Cats are affectionate animals and they love to be touched and stroked, and picked up on occasion – but it is always on their terms. A cat will let you know what they want and when by their body language and vocal sounds and an intuitive human will quickly pick up on the signs.
How to Pick Up and Hold a Cat
Firstly, ensure that the cat is relaxed and happy to be handled. Gain the cat’s trust by giving it some attention such as gentle stroking down its back or rubbing behind its ears. Once the cat is comfortable, pick it up gently and slowly. The recommended way to pick up a cat is to place one hand against the cat’s chest under its front legs and the other hand supporting the hind legs of the cat, ensuring that you fully support its body weight. Holding the cat close to your body will make it feel more secure in your arms. It is often best to stand still or sit down whilst holding the cat, as walking or any movement can be frightening.
Children and Cats
Children should always be encouraged to sit down whilst handling a cat and supervised by adults at all times. It is too easy for small hands to drop or accidently hurt a cat by squeezing it too tight, and kitty’s self defensive scratches or bites are likely to draw blood and hurt.
How NOT to Pick Up a Cat
Whilst mother cats pick up their kittens by the scruff of their neck, this isn’t recommended. If you don’t pick a cat up correctly by the scruff of its neck, it can be seriously injured. Picking up a cat like a baby and cradling it in your arms on its back it often an unwise decision – in this position, the cat can feel vulnerable and in panic may bite or scratch.
A Guide to Feline Attention
Cats love to be scratched under the chin, around the face and ears. They enjoy a relaxing massage including having their ears gently massaged. They love to be stroked the length of their back and scratched at the base of their tails.
Cats hate having their fur brushed backwards. They don’t like having their feet touched (for long anyway), and playing with their highly sensitive whiskers is a definite no-no.
Of course, what a cat wants or doesn’t want can change at a moment’s notice – the trick is to watch for the signs and follow your feline’s instructions.
Image: Justin Ennis via Flickr