It’s not uncommon for cats to not like being held or carried. While some felines don’t mind it, others get uncomfortable or downright frightened. A scared cat can mean the claws come out, which isn’t a fun experience for either party. If you’d like to get your cat more accustomed to being held, try the following tips:
1. Ease into it: Get your cat comfortable with being handled by gently grasping both sides of her body. Try lifting your cat off the ground for just a few seconds at a time to start.
2. Learn what works for your cat: Some cats prefer being lifted from underneath, while others prefer to be held with their paws resting on your shoulders and their chest against your torso. It will quickly become evident if your cat prefers one way over another.
3. Use positive reinforcement: Offer a small treat after each hold. Also be aware that felines sometimes don’t like to be held because they associate it with something negative (like being put in a crate or a trip to the vet). If this is the case, you’ll need to shift the experience to a positive one with praise and treats.
4. Watch where you’re walking: Some cats become very uneasy if held while walking up or down stairs because the safety of the ground can seem far away.
5. Create a calm atmosphere: Try placing a comfy blanket on your lap before picking your cat up. You can also use a pheromone spray to soothe your cat’s anxiety.
6. Supervise children: Cats will sometimes be hesitant to be held because they’ve had a negative experience with it in the past. Kids are especially likely to pick a cat up roughly or incorrectly. For the safety of everyone involved, always supervise children around pets.
If nothing seems to work and you’re concerned an underlying anxiety issue may be to blame, don’t hesitate to consult with a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.