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How Does a Cat Like to Be Held? 8 Important Tips


Apr 13, 2023
Young woman holding cute siberian cat with green eyes


Young woman holding cute siberian cat with green eyes

Cats are wonderful animals that bring their owners years of love, laughter, and at times, cuddles. However, not all cats are the same. You may have one cat that loves snuggling with you and another that prefers to be more hands-off. This is completely normal.

You’ll also find that some cat owners out there have cats that enjoy being held quite often. While this may not be the case for every cat, there are times when you have no choice but to hold your cat. Perhaps someone is at the door and your cat tries to be an escape artist. Maybe you need to take your kitty to the vet. No matter the situation, we’re here to make things easier. Let’s take a look at how cats like to be held and a few tips to make the situation more comfortable for your feline friend.


The 8 Tips to Safely Hold a Cat

1. Approach Your Cat From the Front

Whether it’s time for a visit to the vet or you simply want to hold and cuddle your cat, it’s best to approach from the front where your cat can see you. Cats get startled very easily. Yes, if you walk up from behind, your cat most likely knows you’re there, but they aren’t aware that you’re about to pick them up. Instead, allow your cat to see you, offer a few soft, encouraging words, and make the experience more pleasing, not startling.

person holding brown cat
Image Credit: Paul Hanaoka, Unsplash

2. How to Pick Your Cat Up Safely

Before you can even begin holding your cat, you need to get it in your arms. As we’ve already mentioned, approaching from the front is important so as not to startle your kitty. You’ll also want to pick your kitty up with both hands. You may feel that your cat is small enough to scoop up one-handed, but that isn’t very safe. If your cat tries to get away or resists your efforts you could drop it before you even get them safely in your arms. Using both hands is the best way to avoid this.

3. Support Is Key

Whether holding your cat is a daily activity or a now-and-again thing, supporting their little bodies is key to making them feel comfortable. You should always keep your hand under your cat’s rear so they don’t feel like they are falling. They aren’t fans of dangling so their front legs should rest on your arm or chest, whichever seems more comforting to your cat. If you’re in a situation where your cat can get away, make sure you keep the legs more secure. You can position your hand under the chest with your fingers out far enough to hold their front legs if needed. This is especially helpful when your cat is frightened, outdoors, or inside the vet’s office.

vet holding the scottish fold cat in a veterinary clinic
Image Credit: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

4. Know Your Cat’s Limitations

No one out there understands your cat better than you do. If your cat is one of those that enjoys being held and cuddled, by all means, enjoy that experience. You can pick your cat up anytime the two of you want a bit of togetherness. However, if your cat is more stand-offish or doesn’t enjoy it when you pick them up, don’t force it on them. Instead, only pick your cat up when it’s necessary.

5. Be Positive

One of the best ways to make holding your cat something good for both of you is to use positive reinforcement. If you pick up your kitty, make sure to talk smoothly to them and tell them how good they are doing. Afterward, give your kitty a treat so they will associate being held as a good thing.

Woman holding up a ginger cat
Image Credit: Marlia Boiko, Shutterstock

6. Test the Waters

You want your cat to be comfy when you’re holding them. To find which way they prefer, try different ways. As we’ve already mentioned, make sure your kitty is secured under their bottom at all times. Once they are secured you can test whether your cat prefers lying over your arm or if they enjoy having their paws and torso against your chest. When you realize which one is best suited to your kitty, you can hold them that way each time you pick them up.

7. Watch Your Step

Cats have great survival instincts. If you are holding your cat and walking in areas that don’t feel safe to them, they are going to react. Never walk near stairs or ledges with your kitty. They will realize they have no safety beneath them and the experience can make them fearful of being held in the future.

Holding Cat
Image Credit: Ann Kosolapova, Shutterstock

8. Show Care When Putting Your Cat Down

Even if your cat is one of those that enjoys climbing and leaping from tall places, allowing them to jump from your arms isn’t the answer. Instead, always place your cat gently on the ground, their cat tree, or another safe surface. This will help them associate being held as a good thing and not something they should fear.



For cat owners who can’t get enough cuddles with their cats, knowing how a cat likes to be held is important information. While some cats will enjoy being held, some will never truly like it. That’s okay. A cat owner needs to understand their cat and its likes and dislikes. When you do hold your kitty, make sure to implement these 8 tips so you can ensure the situation is comfortable for your kitty.

Featured Image Credit: Evrymmnt, Shutterstock

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