Cats generally enjoy being held. It makes them feel safe and loved, but if they feel uncomfortable or in danger, it's obviously not pleasant for them. Here's how to pick up and hold a cat in a gentle manner:
1. Get to know the cat first. Let them sniff and rub you
2. Ask the owner if their cat enjoys being picked up. If they're from a shelter or are strays, you'll have to take a chance. You might want to wear a long sleeved shirt in case they scratch.
3. With one hand, pick the cat up underneath their front legs, holding the ribs. Try not to jostle the front legs too much, or force them into any particular position. They'll move however they want to.
4. With your other hand, slide your hand down the cat's rump and lift the cat's hind legs and put them in the crook of your lifting arm.
5. Hold the cat near your body to support it. A cat will feel more secure and safe if it has your lap, arms and body surrounding and supporting it.
6. Stand or sit still for a few moments before attempting to move while holding the cat.
7. Release the cat by bending close to the ground and unfurling your arms. If possible, place the cat's rear feet on the ground first.
- 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.
- Do steps five through seven in one smooth motion.
- 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.
- 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.
- Always remember the dangers of being bitten and scratched.
- If you are scratched, wash it out with soap and water, and use a topical antibiotic. A cat's paws are not very sanitary.
- 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.
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- 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.)