Do you have a cat that you just wish you could hold forever, but doesn’t like being held? You’re not alone. Many of us have cats that don’t like being held, and we all have trouble resisting the temptation to pick them up and hold them anyway. This isn’t just about our desire to show our kitties how much we love them by showering them with cuddles, either. It’s necessary to hold them in order to brush them, trim their claws, and get their veterinary checkups. Is it possible to teach a cat to enjoy being held?
Cats don’t like being held for a variety of reasons, and they show it in ways ranging from wriggling and squirming to clawing, growling and biting. According to Vetstreet, cats that don’t like being held may not have been properly socialized with humans, which leads to a fear of being scooped up and held. Others feel insecure that way, and fear getting dropped.
Despite this, Petplace has some advice for how to train your cat to at least tolerate being held. They have three steps:
- Start when your cat is relaxed, and invite him onto your lap on his own terms. Give him long strokes down his back, scratch his ears, and let him rub his face on your hands. Try and move your strokes to other parts of his body, like his paws, his belly and his tail. Petplace recommends always using long strokes, because these are very relaxing for cats. Do this three to four times a day, for about thirty seconds at a time.When your cat is cool with all of this, then move on to picking him up and putting him in your lap.
- When you pick him up, rest one hand gently on his shoulders, and hold him there for about ten seconds. Offer him a treat, and then let him jump down. When your cat gets comfortable with this, then you can start handling his paws and his tail, and even his head, while offering him treats. Petplace says it’s best to do it this way: Touch/treat, touch/treat, touch/treat. That gets him to associate a reward with getting touched, and makes him more comfortable with it.
- After you’ve gotten your cat through this phase, you can start incorporating handling into his playtime. Have him chase his favorite toy around for a little while, and then handle one of his paws. Reward him with more playtime, as though the playtime is a treat. You can also mix up play and treats as his rewards.
Petplace says that, once your cat is good with you holding and touching him, you can slowly start having friends try and hold him, with the treats nearby. Eventually, he should be okay being handled by strangers, even at the vet’s office. Keep in mind, though; your cat may never be happy with you picking him up and holding him. However, you can get him to tolerate it, and even enjoy it to some degree, if you’re patient, kind, and loving, when following these steps.