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How do cats prefer to be picked up?

Do you find yourself struggling to pick up your furry feline friend without getting scratched or bitten? Have you ever wondered how cats prefer to be handled and lifted? Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll explore the question: how do cats prefer to be picked up?

Cats are known for their independent nature and can be quite particular about physical contact. However, there are times when we need to handle our cats, like during grooming or vet visits. Knowing how to properly lift and hold your cat is crucial for their safety and comfort, as well as your own.

In this article, we’ll examine various techniques for picking up cats based on their body language and personality. We’ll also discuss the best areas to lift them from and which ones to avoid. By the end of this post, you’ll have all the knowledge and techniques necessary to safely pick up your cat without any scratches or frustration.

So let’s dive in and learn how to handle our feline friends with ease. Say goodbye to struggling with lifting your cat and hello to a more pleasant interaction with your furry companion.

What to Consider Before Picking Up a Cat

Picking up a cat is not as simple as it may seem. To ensure their safety and comfort, there are several factors to consider before doing so. As an expert on this topic, I have compiled a list of things to keep in mind when picking up your furry friend.

Personality and temperament are key factors to consider before picking up a cat. Some cats are more outgoing and friendly, while others may be shy or anxious. If your cat falls into the latter category, approach them slowly and calmly, allowing them to become comfortable with your presence.

Age and physical condition are also important factors to consider. Elderly cats or those with mobility issues may not be able to tolerate being lifted or held for extended periods. Be gentle and mindful of their body, supporting them properly, to avoid causing any discomfort or injury.

The environment in which you pick up your cat should be safe and secure. Cats can become stressed or anxious if they feel trapped or confined, so allow them a clear escape route if they become uncomfortable. It’s best to pick up your cat in a quiet, calm setting away from any distractions or loud noises.

Using proper technique when picking up a cat is essential to their safety and comfort. Avoid lifting them by their front legs or tail, as this can cause discomfort or injury. Instead, place one hand under their chest and the other hand supporting their hindquarters.

Lastly, it’s important to pay attention to your cat’s body language. Signs of stress or discomfort include flattened ears, a lowered head, dilated pupils, and a tense body posture. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to avoid picking them up and let them approach you on their terms.

In conclusion, by considering these factors before picking up a cat, you can ensure a safe and comfortable experience for both you and your feline friend.

The Scruffing Technique

This method involves holding a cat by the scruff of their neck and is often used by veterinarians or animal handlers during procedures or examinations. However, it’s crucial to note that this technique should ONLY be used by professionals as it can cause pain and discomfort if done incorrectly.

When it comes to regular handling, the Scruffing Technique is not recommended as cats prefer to feel secure and supported when being picked up. Holding them by the scruff of their neck doesn’t provide this feeling and can even trigger their natural instinct to feel threatened, causing them to become defensive or aggressive.

So, what’s the best way to pick up your cat for regular handling? It’s simple – place one hand under their chest and the other hand supporting their hind legs. This technique allows the cat to feel safe and secure, and you can easily lift them without causing any harm or discomfort.

But wait, there’s more. Each cat has their own preferences for being picked up. Some cats may prefer to be lifted with both hands under their chest, while others may prefer to be picked up from underneath their armpits. Therefore, it’s essential to observe your cat’s body language and adjust your handling technique accordingly.

The Football Hold

This popular method, recommended by veterinarians, provides both you and your feline friend with a secure and comfortable experience.

The Football Hold involves supporting your cat’s chest with one arm and their hindquarters with the other, much like how a football is held. This technique allows your cat to maintain their natural body position, which is important for their physical well-being. It also provides them with a sense of balance and security, reducing their anxiety and stress.

To properly execute the Football Hold, approach your cat slowly and calmly. Let them sniff your hand and get comfortable with your presence before attempting to lift them. Always fully support their weight and avoid squeezing or putting pressure on any part of their body. Remember to keep their head facing away from you.

While the Football Hold is generally preferred by cats, it’s important to note that each feline may have their own unique preferences when it comes to handling. Pay attention to their body language and adjust your approach accordingly.

Avoid Picking Up by Limbs or Tail

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However, it’s important to remember that cats are delicate creatures with fragile bodies. Therefore, it is essential to avoid picking them up by their limbs or tail, which can cause serious injury.

Cats have delicate bones and joints in their limbs that can easily become dislocated or broken if handled improperly. Similarly, their tails are an extension of their spine and contain many sensitive nerves and muscles essential for balance and coordination. As such, using a cat’s tail for lifting can cause serious harm.

To ensure a safe interaction with your cat, it’s critical to always support its body weight from underneath. You should place one hand under the chest and the other hand under the hind legs to lift the cat off the ground. This technique ensures that your cat’s body weight is evenly distributed, reducing the risk of injury to its limbs or tail.

It’s equally important to note that not all cats enjoy being picked up and held. Some may feel uncomfortable or threatened when lifted off the ground, especially if they’re not used to being handled this way. It’s best to approach your cat slowly and calmly, allowing it to sniff your hand before attempting to pick it up.

If your cat seems agitated or resistant, don’t force it. Instead, try again later when it’s in a more relaxed state. Remember that respecting your cat’s boundaries is crucial for building trust and maintaining a healthy relationship.

Benefits of Proper Handling

That’s why it’s essential to use proper handling techniques to ensure their safety and comfort.

So, what are the benefits of proper handling techniques for cats? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Avoiding injury: Cats can become defensive when they feel uncomfortable or threatened. Improper handling can lead to scratches, bites, and even serious injuries for both the cat and human. To prevent any potential harm, it’s crucial to use proper techniques, such as supporting their body weight from underneath and avoiding picking them up by their limbs or tail.
  • Building trust: Like any relationship, trust is essential between cats and humans. When cats are handled correctly, they feel more comfortable and secure with their owner, leading to a stronger bond. By using proper techniques and paying attention to your cat’s signals and body language, you can build trust and create a positive experience for both you and your feline friend.
  • Promoting a positive experience: Every cat has their own preferences for being held, so it’s essential to be patient and understand your kitty’s unique personality. By using proper techniques that align with your cat’s preferences, you can create a safe and comfortable environment for both yourself and your feline friend. This positive experience will make your cat more willing to seek out physical affection from you in the future.

Tips for New Cat Owners

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Approach with Care

Cats are sensitive creatures, so it’s important to approach them slowly and gently. Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises that may startle your cat. Let them sniff your hand before attempting to pick them up – this will help them feel more at ease with you.

Use Both Hands for Support

When lifting your cat, use both hands to support their entire body. Place one hand under their chest and the other under their hindquarters. This will provide them with the necessary support and help them feel secure.

Pay Attention to Body Language

While holding your cat, pay close attention to their body language. Signs that they may be uncomfortable include flattened ears, dilated pupils, and attempts to escape your grasp. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to gently lower your cat back down to the ground.

Allow for Adjustment

Each cat is unique and may have different preferences when it comes to being held. Some cats may enjoy being held for long periods of time, while others may prefer shorter intervals. Pay attention to your cat’s behavior and adjust accordingly.

Put Them Down Safely

When you’re ready to put your cat down, make sure to do so gently and safely. Avoid dropping them or placing them in positions that could cause injury.

How to Handle Unwanted Behavior

Cats can be a challenge to handle, especially when it comes to unwanted behavior. However, with the right approach, you can help them become well-behaved members of your family. Here are five ways to handle unwanted behavior in cats:

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Understand the Root Cause

The first step in handling unwanted behavior is to understand why it is happening. Is your cat bored, stressed, anxious, or trying to communicate something to you? Once you identify the root cause, you can address it more effectively.

Avoid Punishment

Punishing or scolding your cat can backfire and make the behavior worse. Instead, use positive reinforcement and redirection to encourage good behavior. For example, if your cat scratches furniture, provide them with a designated scratching post and reward them for using it.

Provide Appropriate Outlets for Natural Behaviors

Cats have natural instincts that must be fulfilled. For example, they need to scratch and hunt. Provide scratching posts and toys to fulfill these needs so that they don’t resort to destructive behaviors on inappropriate items or people.

Establish Clear Boundaries and Rules

Cats need consistency and clear boundaries to understand what behaviors are acceptable and what are not. Use a firm but gentle tone when correcting unwanted behavior and provide plenty of positive reinforcement when they behave appropriately.

Consult with a Professional

If the unwanted behavior persists or is severe, consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for further guidance and support. They can help you identify any underlying medical issues or behavioral problems that require attention.


In conclusion, lifting a cat is no easy feat. It requires careful consideration of your feline friend’s personality, age, physical condition, and environment before attempting to pick them up. And even then, it’s essential to pay attention to their body language to ensure they’re comfortable and not stressed.

To lift your cat safely and comfortably, you’ll need to use proper handling techniques. This includes supporting their entire body with both hands, avoiding picking them up by their limbs or tail, and adjusting your technique based on your cat’s preferences. The Football Hold is a popular method recommended by veterinarians as it provides cats with a sense of security and balance.

Using these techniques can have many benefits such as avoiding injury, building trust between you and your cat, and promoting a positive experience. For new cat owners, approaching with care, using both hands for support, paying attention to body language, allowing for adjustment time and putting them down safely are important tips to keep in mind.

But what if your feline friend isn’t cooperating? Understanding the root cause of their behavior is crucial. Avoid punishment and provide appropriate outlets for natural behaviors while establishing clear boundaries and rules. If the behavior persists or is severe, consulting with a professional can provide further guidance and support.

With these tips in mind, you can confidently lift your furry friend without any scratches or frustration.