Do Cats Like Being Picked Up?

Do Cats Like Being Picked Up
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Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Pauline G. Carter

Yes, some cats like being picked up while others do not. Cats have individual preferences when it comes to handling and contact.

Cats have been cherished for their beauty and mystery throughout history. While we consider them as being aloof and independent, they also become an indispensable part of our lives. They are adorable creatures with unique personalities, and they feel affection and love, just like any other animal.

If you are a cat lover, you know that picking up cats can be a great way to bond and show affection, but it’s essential to understand that not all cats are comfortable being handled the same way. Some cats love being held and cuddled, while others become agitated and uncomfortable. It’s important to understand your cat’s needs and preferences and approach them accordingly. This article will explore the topic of cats and their liking for being picked up.

Do Cats Like Being Picked Up?


Reasons Why Some Cats Like Being Picked Up

Cats are well-known for being independent creatures, but some of them do enjoy being picked up by their owners. There are several reasons why this might be the case, such as:

Positive Experiences With Humans

Cats are intelligent animals and are capable of remembering positive experiences. If your cat has had a positive experience with being picked up before, it is likely they will want to repeat the experience. Positive experiences could include:

  • Being picked up and given treats
  • Being picked up and played with
  • Being picked up and receiving affection.

Trust And Affection Towards Specific Humans

Cats can form strong bonds with their owners and may feel more comfortable being held by someone they trust. If your cat is used to being held by you, they may be more likely to enjoy the experience.

Enjoyment Of Being Close To Human Face

Cats are known to be curious creatures and may enjoy being held close to their owner’s face to investigate. This can provide them with a sense of security and comfort.

Not all cats enjoy being picked up, but some may find it a pleasurable experience. Understanding your cat’s body language and preferences is essential to ensure they feel safe and comfortable.

Reasons Why Some Cats Don’T Like Being Picked Up

Many cat owners enjoy the sensation of cuddling their feline companions, and often assume that their pets enjoy being picked up and held close. However, some cats are not fond of being lifted from the ground, and may exhibit signs of discomfort or even fear when faced with this situation.

Here are some reasons why some cats don’t like being picked up:

Fear Of Being Dropped

Cats are skilled at jumping, climbing, and balancing, but they are not immune to the laws of gravity. A cat’s instinctual fear of heights can cause them to panic when lifted off the ground, particularly if they are unsure of their handler’s ability to hold them securely.

Fearful behavior can manifest in a number of ways, including:

  • Struggling to escape from the handler’s grasp
  • Purring less or not at all
  • Dilated pupils or flattened ears
  • Hissing or growling

Discomfort With Being Too High Above Ground

In addition to the fear of falling, some cats dislike being held up in the air because it makes them feel exposed and vulnerable. When a cat is lifted high above the ground, they lose the ability to control their environment and may become overwhelmed by the new perspective.

This can lead to avoidance behaviors such as:

  • Squirming or pushing away from the handler
  • Attempting to cling to nearby objects
  • Showing signs of anxiety or stress such as panting, trembling, or sweating

Physical Discomfort Due To Restriction Of Movement

Cats are agile creatures that value their ability to move freely and explore their environment. Being picked up and held can be uncomfortable for some cats, especially if they feel that their mobility is restricted or their breathing is hindered.

Physical discomfort can be indicated by:

  • Squirming or wriggling to break free
  • Vocalization such as meowing or growling
  • Clawing or biting the handler
  • Stiffening or arching the back

While some cats enjoy being held and cuddled, others may find the experience stressful, frightening, or uncomfortable. It’s important for cat owners to understand their pets’ individual preferences and respect their boundaries. By learning to read their cats’ body language and responding appropriately, owners can ensure that their furry friends feel safe, comfortable, and secure in their presence.

Tips For Picking Up Cats

Assess Cat’S Body Language Before Attempting To Pick Them Up

Cats have a mind of their own and can be quite unpredictable when it comes to handling them. Hence, it’s essential to analyze the cat’s body language to determine whether they are ready to be picked up or not. Follow these tips to understand what your cat is trying to convey:

  • If the cat has their ears flattened or tail flicking, it signifies they are irritated or agitated. Avoid picking them up in this state.
  • When cats are calm and relaxed, their ears, whiskers, and tail are in a neutral position. This means they are open to being handled.
  • Never approach a cat from behind or make sudden movements, which can startle or confuse them.

Use Proper Technique To Ensure Cat Feels Secure

Cats can feel insecure if not held correctly, leading to fear, anxiety, or even aggression. Therefore, it’s vital to pick them up using proper technique. Follow these steps for a secure hold:

  • Place one hand underneath the cat’s chest, between their front legs.
  • With the other hand, lift the cat from their hind legs. Keep their hind legs and tail straight to avoid discomfort.
  • Hold the cat close to your body to make them feel secure. This contact will provide warmth and reassurance.

Gradually Acclimate Your Cat To Being Picked Up

Some cats are not accustomed to being held and may not feel comfortable initially. As a responsible cat owner, it’s crucial to acclimate them to this process gradually. Follow these steps for a smoother transition:

  • Start by petting the cat until they are comfortable with your touch before attempting to lift them.
  • Once the cat is used to your touch, gradually introduce being lifted by slowly lifting them an inch or two and then setting them down. Gradually increase the height until they’re comfortable being lifted higher.
  • Reward your cat for good behavior with treats or positive reinforcement. This will help create a positive association with being picked up.

Picking up cats can be a daunting task, but with these tips, you can handle them with ease while ensuring their safety and well-being. Remember to analyze their body language, pick them up securely and gradually acclimate them to being held.

With patience and persistence, you and your feline friend can enjoy a long and happy life together.

Frequently Asked Questions For Do Cats Like Being Picked Up?

Do Cats Like Being Picked Up?

Cats are independent, so not all cats like being picked up. It depends on your cat’s temperament and personality.

How Do I Pick Up My Cat Properly?

Place one hand at the base of the cat’s tail and use your other hand to support the chest. Lift gently and confirm the cat is comfortable.

Are There Any Risks To Picking Up Cats?

Yes, if you pick them up improperly or without their consent, they can scratch or bite. They may also panic or become stressed.

Why Do Cats Resist Being Picked Up?

Cats are naturally independent and want to be in control of their environment. They may also feel vulnerable when off the ground.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Wants To Be Picked Up?

If your cat leans into you, rubs against you, or looks up at you with the tail up, it is likely okay with being picked up.


The answer to whether cats like being picked up is not straightforward. Some cats may tolerate it or even enjoy the attention, while others may not. Understanding your cat’s temperament and body language is crucial in determining whether they are comfortable with being picked up.

It is also important to approach your cat in a slow and gentle manner and avoid forcing them into being held if they show signs of discomfort. At the end of the day, every cat is unique, and it is up to the owner to create a positive and stress-free environment for their furry friend.

By being attentive and respectful of their boundaries, we can ensure that our cats are happy and comfortable in our care.

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