How To Successfully Pick Up A Cat For The First Time

How to successfully pick up a cat is something that all first-time cat parents should learn. Many people make the mistake of comparing picking up a cat to picking up a human baby.

Yes, they’re both adorable and about the same size, but unlike babies, you can only pick up a cat properly and SAFELY if you’ve earned his trust.

So, TRUST is the keyword here.

A cat that doesn’t trust you will be very defensive. Imagine the following scenario: you come across a stranger on the street and he suddenly wants to hug you.

Would you throw yourself at him, arms wide open?

If you said yes, take a chance and pick up a random street cat to see what happens. Don’t forget to save this article because you might want to come back to it later!

Now, what if the stranger takes the time to properly introduce himself, befriends you, and one day says he needs a hug?

Of course, you’ll do it then and there. This is similar to trying to pick up a cat. He must see you as a friend, not an enemy. Only then will he give you a ‘hug’.

So, you must properly introduce yourself to him, but how?

How To Introduce Yourself To A Cat

Bring some cat treats or toys if you’re able to do so, as they can be very useful. In all honesty, who doesn’t like ‘gifts’ (read: bribes)?

No treats or toys? No problem. Let’s go and say hi to your cat.

A cat, like you, dislikes being ambushed. You should approach him from a position where he can see you. Don’t get too close, though, because cats can smell motives. Your cat will most likely run away if he suspects you, a stranger to him, is attempting to capture him.

Once you’ve gotten close enough to him, lower your body and perhaps take a seat. This way, you’re essentially telling him that you’re not some kind of colossal monster. To put yourself into perspective, imagine you’re standing in front of King Kong. Get it?

If you’ve brought any cat treats or toys, now is the time to get them all out. Consider yourself lucky if you can already buy his trust at this point. 

Next, try making a cat-friendly sound, such as clicking your tongue or mimicking a meow. This will pique your cat’s interest and allow you to move on to the next step more easily, which is to let him sniff your hand.

But, before you do that, make sure he isn’t angry with you, not even the slightest bit. Cats, big or small, have fangs, and it hurts like hell when they bite! You could really end up in the hospital. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

So keep reading to find out how to spot an angry cat.

How To Tell If A Cat Is Angry

You can’t pick up a cat properly if he doesn’t want to be picked up, and it’s even worse if he’s angry with you. Before attempting to pick up a cat, be aware of the following warning signs:

  • Hissing and growling
  • Tail wagging fast like a happy dog
  • Ears laid back – When a cat does this, he’s almost certainly in a bad, bad mood. 
  • Poofing up – His tail gets puffy and his fur stands on end, particularly along his spine.
  • Pupils dilated – Meaning, the black centers of his eyes become super big.

If the cat you’re trying to pick up exhibits any of these signs, you best believe that he’s going to attack you the moment you lay your hands on him. So, back away. You have all the time in the world to try again. 

How To Pick Up A Cat Properly

When your cat gives you the go-ahead, gently scratch the crown of his head. Then, slowly engage in full-body pets. Take your time getting him used to you and convincing him that you mean no harm.

The key to picking up a cat properly is to make him feel supported (read: trust you). The best way is to use both of your hands, one under the chest and the other under the abdomen.

Well, you might prefer to watch a video rather than read a lengthy text. So, take a look at how Dr. Burstyn did it.

You may be wondering, “Can I pick up a cat by the neck?”

The safe answer is no. Don’t pick up a cat by the neck—or scruff—UNLESS you’re also supporting his abdomen.

Cats dislike being scruffed, but this method may come in handy if you need to restrain them, such as when picking up a stray cat in an emergency.

In most cases, spend time bonding with your cat and earning his trust. Only then will he allow himself to be picked up, and everything else will be a walk in the park.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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