How to pick up and carry a cat

by Michael
(London, UK)

Right or wrong way to carry a cat? Photo by GrooverFW (Flickr)

Right or wrong way to carry a cat? Photo by GrooverFW (Flickr)

Picking up a cat is not as straightforward as some people think. These are my thoughts. I would welcome the thoughts and ideas of visitors.

The first consideration is that we usually pick up our cat because we want to. It is possibly for our pleasure. If we do pick up our cat for our pleasure it is probably sensible to ask ourselves if our cat doesn't mind being picked up. Or is he or she is in a suitable frame of mind.

Some cats don't mind and some do. Some cats are lap cats and some are not. Cats are individuals. We should get to know our cat's likes and dislikes.

My lady cat doesn't go on my lap. I can pick her up and place her on my shoulder. She likes that, for a while. My three legged boy, Charlie, asks me to pick him up to take him to the kitchen for his food. He doesn't much care for the actual process of being picked up but is fine when actually picked up.

Sometimes people turn cats over in their arms and carry their cat like babies (see photo). I would think that most cats would dislike this. It places them in a position that is too vulnerable for comfort. Whether a cat accepts this depends on the cat's character.

Cats should be properly supported when being picked up and held. Children have a habit of picking up and carrying cats in a very ungainly and uncomfortable way. Children should be taught how to pick up and carry a cat.

We should be wary about placing our face too close to our cat when he or she is picked up. I place my face very close to both my cats and kiss them etc. I know that is OK. But some cats might feel a bit ill at ease being picked up and to compound that by thrusting one's face into theirs can cause a defensive reaction from the cat.

You can tell a cat is slightly unsure about something if he or she licks his lips. This is displacement activity and is a sign of uncertainty. He is thinking.

Some people pick up their cat by the scruff of the neck as a mother cat would a kitten. The kitten goes limp. This is a practical way of picking up an apprehensive cat. But if the cat is an adult he should be supported by the feet. This method should be used to a minimum for heavy cats.

A frightened cat can be picked up using a towel and possibly gloves to protect us from scratches. We need to be aware of the cat's state of mind. This is easy to judge from the cat's demeanor. I feel that not enough attention is paid to the cat's emotional state and to work around and with that. It makes things much easier for the cat and us if we do.

Aggressive cats are frightened cats and it is best to remove the cause of the fear, to calm the cat down before attempting to pick up the cat.

I am thinking of an animal control officer who picked up a feral cat that scratched him. He had the cat killed. Total ignorance really as he caused the problem.

In conclusion we should pick up a cat if the cat is in a mood to accept it. We should do it in a manner that suits the cat. This means plenty of support for the body and in a way that reassures the cat and does not make him or her anxious.

Comments for
How to pick up and carry a cat

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Jul 13, 2011 Pick them upthe right way!
by: Anonymous

Pick them up behind the front legs and in front of the back legs. As soon as you have them up in the air, let go of the front of back legs and quickly grab the hind feet (so they don't dangle around).

Jul 12, 2011 Toting those Kitty-Wees To & Fro
by: Sylvia Ann

Ethel enjoys having Mom’s left hand and arm, wrist facing up, under her chest and front paws, and right hand slid ‘twixt her thighs from the back, palm up, supporting her dear little vitals. When carried in this comfy position, she stretches out her right paw, pointing the way we’re supposed to go.

Inspector McWee is relaxed (with his mama)and adores being carried and rocked like an infant, as in the photo.

A snapshot from an old photo album shows a backdrop of redwoods, a meadow knee-deep in lupines and poppies and - in the distance - rolling, Grandma Moses hills. To view these scenes of childhood, click You’d never guess they’re the locale for Hitchcock’s horror film ‘The Birds.’

In the foreground of the snapshot, in front of a gate, stands a five-year-old girl with blond pigtails, dressed in tee-shirt and overalls, happily smiling and holding a cat way up near his shoulders, his body dangling to the ground. Poor cat. Confounded brat.....

Jul 12, 2011 We are not mother cats
by: Ruth

Cats should only be picked up by the scruff of their neck as a last resort.
Some people say kittens should be picked up that way to teach them to 'behave' as that is the way mother cats teach them. The big difference is that the kitten knows and trusts his mother and she has no choice but to pick her babies up that way. People have no right to do the same and especially to leave the rest of the kitten's body dangling unsupported.
Kittens and cats should always be picked up using both hands, one to hold the front of the cat and the other to make a seat to support his weight as he is lifted up.
Holding them tummy up like a baby is wrong, most cats don't like it, they do feel vulnerable and it's also degrading to them.
Children do need to be taught to pick a cat up correctly, it's a horrible sight when a cat is clutched around the middle by a child, back legs dangling and a desperate look on their face.
Cats are not toys, they are living feeling beings and have a right to be respected and treated properly.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jul 12, 2011 Picking up a Cat
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Abby is definitely not a lap cat; however, she does tolerate being picked up when I return home.

Her preference is on the shoulder, one hand/arm beneath supporting her legs, with the other hand supporting her body while being pet. Weighing 13 pounds, she tolerates being held about 10 seconds before wanting down.

The cats at the shelter generally don't mind being picked up, providing they're on the shoulder. We only have a couple cats that don't mind their stomach exposed...the real love bugs you can carry any which way. Those are the ones that get adopted the quickest, usually to families with children. We still teach them not to hold a cat like the photo above, explaining that they don't feel safe. Children are quick learners and are so proud when they do it the correct way.

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