How to Pick Up a Cat Edit

In order to pick up a cat correctly, you have to make sure the cat feels safe and comfortable in your presence before you pick it up. After that, you need to approach the cat, give it time to get used to you, and pick it up and hold it against your chest, making your little creature feel safe and secure.

Steps Edit

  1. 1

Approach the cat. If you want to pick up a cat, then you should first approach it in a way that lets it know you're coming. This can mean talking to it softly, letting it see you, or just making your presence known in some way. If you pick up your cat from behind without letting it know you're coming, he's likely to get scared and to feel panicked and unsafe.

    • Some experts say it's best to approach your cat from the left or right side because coming at your cat head-on may seem like too much of a threat.[1]
    • It goes without saying that you shouldn't try to casually pick up cats you find on the street. They can be feral and potentially dangerous. This should be used to pick up your own new kitty, or to pick up the cats of owners you know who give you the go-ahead to try to pick up their cats.
  1. 2

Introduce yourself to the cat. It can take time for cats to warm up to you, even cats that you own. Once the cat knows you're approaching, you should be friendly and loving with the cat so it gets ready to be held by you. Most cats introduce themselves to other cats by nuzzling their faces, so you should do the same, focusing on gently petting the cat's cheeks, forehead, the area behind their ears, or even under their chins, if they are comfortable with you. This gentle petting can help your cat feel safe and loved and ready to be picked up.

    • If your cat is feeling a little bit wound up, this can also help calm him down. It may take a bit of time to make your cat feel at ease.
  1. 3

Make sure the cat wants to be picked up. Most cats will be able to give you a definite sign that they don't want to be picked up. Though you can slowly calm down and earn the trust of domestic cats by petting their heads, you shouldn't try to pick up a cat who is either irritated or just not in the mood to be picked up. If the cat tries to run away from you or bites or scratches you, or just starts swatting at you, then it may be time to try to pick up the cat later.

    • This is especially important to remember for children who want to pick up a cat. You want them to only pick up a cat who is feeling calm and relaxed and who trusts them; you don't want a child to end up getting scratched by a cat who doesn't want to be held.
  1. 4

Place one hand under the cat's body, behind its front legs. Gently move your hand under the cat's body, just below its front legs, so you have the support you need when you begin to pick up the cat. The cat may resist this or not like it right away, so you should move along and use that second hand soon afterwards.[2]

    • It doesn't really matter whether you use your dominant hand to support the cat below its front legs or under its hindquarters; it depends on whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
    • Some people actually tuck the front legs together and place the hand under the two legs instead of below them.
  1. 5

Place the other hand under the cat's hindquarters. Now place that second hand under the cat's back legs, giving plenty of support to its legs and bottom. You can almost think of this as cradling the cat with one of your hands. Once you've gotten your hands in position, you can get ready to pick the cat up.

  1. 6

Gently lift the cat. Now that you're holding the cat with both hands, just gently lift the cat up, towards your chest. Try to make contact with the rest of your body as early as you can when you lift it up. This can help the cat feel more secure early in the process. If the cat is too heavy to lift up from the ground, you may be better off picking it up from a table or an elevated platform.

  1. 7

Hold the cat against your chest. Once you've picked up the cat while supporting it with both hands, you can hold it against your chest, so most of its body is touching your body. The back or side of the cat's head can rest against your chest, too. In general, the cat's posture should be fairly straight instead of having the cat sag against your chest, with its head and neck craned downward; this shows that the cat isn't fully comfortable.

    • You should always pick up a cat with its head above it's body. Never pick up a cat upside down!
    • Of course, some cats like to be held differently, especially if it's your cat and it's more comfortable around you. Some are perfectly fine being cradled like babies while others even like placing their hind legs on your shoulders.
  1. 8

Know when the cat no longer wants to be held. Once the cat starts shifting around, moving, or even meowing or trying to escape your grasp, it's time to set the cat down. You don't want to hold the cat against its will, as this will make the cat increasingly uncomfortable and it will also feel threatened. Some cats don't like to be held for all that long, so if you sense that the cat may be less than pleased in your arms, it's time to let it go.

  1. 9

Gently place the cat down. Don't just throw down the cat the second you feel the little guy is uncomfortable; this may lead the cat to lose its balance or to land awkwardly. Instead, lower the cat down until all four of its paws are on the ground before you comfortably release it. Of course, some cats will just jump right out of your grasp, so you can be prepared for that, too!

  1. 10

Do not scruff the cat. Though mother cats carry their kittens by the scruff, you should not try to scruff a cat, especially after it is three months old or so. At that point, the cat will grow too big, and scruffing it can really hurt the cat and cause muscle damage, as the cat will be too big to be adequately supported by the scruff. Though you or a vet may need to scruff the cat to get it to take medication or trim its nails, you should not scruff a cat just because you think it will be a fun way to pick it up.

  1. 11

If a child wants to pick up a cat, make sure he or she has close supervision. Sure, lots of kids love picking up cats, but if they want to do this, you should instruct them through every step of the process and make sure they are big enough to comfortably pick the cat up; if they are too small, then they may be better off holding the cat while sitting. Once they pick up the cat, make sure to keep an eye on it so you can tell them when the cat wants to be let go.


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More info

  • Some cats simply do not like being picked up. Don't force it. In that case, pick up the cat only when it's necessary, like for taking it to the vet, and perhaps once a week, just so he/she doesn't associate being picked up with the vet.
  • Approach the cat calmly and slowly without making sudden movements.Then crouch down slowly and let the cat sniff or study you. If the cat thinks you're not a threat it will walk over.
  • Do steps five through seven in one smooth motion.
  • Pick cats gently with arms. Don't pick with one arm on the stomach, they surely would be uncomfortable. When leaving the cat don't throw a cat! Place her gently on the ground.
  • If the kitty is uncooperative and you need to get her somewhere, try using the scruff of her neck. Although this is how her mom picked her up, you will still want to keep her back legs supported.

Warnings Edit

  • Do not hold the cat on their back in a baby position. This makes the cat feel insecure and trapped, and it might panic and end up scratching you. Always hold the cat in an upright position against your body for a more secure hold. (Unless you know from a long term experience that the cat does not mind being held on their back.)Cats are temperamental.
  • Don't pick up a cat without getting to know it a bit first, and never pick up a stray or wild cat. It could send you to the ER with scratches and bleeding.
  • Picking up a cat by the scruff is highly unrecommended. The cat can be seriously injured if not picked up by the scruff correctly, and so can you, for this position gives the cat much space to turn around and bite/scratch you.
  • If you are scratched, wash it out with soap and water, and use a topical antibiotic. A cat's paws are not very sanitary.
  • Always remember the dangers of being bitten and scratched.

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