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The most important thing is to support the cat’s torso. Keep at least one hand under the cat’s chest, pushing up on its body and not on its legs or joints.
In the leftmost drawing below, the cat’s weight is hanging from its shoulders. “That’s not comfortable for the cat,” says Dr. Burstyn. “Or that safe, to be honest.”
Illustration: Angelica Alzona
In the two other holds, even if the cat is relatively vertical, its chest and belly are supported by your hands. You’ll feel the difference, and so will the cat. You can give its front paws something to rest on, or let its paws hang. But in general, cats like to be held close and well-supported.
Even when holding it in these correct positions, a nervous cat still has room to scratch you with its hind legs. To keep its legs still, bring the back of the cat in toward your torso, as in the middle drawing. Tuck its butt between your arm and body, while still supporting its chest with your hand.
Restraining A Cat
Most pet cats will be used to some handling and so taking them to the vets and being examined should not be too much of a problem. However there are some situations where it will be necessary to restrain a cat so that they are unable to move and lash out.
At the vets
Some cats simply never learn to like being handled. Some pet cats I know who are the most loving and gentle at home turn into a monster when they have to go to the vets.
How to hold your cat for examination
Your vet may ask you to help hold your cat during an examination. The best way to do this is with your cat laying front ways on the table.
To allow the vet to examine the head:
From behind the cat rest your arms either side of their body with your hands pressing gently but firmly on their front legs. This will stop your cat moving the front of their body or running away.
To allow the vet to examine the body and rear:
From the side place both hands on your cats back between their shoulders and press gently but firmly. Make sure the cat is unable to turn their head and bite you.
- It is easiest to pick up a cat that is relaxed or sleepy. If the cat is nervous, it will be much harder to pick him up and may bite or scratch you.
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Place Is down Steadily
After you and your fur buddy are done with hanging out, it is time to put it down; but this has to be accomplished safely and gently. The best way to do this is to bend very low to the ground – that way, your cat’s paws will be very close to the ground, if not touching the floor. Its front paws should make contact with the ground first while you still support the back paws as your kitty steps out from your arms. Then, proceed to gently release your hands from its body completely. Part of the work will be done by your four-legged-buddy who will waste no time in jumping down from your arms, once it is close to the ground.
Pet Your Kitty While Holding It
When your furry friend is held along the length of one of your hands, it means that your second hand will be completely free to pet and stroke it. Just be sure that its legs and body are continually supported. The stroking and petting are targeted at soothing the cat and this will make it feel comfortable enough to relax in your arms. It is also recommended that you talk to your cat in a soothing calm tone while it lies in your arms; by so doing, your pet is likely to feel at ease, and with time, it may even dose off.
How To Pick Up A Cat
- Approach your cat slowly, sudden movements will settle them.
- Talk softly to your cat to gain their confidence.
- Bend at the knees and stroke your cat a few times.
- Place one hand under your cat’s chest near to the fore legs and at the same time scoop up their behind up with your other hand.
- Bring the cat up to your chest height and bring them into you so that you can then hold them securely.
Placing them down
When placing down your cat, be sure that all four paws are on the ground or surface you’re placing her on. Steady her and then release your hands. Try to establish a positive association with your cat. Pick up and bring her to places she likes and wants to be in. Always try to give treats to your cat as you practice picking and releasing her.
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No Hugs Please
Just because you know how to properly handle a cat, doesn’t necessarily mean the kitty wants to be picked up and snuggled. Cats can become very anxious or frightened when they’re not in control and have a limited ability to escape, so don’t try to hold one against its will.
Some cats may feel unstable when they’re held, while others may associate being picked up with being taken to the vet.
Others may have been picked up — and dropped — by children in the past, so encourage kids to sit down and let the cat come to them instead of scooping up the cat.
It’s possible to help your kitty become more comfortable with being held by using rewards and positive reinforcement, but first make sure you understand what kind and how much affection your cat likes. There are right ways to pet a cat.
“Being held or stroked for too long can be very stressful for some cats,” said Nicky Trevorrow, behavior manager at Cats Protection. “Space and peace is often what they need.
As your cat gets more comfortable being petted, practice picking him up for short periods of time and reinforcing good behavior with a treat or playtime.
However, working with cat to help him feel more comfortable being handled doesn’t necessarily mean the animal will ever enjoy being picked up.