЂ™ve reached their limit, donвЂ™t push it.В Try again tomorrow.В Of course, praise and give them treats throughout this whole training.
But what if you need to pick up your cat RIGHT NOW?В You must do it carefully.В DonвЂ™t just pick them up from behind where they canвЂ™t see you.В You donвЂ™t want to startle your cat вЂ“ you want to keep on their good side the whole time.В If your cat is a grown cat, and not a tiny kitten, do not pick them up by the scruff of their neck as this can be potentially painful and dangerous for them.
Make sure your cat knows your intentions when you go for the pick-up.В Lift them up gently but securely.В You want them to feel fully supported.В When your cat struggles, contain the urge to hold them closer and tighter.В Remember, cats donвЂ™t like feeling restrained.В
DonвЂ™t carry your cat like a baby.В Keep your hand under their belly as youвЂ™re placing your cat against your chest.В Do not let their legs dangle вЂ“ help them feel secured.
When itвЂ™s time for you to let your cat go, they will probably try to run away, so make sure all of the doors and windows are closed.В Do give them their space to cool off, and try not to attempt any physical interaction before your cat is fully ready again.
What are the friendliest cat breeds?
Cat temperaments are often linked to their breeds.В If you want a cat who will surely enjoy your attention and affection, these are three of the many great breeds to look out for:
- Persian. В The quintessential lap cat.В They love to snuggle but are not so demanding of your attention.В They are very laidback little fur balls.
- Abyssinian.В Smart and active cats who are not typically lap cats, but they really enjoy human attention.В These cats are so smart; they may be training you more than youвЂ™re training them.
- В Ragdoll. TheyвЂ™re often called the puppy cats.В TheyвЂ™re absolute people pleasers.В TheyвЂ™ll play fetch, come when called, and even follow you from room to room.
What is cat squishing?
Cat squishing is a way to restrain a cat without them feeling uncomfortable and for you to keep safe вЂ“ great for when you need to give your cats their medicine.В Squish your cat down on a surface in a gentle but firm way.В Sounds weird, but this technique works well and doesnвЂ™t give your cat unnecessary stress.
Why do mama cats carry their kittens by the neck?
At the back of the kittenвЂ™s necks, they have a loose patch of skin.В This is their scruff. When cats are held by their scruff, their instinct is to become instantly submissive.В This is a way for mama cat to calm down their energetic kittens, or to transport them easily without much fuss. However, if you are not a cat yourself, itвЂ™s best not to carry cats or kittens by their scruffs.
The thing with cats is they value their personal space.В If you need to carry them around, just be sure to give them the respect that they need, to be aware of their comfort level, and to keep them secured.
Adopting a Cat That Has Had Its Front Paws Declawed
Even if you’ve seen images of countless wise mother cats picking their kittens up by the scruff, that doesn’t mean that you can do the same thing with the same exact results. When it comes to holding a kitty via the nape, mama — and only mama — knows best.
About the Scruff Hold
According to the San Francisco SPCA, holding a cat by the scruff entails softly but firmly picking her up by the thin skin behind her neck. Mother cats typically use this technique to hold their wee kittens, but using their mouths instead of their paws, of course.
Discomfort and Pain
The ASPCA urges cat owners to never pick their little ones up by the scruff, whether the pet is a tiny kitten or a full-grown adult. The Humane Society of Greenwood notes that mother cats exclusively are capable of doing this in the correct manner. If you decide to emulate the mother cat method, you may end up just causing your pet unnecessary pain and discomfort. Not good at all. The main effects of grabbing a cat by the scruff are just those — pain, discomfort and perhaps even some confusion.
If you try to pick your cat up by the scruff, you may notice her squirming frantically in an attempt to break loose — yikes.
Appropriate Holding Style
Instead of the classic scruff hold, the ASPCA recommends another safer and more comfortable style for picking up cats. This style involves putting one hand securely below the hind legs and the other directly in back of the front ones. When you first pick a cat up, always do so slowly and calmly. Make sure never to be abrupt, as you could risk startling the poor kitty.
You may notice that veterinarians occasionally adopt the “scruff” technique for grabbing cats of all ages — a throwback to their tender time as kittens. However, veterinarians are qualified professionals that undergo rigorous training in all matters regarding felines — including safe and comfortable lifting methods. The bottom line is — don’t try grabbing your cat by the scruff at home!
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
You’ve likely seen cats handled a variety of ways: lifted by the scruff of their necks, cradled like infants, grabbed around the middle by excited children.
And while every feline has different preferences on how it likes to be touched and held (believe it or not, some cats even like belly rubs), there’s a right way to pick up a cat, according to the ASPCA.
How to Pick up a Cat
First, keep in mind that not all cats like to be held, and even those that do enjoy a good snuggle may not want to be picked up all the time.
Before attempting to hold a cat, check out its body language. A kitty with a low tail and flattened ears isn’t asking to be cuddled.
Approach the cat slowly and let it sniff you so it can get used to your smell and presence.
If the cat seems receptive to being held, use one hand to grip the feline behind its front legs, resting the animal’s chest on that arm. With your other hand, gently scoop up the back legs, and lift with both hands, keeping the cat level. Then pull the cat in close so it touches your chest.
“The more points on a cat’s body that are touching your body, the more comfortable and relaxed your cat will be,” says Mikkel Becker, a cat training consultant.
Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck or by the front legs. Picking up a cat the wrong way can cause the animal discomfort or even injury.
Keep in mind that every cat is different so some may enjoy resting their paws on your shoulder (as pictured below) or being cradled on their back, but don’t try to force a feline into a position it’s not comfortable with. The kitty will likely make its discomfort known — and that will be uncomfortable for both of you.
You’ll know your kitty is happy when he relaxes or even purrs, so go ahead and keep hugging that cat. But when he gets agitated or starts squirming, let the animal down.
No Hugs Please
Just because you know how to properly handle a cat, doesn’t necessarily mean the kitty wants to be picked up and snuggled. Cats can become very anxious or frightened when they’re not in control and have a limited ability to escape, so don’t try to hold one against its will.
Some cats may feel unstable when they’re held, while others may associate being picked up with being taken to the vet.
Others may have been picked up — and dropped — by children in the past, so encourage kids to sit down and let the cat come to them instead of scooping up the cat.
It’s possible to help your kitty become more comfortable with being held by using rewards and positive reinforcement, but first make sure you understand what kind and how much affection your cat likes. There are right ways to pet a cat.
“Being held or stroked for too long can be very stressful for some cats,” said Nicky Trevorrow, behavior manager at Cats Protection. “Space and peace is often what they need.
As your cat gets more comfortable being petted, practice picking him up for short periods of time and reinforcing good behavior with a treat or playtime.
However, working with cat to help him feel more comfortable being handled doesn’t necessarily mean the animal will ever enjoy being picked up.
If your kitty doesn’t want to participate in Hug Your Cat Day, try creating your own feline-friendly holiday. Catnip Day or Tuna Day are sure to be a hit.
I recently adopted a cat from a shelter who does not seem to want to be picked up. She loves being petted on the head and scratched at the base of the tail but dislikes contact with the rest of her body. Even maneuvering my hands into position for picking her up will cause her to dodge out of the way. I don’t want to be too aggressive in my attempts because she would probably not be above giving a warning bite if mishandled.
Any suggestions on how I can accustom her to being picked up?
2 Answers 2
Some cats do not like being picked up and will not allow it ever. It may be that they had a bad experience early in their lives (someone picked them up and did not support them or did something bad to them), or it may be that they are just uncomfortable not having solid ground under their paws. So, first, accept that you may never be able to pick up your cat at will.
Also, keep in mind that if you just recently adopted her, she may not know you well enough to trust you yet, and she may naturally allow it once she trusts you more. In my experience, it generally takes 6-18 months for an adult cat to settle into a new home.
That said, sometimes you can ease into it.
First, find some kind of suitable reward that your cat loves. For some cats that’s a specific treat, for other cats petting and affection will work. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to establish a clicker training program.
Once you have a good reward system established, then just take it slowly step by step and reward your cat at every step.
If putting your hands in position to pick her up spooks her, try putting one hand in position. If she allows that, then give her the reward. Switch hands until she’s comfortable with either hand, then try both hands (again, rewarding her each time). Once she’s comfortable with both hands, don’t pick her up, just lift a small amount of weight off her paws and reward her for that. The goal is to take tiny, incremental steps that she’s comfortable with and give her lots of praise and rewards.
Each training session should be short (10-15 minutes). This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Once you’re able to pick her up, keep your hands soft and don’t restrain her. If she wants to leave, let her. You don’t want to wrestle with a cat to hold onto her, you want her to trust you enough to want to hang out with you. If she knows she can leave at any time, she will gradually learn to trust you more and not want to leave immediately.
This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as “Dr. B” to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited hospital and Boston’s first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.
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Picking up a cat may sound easy but there is actually a right way to do it, so that the cat is comfortable and does not get injured. Make sure the cat feels safe and comfortable in your presence before you attempt to pick it up. Some cats need a more “delicate” approach than others, especially cats that are frightened of humans or ones with medical conditions like arthritis. Once you have established a relationship with the cat, then it’s time to pick it up while supporting its body correctly.
Why Do Cats Have Retractable Claws?
Little kittens are balls of energy, stopping only when it’s time for a nap. However, there is one way to stop a rambunctious kitten in his tracks — grab his scruff. When held like this he’ll go instantly limp. It’s like hitting a kitty pause button.
What Is the Scruff?
Where his head connects to his neck, Kitty has a loose patch of skin called his scruff. When held by the scruff, he’ll become instantly submissive, thinking of whoever has hold of him as a dominant figure. Scruffing should be used sparingly; if you just want to hold your kitten for some cuddle time, pick him up by his middle with one hand and support his rear end with the other.
His mom will use his scruff to carry him around. It is his instinct to go limp when his mother carries him. This allows for safe transportation. If kitten was crying or wiggling, it could injure him or his mom. His mother cat also grab may him by the scruff to get him to stop doing an undesirable behavior, like nipping or biting. This allows mommy to assert her dominance. She’ll often groom the kitten after scruffing to calm him down.
Scruffing should not be used as a way to transport your kitten around the house, but can be used to reinforce dominance when training him. To scruff him properly, gently feel his neck for the loose skin on top. Firmly pinch the skin and kitten will go limp. You can ask Kitty’s vet to demonstrate for you. If Kitty squirms or yowls, release him immediately. This means you’ve hurt him and haven’t gotten the scruff. Once he’s a little bigger, you should never grab him by his scruff. While scruffing does assert dominance, and you’ve probably witnessed one cat bite another cat’s scruff, it isn’t a safe way to pick him up. His body weight won’t be supported and it could lead to pain or serious injury.
Training your kitty is notoriously tricky. Scruff training mimics how his mother would train him. Reserve scruff training for only the most bothersome behaviors, like aggression towards people or other pets, or if he’s being destructive. Begin by scruffing kitty and pressing him firmly on the ground. Give him a firm “no” or loud hiss and release him. After letting go, pet him and tell him he’s a good kitty. This imitates how his mother grabs him, then comforts him with some grooming. Remember, firm is not the same as rough. You want to make sure you have a good grip while being calm and assertive, but don’t use too much force. This not only will scare Kitty, but could hurt him and cause him to avoid you altogether.
What Effect Does Grabbing a Cat by Its Scruff Have? →
Keep My Kittens From Nursing on Each Other →
Updated Oct 9, 2012
Whether it is for petting, grooming, nail trims or veterinary exams, some cats become stressed when they are being handled and restrained. Your cat may demonstrate his dislike for the physical interaction by trying to wiggle or squirm out of your arms. He may meow or growl as you are holding him, and the most obvious sign your cat is displeased will be his tail flicking back and forth as you handle him.
Your cat may not enjoy being held, or having the veterinarian examine him, but this is a necessary part of being a cat. It is our job to ensure he is trained to tolerate, if not enjoy, these experiences.
Start your first training session when your cat is relaxed. Invite him up on your lap and begin to pet him in long strokes down his body, scratch his ears, and allow him to rub his face in against your hand. Be sure to include other parts of his body such as his tail, legs, and stomach. Always use long strokes, and a soothing voice. Practice this step three to four times per day for thirty seconds. After your cat demonstrates he is comfortable with having his body petted you are ready to move to the next step.
Pick up your cat and place him in your lap. Have your hands around his shoulders while he sits in your lap for five to ten seconds. Offer him a special treat and allow him to jump back on the floor. If your cat is comfortable with this step and can sit in your lap for brief periods, begin picking up his foot, letting go of the foot and offering him a treat. Repeat this step as you touch his mouth/treat, touch his tail/treat, rub his belly/treat. You want to work in small increments several times per day to increase his tolerance for sitting patiently in your lap as well as having different parts of his body handled. The goal is to keep him within his threshold for tolerating the handling. Do not try to do too much, too soon where he is overwhelmed and attempts to get away.
Incorporate these handling exercises into playtime with your cat. Encourage him to chase one of his toys on a string for several seconds. Take a brief pause, handle his feet and begin playing again. The goal is always touch/treat, or touch/play as we build our cat’s tolerance level for handling and restraint. If you find yourself in a situation where you cat is becoming stressed, take a break and resume at a later time.
Practice makes perfect here, so when your cat is comfortable with you holding him, begin to invite others to practice the same steps. Before you know it, your cat will be able to tolerate being held even at the vet’s office.
If you’ve got a feline friend in the house odds are you’ve attempted to pick her up at least a few times in your life. You might have one of those cats that absolutely loves it, my cat Lexi doesn’t seem to mind it one bit. You can rock her like a baby and lip her upside down and she just rolls with it. When she wants down she’ll let you know by starting to push against you, but for the most part she’s pretty accepting.
On the other hand you might have a cat like my cat Beast as well. She tenses up immediately the second your hand hovers over her neck for more than a second and will bolt if possible. Even though I use the vet recommended method of sliding one hand under her chest and one under her hind to hold her up she still is wound up like a spring the entire time you hold her. You can tell she is not happy about the situation and wants out as soon as possible.
So why is that Lexi loves being picked up and Beast is absolutely horrified of it? Why do some cats not like to be held? Let’s look at a few potential reasons why this might happen and then point you to some resources to try to change this behavior.
You Don’t Know What They Know
Lexi and Beast are both adopted and both were several years old when adopted. Unfortunately the shelters really didn’t know much about them so they didn’t have anything to share other than Beast came from a hoarding situation and was mostly locked in a room on her own her entire first two years of her life. Beast is a little socially awkward if you can imagine, but she’s a total sweetheart! If you’ve adopted a cat you’ve probably heard similar stories or even far worse ones, but unfortunately without know the whole past of your cat it is difficult to determine if it was some experience that caused this or if it is just their personality.
That being said, one of the most likely reasons your cat doesn’t like being picked up is that she may have had a negative experience while being held in the past. Perhaps she was dropped as a kitten a few times, or someone pulled on her ears and her tail, who really knows? All it takes is one nasty experience to make it a very uncomfortable experience for them.
On the same token it could come from an experience we might not register as traumatic as humans, but your cat might. Key examples are visits to the vet and the groomer. Your cat is typically restrained in these situations and often has a negative experience (you probably didn’t like a thermometer up your butt as a kid either). It is pretty easy to see how a cat might start to see being picked up for one of these activities and being picked up in general as negative things.
It is simply scary for your cat
You’ve probably never seen a cat pick another cat up if both cats are adults. The only time you see this happen is with a mother moving her kittens from place to place and the kittens biologically know to go limp when mom picks them up.
Adult cats on the other hand tend to very slowly approach one another and if they are both friendly you might see some sniffing at an initial introduction. We humans on the other hand are not only much much larger than our feline friends (even you Maine Coon owners) but we often go straight to picking them up.
Imagine yourself in a situation where someone 10 or more times your size showed up and simply picked you up and rubbed the hair on your head when they ran across you. You might freak out too! They could easily crush you on accident or on purpose if they had any inclination.
A potential sickness or injury is afoot!
If your cat used to like being picked up but bolts every time you attempt to get near her then two things are possible. We’ve already discussed a bad experience, but if you can rule that out then your cat might be sick or have an injury.
At this point it is probably worth setting some time aside with your vet to check for injuries or medical conditions that could be causing pain when you pick your cat up. Even after the condition is treated it’s possible that your cat will still avoid being picked up because they might associate the feeling with the pain they experienced in the past.
Nowhere to Run
Similar to my article regarding cat carriers and why cats often don’t like them, being picked up is a form of being restrained. Even if it isn’t true every time a cat is picked up, cats don’t have a hard time drawing the conclusion that restraint means the humans are going to do something I don’t like: clip my nails, bathe me, take my temperature, stick me in the carrier, etc.
Knowing How to Pick a Cat Up
If you’re not sure how to pick a cat up then you should definitely learn the appropriate way. You should not be scruffing your cat, it is far too easy to permanently injure your cat if you’re not properly trained on how to do this. Instead you should focus on the standard two point pick up method. Check out this video below from VetStreet to ensure you’re pick up your cat in a safe manner!
Wrapping It Up:
At the end of the day, answering the question why do some cats not like to be held up is pretty tough unless you’ve known your cat since they were a kitten. Even then it might not be easy to identify the specific reason as it could be their personality or it could be driven by some experience they had when you weren’t home. Your cat might also simply be scared of being picked up because of your size or because they know being picked up sometimes results in a trip to the vet or the groomer.
This article isn’t aimed at modifying this particular behavior and I would encourage you to simply respect your cat’s preferences as much as you can. I know we all get the desire to pick our cats up from time to time and just can’t resist. If you are interested in getting your cat to enjoy being picked up you can check out this article, but my experience has been mixed with it being effective.
A cat’s meow can hold several secrets in it, and identifying them becomes difficult for new cat owners. While cats love the affection of their owners, many of the owners get concerned about their cats getting uncomfortable and meowing when they hold them. It happens to many, making them think, ‘’why does my cat meow when I pick her up or pet her?’’
The most common reason is sickness or pain, which causes discomfort when you pick the cat and results in a change of behavior. Sometimes, cats meow when they’ve missed you while being away. Also, they meow to show their discomfort because you’re not holding them the right way.
As there are several reasons associated with a cat’s meow when you pick it up or pet it, let’s discuss everything in detail.
Why Does My Cat Meow When I Pick Her Up?
As several reasons are associated with this behavior, we will discuss all of them to help you determine the cause behind your cat’s meow when you hold it or even simply pet it.
1. Pain or sickness
When cats are in pain or ill, we often notice a drastic change in their behavior. They become not only lazy and try to hide but also become uncomfortable and touchy.
So, meowing loudly than usual when being picked up can be a sign of an underlying medical issue or an injury. Sometimes, this meow is also followed by hissing and growling.
A sudden change in your cat’s meow will surely be an indication of an underlying medical issue or injury.
Although cats can tolerate pain to a much greater extent, meowing due to sickness can indicate that your cat has a severe health issue, and neglecting it may risk your furry friend’s life. As illness can make them uncomfortable, they won’t like anyone’s attention, and the owners picking them up might piss them off. Consult with a vet if you suspect your cat is in pain.
2. You’re not bonded well
What happens when you meet a pet for the first time?
Well, if it’s a dog, it will definitely get afraid and bite you. In the case of cats, you can expect a meow. So, if you recently bought a new cat in your house and it meows as soon as you pick her up, it may be because both of you aren’t familiar and the cat is afraid to come into your hands.
The cat will feel frightened when you try to hold it or pet it, and it may meow to show discomfort. If that’s the case with you, it’s better to give it time to bond with you. Once done, it will no longer meow in your hands.
3. You’re not holding it the right way
As cats are fragile with soft bones, picking them the wrong way will make them uncomfortable. That is often the most common reason behind a cat’s meow when being picked up.
Children and new owners don’t know how to make a cat comfortable while holding it. Holding the cat too tight may suffocate it or even break the bones. As you’re making your cat suffer this way, it will look at you as an enemy rather than a friend, which will become a barrier between your bonding.
If you’re not used to picking up cats in your hands, a better idea is to learn it and be gentle when holding it.
4. Stress or anxiety
Like humans, cats can get stressed out, either by the introduction of a new pet in the family or due to separation anxiety.
They will also look gloomy in this state and express short meows whenever you pick them up or try to show them affection. Some medical illnesses are also a sign of stress, linked to meowing on being picked up.
5. Your cat enjoys it
Sometimes, the meowing of a cat is nothing to get worried about!
Cats love their owner’s attention, and meowing whenever you pick them up often means that they’re enjoying your company. In such a case, this meow is to express their joy.
You might also notice your cat meowing when you pick her up after getting home from work or being away for days. So, it’s nothing to worry about!
6. Your cat is busy
Imagine that you have something very important to do, but on your way there somebody stops you and tries to distract you from what you were doing. You wouldn’t like it much I bet. Your cat feels exactly the same way when it wanted to do something important, like to smell other cats or catch a butterfly, but here you are lifting it and holding it. Your cat might just want to carry on doing its business. It will come hug when all the cat errands are tended to.
7. Your cat is in heat
Cats in heat tend to behave differently from how they usually do, so there is nothing to worry about. Your cat has different things in mind rather than spending time with you. Once this period is over, your cat’s behavior will get back to normal.
8. Unpleasant Scent
Have you used any perfume today? Or maybe got a new body spray or hand creme? While humans typically like when fellow humans smell nice, your cat might just be not that much into it. They have a much better sense of smell, and something might be irritating them causing them to meow when you are in close contact with them.
9. Independent Cat
Remember that cats are not dogs, they have a different temperament, usually a pretty independent one. Some cats simply don’t enjoy it when you try to pet them when they didn’t ask for it. The same goes for picking them up. There is a chance your cat doesn’t appreciate the intrusion of her privacy, and she will show it by meowing.
I had a cat like that. She was not to be touched under any circumstances unless she is the one that comes up to you and asks for attention. Take some time to learn your cat’s personality, maybe your cat is just like mine.
Is This Behavior Normal?
Whether this behavior is normal or not depends on the condition. If your cat suddenly starts meowing when being picked up and tries to get away, it is definitely a matter of concern. A longer and high-pitched meow often indicates a health issue and is not normal behavior.
But, some cats have a habit of meowing when you pick them up. They do it out of love. So, short and low-pitched meows are normal in most cats.
While some cats meow on picking them, and this behavior is normal, a sudden shift towards high-pitched meows can become worrisome. If you notice a change in your cat’s meow or it suddenly starts meowing on being picked up, it’s time for a visit to the vet.
But, you shouldn’t worry if your cat meows often to show its affection.
My name is Katie, and I have had different pets at home for as long as I can remember. While I can definitely say I love all animals in general, my heart belongs to cats and dogs. I know you are supposed to choose one or the other, but I could never really decide. I’ve also owned hamsters and fish when I was a kid, and they filled my childhood with very delightful memories.
Question: Kitten Doesn’t Like Being Picked Up?
I recently rescued a beautiful black kitten. He’s a little shy, but getting better. However he will not let anyone pick him up. What can we do as this will make it difficult for vet visits, etc.?
Talk to your vet. My friend just went through this and her vet suggested a very mild sedative administered orally 1/2 to 3/4 hour before the vet visit. The tech would then hold Kitty in a soft towel during the exam and all was good. Kitty has had several successful visits with this method. As she gets older, you could try it without the meds and see if she outgrew the fear. Good luck.
I had this problem with feral cat. A lot of cats just do not like to be picked up. I am not sure why but it is very common. What worked for me was to just pick the kitten up and hold him and love on him. I would hold him until he started to squirm (about 10 seconds to start).
some cats will never like close contact or being picked up, but the fact that he is getting better at it means that he will most likely improve, especially as his confidence and security improves.
you can train a cat to like certain people better, and all people generally, by having them feed the cat. Ifyour cat is really skittish you can provide food while the person you want the cat to like stands behind a screen door where the cat wont necesarily see the person but will smell the person and then come to associate good things (IE food) with that person
you can have every time a stranger comes into the house offer a treat so the cat can begin to associate good things (IE food) with people in general
you should also put up shelving or tall furniture – cats love being higher than everyone, which maeks them more confident and less skittish.
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Question: Kittens Do Not Like to Be Picked Up?
I have two seal point Siamese boys. I picked them up from a breeder at 8 weeks old. I tried picking them up right from the start, but was received with hissing and cowering. Now at 12 weeks old I can only pet them while they’re eating or while I’m playing with them with one of their toys.
Cats are finicky creatures. Most of the time they’re cute, sleepy, and playful. But other times, they’re on the hunt and make it quite obvious that they do not want to be messed with.
Although we may think it’s cute to play with our cats and pick them up every chance we get, there are some things that we just love doing with them (and to them!) that they just don’t enjoy.
Here are seven things you might be doing that your cat secretly hates.
Your cat secretly hates being held like a baby.
Some cats like to lay in your lap, or to be picked up and cuddled when you come home from work, but one thing cats hate is to be held like a baby.
Being picked up makes cats feel insecure and eager to return to the floor, according to Healthy Pets. When they’re held like a baby, it makes matters even worse than when they’re held with good support. While it might be cute, it’s really not their favorite thing.
If you’re not willing to give it up, at least only hold them up for a few seconds, rather than a lengthier period of time that will likely make them even more stressed.
Your cat secretly hates having their picture taken constantly.
You might like to take photos of your cat , but what you might not realize is that your cat might now want your phone in their face 24/7. The camera’s flash can be jarring for them. Too, it’s particularly cruel to lure them with a toy or treat, get the photo you want, and then leave them be.
Reader’s Digest suggests that ” a little play time is the least we can do” in return for their photo-op participation.
Your cat secretly hates eye contact.
Cats communicate with their eyes. For them, eye contact is a means of establishing dominance ; if you avert your eyes first, your cat will think they’ve got the power, but if you keep eye contact for too long, it’s seen as aggressive behavior and they may prepare to pounce or “ hunt ” you, according to Feline Forever.
If they blink or wink, it’s a sign good sign — a sign of affection, indicating that they do not feel threatened .
Your cat secretly hates when you meow at them.
Cats meow solely to communicate with humans, not with each other, but they don’t expect us to do it back. According to National Geographic, cats “ vocalize to get our attention .” Whether it’s a need for food, water, fresh litter, to play, or even for cuddles, there’s a variety of meows they’ll use just to get our attention.
According to Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and the SPCA, when we meow back and forth with our cats, “ It’s really just a bonding experience. ” He goes on to say that while it’s typically a positive interaction, they don’t know the specifics of what we may be asking of them, or what we’re trying to relay to them.
Your cat not-so-secretly hates when you dress them up.
If the squirming and fighting back against you as you try to put them in clothing didn’t give it away, this statement will: most cats don’t like to play dress up.
According to Wide Open Pets , cats don’t like having something against their fur , mostly because they don’t need it, but also because it’s uncomfortable and restrictive . If your cat doesn’t mind being put in sweaters and hats, or you simply must dress them up for some reason, be sure that they can still move around comfortably and use the bathroom.
To be safe, skip trying to put your cat in cute little outfits because they secretly hates it.
Published: Jul 20, 2017 · Modified: Mar 7, 2022 by Jenny
Why Ragdoll Cats Go Limp
Every now and then on Ragdoll cat forums a concerned new owner of a Ragdoll kitten writes in with a question—“What if my Ragdoll kitten does NOT go limp when I pick them up?” This might be followed by a description of how the kitten is otherwise fine, but the owner is unsure what to think because, after all, Ragdolls are known as the “floppy” cats for a reason.
This is where stereotypes of certain breeds can be a bit oversold. The reality is that not all Ragdolls are equally floppy. Some do not flop at all, some will go limp the entire time you are holding them, and others only exhibit that floppiness when they are sleeping or doing some other activity that doesn’t involve humans.
That said, they’ve earned their name for a reason. They were originally bred for the quality of going limp in someone’s arms when they are picked up—just like a cloth doll. Even if this particular trait might not be true for every Ragdoll, it does speak to their general personality. Ragdolls tend to be very friendly and particularly affectionate towards their owners, which makes a Ragdoll a great pet for a family.
Here are a few basic facts that you can count on with most Ragdolls:
What is the Ragdoll cat size and appearance?
A fully-grown female Ragdoll cat (usually between three and four years old) can weigh between 10-15 lbs. A fully grown male can weigh between 15-20 lbs. Ragdoll colors include seal, chocolate, lilac, blue, and cream, and they can come in a variety of patterns, including mitted, bi-color, and solid pointed. They are also known for their semi-long, silky coats, as well as their bright blue eyes.
What is the Ragdoll cat personality?
As stated above, Ragdolls tend to be a particularly friendly breed. They are docile and social, and often love to follow their owners around the house. They do well as an indoor breed, since they are so docile that some do not know how to defend themselves outdoors.
Where can I find a Ragdoll cat for sale?
You can get a ragdoll cat through a breeder, a rescue organization, or through some websites such as Craigslist or Petfinder. Try to visit a place before adopting a cat from them, and be sure to vet a breeder or cattery ahead of time to find out more about their conditions.
There are quite a few myths out there about Ragdoll cats—that Ragdoll cats are hypoallergenic, that they don’t feel pain, that they aren’t intelligent. As with any breed, it’s good to take these blanket statements with a grain of salt—some are only half-truths, some are outright myths, and most often it just comes down to the personalities of individual cats. If you do want your cat to be more relaxed in your arms, consider training him or her using treats or playtime rewards until they are inclined to stay in your arms for longer. But again, this depends on their individual personalities, so you might have to just wait and see how they develop.
For more Ragdoll owner insights on the floppy nature of Ragdolls, check out our post “Ragdoll Cats or the Floppy Cat: Are All Ragdoll Cats Floppy?”.
Does your Ragdoll cat go limp when you pick them up? Were they always like that? Do they go limp in other situations? Share here!
Mary Campagna Findley
February 04, 2019 at 8:54 pm
I’d like to post a picture of Leo Tolstoy, our 4 month old Russian blue mix whom we adopted a month or so ago from a feral colony. He has no resemblance to a Ragdoll except that he goes soft and cuddly when turned on his back.
February 06, 2019 at 4:42 pm
you’re welcome to do so on our Facebook page – but I’m the only one who can post photos to the site (for security reasons)
Suzanna Alex Naylor
June 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
We adopted two brother kittens, one was short haired, the other long, and from the beginning, they were best friends.. and one was much more interested in us humans.. the fluffier one.
After researching ragdoll behavior, and by his Bengal / tabby coloured coat, I am certain we are the lucky owners of a ragdoll cross, as Jim is the limpest cat weve ever had when he is picked up, and behaves as if he is ion love with all the family. He is very vocal, and a major flirt.
July 20, 2017 at 4:31 pm
Well, since my Charlie does not like to be picked up, he of course, does not go limp when I pick him up. But I do consider him “floppy” because he “flops” down on the floor often near me and lays on his back with back feet up in the air and front ones turned under. I think it is an attention grabber because he will do it right at my feet or in front of my husband and I in front of the television while we are watching it. I call it doing the “Flop”! I love it cause he looks so cute!
July 20, 2017 at 11:14 pm
July 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm
Great post, Jenny! Thank you so much for clarifying the whole “limp” topic. Miss PSB has never gone fully limp in our arms (and we used to think we had the only Ragdoll in the world that didn’t act like a Ragdoll when we picked her up. but it didn’t bother us cuz we lurve her so much!). She’s certainly relaxed and calm when we pick her up now. Of course, as a younger kitty she would get so impatient being held unless you were showing her something up high on the wall where she normally can’t reach. She would wiggle and squirm to be let down almost immediately in those days. Now, at almost 5 years old, she’s very content to be picked up and held and walked around and danced with and cuddled with. It’s because she totally trusts us and her laid back adult purrsonality is here. 🙂
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Cats and humans have many things in common. For instance, we both love to express affection through touch. But cats, unlike humans, have more touch receptors on their skin, thus are more sensitive. They are also independent and remarkably particular about when to be pet, where to be pet, and how many times they like to be pet. One could say they have different moods, and they will let you pet them as the mood dictates. It is one of those things that make cats a favorite for many.
If you are planning to adopt a kitten from a rescue home, we can help you to learn how to tell her mood, approach her in the right way, and ask for consent. We’ll also help you learn how to read cats’ body language so you can tell when to pick her up, or if she would like to be pet.
Understanding her body language
Since we cannot speak ‘cat’, the parent should know what to look out for, understand what it could mean, and respond correctly to the body language.
Many people are familiar with the startled cat look thanks to Tom and Jerry. But cats have many other gestures which they use to communicate to their species and beyond.
Catvills explain that some gestures are subtle, like a slight movement of their whiskers, or turning away her head. Others are obvious, like when she rubs her entire back against you, or the startled cat look. Either way, by understanding her body language, you stand a better chance of knowing when to pet her or pick her up.
Her genes and upbringing matter
Breeds such as the Bengal cats just don’t like being picked up . But they love playing and would cuddle up next to you after a tiring session. Other cats, especially kittens from rescue homes, don’t like being pet or being picked up because they may have mental trauma from their previous parents. Rescue centers often take cats from bad caregivers. It’s not a surprise that such cats associate being pet with bad experiences.
If you have a Bengal, or your cat associates petting with bad experiences, her body language will let you know. So you must start by seeking consent.
Seeking consent is an art
Cats are sophisticated and very particular. If you want to pet her, it has to be under her terms. She should be in the mood, and you must wait until she gives you a nod.
To ask for consent, slowly extend the back of your hand towards her while facing away. As the hand approaches her face and neck, look out for the following gestures that say “No,” or “I don’t feel like being pet!”
- A yawn
- Turning her head away in a disinterested manner.
- Licking her lips and turning her attention to something else.
- If she starts to groom or do another activity ignoring your offer.
However, you could proceed and gently begin to pet her if she shows these signs:
- If she leans into the back of your hand.
- If she gives you a “why?” look when you stop rubbing her neck.
What if you want to pick her, change position, and continue petting her while she’s in your arms? Look for signs that it’s okay to pick her up.
Picking her up is up to her
Like petting, the best time to pick up a cat is when she wants you to. Her body language will let you know if she’s in the mood. Look out for these gestures:
- A cuddly rub.
- A playful tail.
These signs tell you that she’s happy and wouldn’t mind being picked up. So you can go ahead.
On the other hand, if you hear a disgruntled sound, or feel her squirm when she’s in your arms, let her go. If she’s scared or in a tense mood, don’t pick her up. Cats are independent and still retain some of their wild instincts. Being picked up is not one of their favorite activities.
Reading the signs wrong, and when to stop
Sometimes she may give signs that seem to say it is okay to pet. But when you do it, it turns out that you were wrong. For example, when she playfully rolls on her back, showing that she trusts you, and you pet her tummy. She could lash out at you because many cats don’t like being rubbed on their tummies. But some seem to enjoy it. The key is knowing how to seek consent and doing it with finesse.
Your cat will generally let you know when to stop petting, or when to put her down. She could walk away, or try to leap off from your arms. If she’s from a rescue home, she could take a little longer to learn that petting feels awesome. Don’t give up on her. Follow these steps and pet her briefly. Then give her a treat so that she associates petting with nice things.
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I can hear you now, “My Ragdoll Cat is not affectionate!!”
You didn’t get a Ragdoll Cat so that it would sit on the other side of the room and stare at you…? Am I right?
I have had a number of ragdolls, and I would say they are generally more affectionate than most other breeds I have had, but they are still cats. And that means they do whatever the f*ck they want. (sorry, but it’s true)
My Ragdolls and their “Affection” levels
Just so you know where I am coming from I have two ragdolls. Grandma Cat who is 23 and Maya who is 13.
This is what they call cuddling. Especially grandma cat. She loves to be right next to me but not actually touching. Unless she is picking my skin or he’d butting me.
Maya will actually get a little closer but neither of them are really “lap cats”. They don’t mind being picked up but are less inclined to actually cuddle.
That being said Maya will always follow me to the bathroom and grandma cat sleeps by my pillow at night.
Maya will also generally join me for any conversation I’m having with someone in the foyer and likes to interrupt my work.
How do I teach them to be more affectionate?
There are a couple of things you can do to help bridge the trust gap between you and your cat.
- Be really affectionate during feeding times. Help them see you are trustworthy.
- It is important that during happy times that you associate touch and petting. Contrary to popular belief cats are trainable and if you spend the time with them you can adjust behaviour.
- Use catnip. Yup, it works.
- Use treats. This gets them to engage with you and continue to trust you.
Let’s talk about your environment
Cats are very aware of what is going on around them and they will behave based on their environment. They especially don’t like change, and will often display various naughty behaviours when things change too much. Consistency is the best thing, and it is the same with the affection that you give them. Sometimes you need to initiate.
Try to keep everything consistent, time of their meals, place of their meals, place of their litter, and condition of their litter.
One of the other things that I have found that really works is to figure out what treats they like and then interact with them around the treat. Maya, my 13-year-old loves cheese. Strangely enough, she loves shoestring cheese them most. I can’t even get it out of the fridge without her yelling at me for some. So I use that to get her attention and then cuddle her. She is usually a lot more receptive to that.
Always offering good food, clean water, fun toys to play with and a litterbox that is cleaned regularly. Again consistency and a happy environment will help your cat.
It might seem to be counter-intuitive but spending more time engaging with your cat will start to break down any barriers that might be there.
You also don’t want to force it. It just may take some time.
Cats Really do have a Mind of their Own.
All of that said it is best if you remember that a cat is a cat and they are notorious for just doing whatever they want.
It’s always funny to me how cats will also seek out the person in the room that wants to cuddle the least and cuddle with them. Ha.
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