Home Cat How-Tos How to pick up a cat

How to pick up a cat

Picking up a cat may sound simple but as many cat owners know too well it is often very tricky. Keep in mind that not all cats want to be held and even those that enjoy being held may not be in the mood to be picked up all the time.

Knowing when and how to pick up your cat is very important in maintaining good human to cat relationship. Picking up a cat the wrong way can cause the animal discomfort or even injury. There are things to bear in mind while picking up a cat, this article will enlighten you more on how to pick up a cat.


Cats can be quite nervous and scared when it comes to being held. This is completely normal and can be attributed back to their natural instinct. Being licked up and held is not a natural situation and it makes many cats stressed.

Even if your cat has lived with you for years, those instincts are still in them. Be mindful that cats feel safer down on the ground and prefer to have all four paws on the floor so it can move as desired. When cats are held they may feel like they are not in control of the situation and will like to get down as soon as possible.



The best time for picking up a cat is when it wants you to pick it up, and the best way to determine this is by reading its body language. A cuddly sign such as rubbing, licking and a joyful tail means they are happy. This would be a great time to take your cat into your arms.

But if it gives you a hostile meow, then it is better to try another time. If your cat squirms or nips when she’s in your arm, put her down immediately.

Cats tend to make it obvious how they are feeling. So if their ears are flat and their tail is low or they seem tense or stressed, it is best to leave them alone.


If you want to pick up a cat, then you should first approach it in a way that it will know that you are coming. This can mean taking it softly and letting them see you. If your cat doesn’t hear or see you approaching and you suddenly pick them up it will startle them.

Rushing because you are nervous or you think it is a better method is not an effective method rather approach your cat from the side with confidence, let it sniff you so it can get used to your smell and presence, stroke them and if the cat seems receptive to be held, lift them up properly.

Taking this slow approach can also help to calm down an agitated cat, helping them to feel more at ease.


Picking up a cat with one hand is very risky as you could easily drop them. Even if your cat is too small, both hands should be used. Using one hand to pick your cat leaves them on unsupported and stressed but using both hands provide stability and fully supports their weight.



Slide one hand behind its front legs so their chest is resting on your arm then quickly use the other hand to scoop the cat up under their back legs supporting their end. Now that you are holding the cat with both hands gently lift the cat up toward your chest.

When you feel the cat is uncomfortable do not throw down the cat as this may lead the cat to lose its balance rather gently lower the cat down until all four of its paws are on the ground. Never you scruff a cat as it can be very uncomfortable for them and can cause muscle damage, particularly in the cat’s neck.

Learning how to pick your cat will help you establish a relationship with the cat and also prevent injury to your cat.


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