7 Reasons Why Your Cat Hates Being Picked Up (2023)

Have you ever wondered why your cat hates being picked up?

Some cats like to be held, but others try to wiggle the moment you hug them.

Even the sweetest cat might not like being held, and it’s definitely a confusing thing for some cat owners.

Why does one cat hate being picked up while another cat likes it?

Today we’re going to explore 7 things that answer the question: why does my cat hate being picked up

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Hates Being Picked Up (1)

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7 Reasons Why Cats Hate Being Held

Picking your cat up and holding their purring body to your chest is one of the perks of being a cat owner.

It relaxes you and makes your worries and anxiety disappear for a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately, some cats barely tolerate being held and do the impossible to avoid your cuddling attempts.

So, are you doing something wrong, or is your cat strange? Let’s find out the answer to the:Why does my cat hate being picked up?

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Hates Being Picked Up (2)

#1 Your Cat Is Scared

Imagine that you’re as small as your cat and going on your business when somebody picks you up without warning.

How would you feel being randomly picked up off of the solid ground and being held by a giant? Scared is the first thing to come to mind.

Some cats hate being picked up because the whole experience is too terrifying for them.

I’m talking about cats who startle easily by loud noises or sudden movements and dash to hide whenever they feel threatened.

Unfortunately, some kitties are shy and easy to spook by nature, and you can’t do much to change their personality.

(Video) Teach Your Cat To Enjoy Being Picked Up

For some, getting picked up by humans is too close to being attacked by predators, so they’re never going to enjoy it.

If your cat seems genuinely afraid when you pick them up, you should leave your kitty on the ground.

Let them approach you on their terms to avoid getting scratched or antagonizing your cat.

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#2 Your Cat Isn’t Well-Socialized

Another reason you might find yourself saying, “My cat hates being held,” is a lack of socialization.

You might think that socialization is a puppy thing, but it’s an essential kitten care tip as well.

If a young kitten doesn’t get exposed to humans early in their life, they might bewary and shy around peopleas they develop into adult cats.

Cats who hadn’t had positive human interactions usually see your petting and cuddling attempts as something dangerous.

They don’t understand that you show your affection and love by holding them and would claw their way out of your hands if they have to.

Fortunately, unsocialized cats might turn to like being held if you put effort into making it a very positive experience.

#3 Your Cat Feels Disrespected

Cats love to observe the world from up high, but only when they get there of their own free will.

Pick them up and place them on the counter or the chair, and they will give you the stinky eye.

So, some cats feel like you don’t respect their climbing abilities when you pick them up to hold them.

They prefer to reach their destination by themselves and feel offended that you think they need your help to do it.

What you can do in these situations is to put more vertical space in your house and let your cat come to your eye level by themselves.

#4 Your Cat Feels Restricted

When you pick your cat up, you do it with good intentions. You want to cuddle Kitty and show how much you love her.

But your embrace might still feel like a cage to your cat. It can especially feel like a form of restraint if you tend to snuggle them close to your chest.

(Video) 14 Signs Your Cat Hates You

All cats hate it when they’re restricted and can’t go wherever they want to go.

That’s why they despise closed doors and spend so much time scratching and meowing at you to open them.

Usually, former stray cats need a lot more space than cats who have never lived on the streets.

These cats need to feel that they’re in control of the situation and don’t like feeling trapped in their arms.

So, if a cat feels that you’re restricting its movements, it’ll struggle to get free for your loving embrace.

Fortunately, you can turn them into lap cats with enough patience, time, and rewards.

#5 Your Cat Has Had a Negative Experience

Another reason why your cat hates being held is a traumatic experience in the past.

While cats don’t form memories as we do, positive and negative events leave their mark and shape your cat’s behavior.

Adopted or rescued cats have a history that you can’t possibly know.

Some of these cats might have been through something that has made them afraid of people picking them or holding them such as a bad experience with a previous owner.

You have to understand that it’s not only about abusive situations.

A cat who was startled by a loud sound while being held in someone’s arms might also hate being picked up and carried around.

In these situations, you can work on making your cat understand that being picked up equals good things.

However, abused or maltreated cats might never trust humans completely. That’s something you have to accept.

#6 Your Cat Is in Pain

Does your cat suddenly hate being picked up and meows whenever you try to do it? Thenyour cat might be in pain.

Whenever a pet deviates from their established patterns and behavior, it’s usually a sign of illness Your cat might have fallen while jumping and hurt their stomach or back.

If your pet has access to the outside world, someone might have kicked your kitty, or stray dogs might have attacked them.

(Video) The Seven Deadly Cat Sins!

So, you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible if your cat seems in pain.

#7 It’s a Breed Thing

Finally, some cat breeds are more likely to hate being picked up than others.

For example, Ragdolls are one of the most laid-back cats, and they love it when you hold them.

They usually get limp whenever somebody picks them up, hence their name.

On the other hand, Abyssinians and Bengals don’t like cuddles, and some people even consider them an aggressive cat breed.

Persians also don’t like climbing as much as other cats. They prefer to keep their paws on the ground and nap on the couch.

How Do I Get My Cat to Like Being Held

Use a soothing voice when picking up your cat, and give it plenty of treats as long as the kitty doesn’t struggle and put her down when she wants to.

Remember, it’s important to tailor your training session to your cat’s tolerance level to ensure that it responds well to this new form of affection.

How Do You Pick Up a Cat That Doesn’t Like Being Picked Up

In general, if you’ve tried making being picked up a pleasant experience for your cat, and it won’t go for it,you really shouldn’t push the issue.

However, if you need to pick your cat up for an emergency or to administer medications, there are ways to do it.

Most of the time, scruffing your cat will put it in the “off” position.

Many vets actually call the scruff “the off button”.

Most cats will immediately go limp when scruffed, making it easier to pick them up even if they don’t like it.

Just to be on the safe side, especially if you’re administering medications, you should also wrap your cat in a towel.

This “kitty burrito” as it’s called, helps keep your cat from squirming away or scratching you.

My Cat Hates Being Held, and That’s Okay

Don’t sweat it too much if your cat hates being picked up.

Some cats are just too shy, reserved, or dignified to allow a human to carry them around.

(Video) Do Cats Like Being Picked Up And Held?

Some of them may have reasons that stem from previous abuse, as well, making it even more important not to push the issue.

Respect your cat’s boundaries and let them approach you on their terms.

Otherwise, your cat will avoid your hands whenever they think you’re about to pick them up. That will make taking your cat to the vet mission impossible.

What do you think about these 7 reasons why your cat hates being picked up? Does your cat likes being held? Tell us below!

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Hates Being Picked Up (3)

Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

Learn more about Grigorina here


Why does my cat not like to be picked up? ›

Being picked up and held can make some cats nervous, as they are being restrained in your arms. This limits their options for escape if anything were to startle them. Cats are independent creatures, and although they often like to be up high, they like to choose their own perch and not be restrained whilst doing so.

What to do if your cat won't let you pick them up? ›

If your cat hates being picked up and held, slow down and just focus on being able to put one hand on her side and then releasing. Work up to placing a hand on each side and then letting go.

How do you pick up a cat that doesn't want to be picked up? ›

How to Pick Up and Carry a Cat — Who doesn't like it.
  1. Position yourself next to or slightly behind your cat.
  2. Place your outer arm underneath the cat's chest (and belly) and the other hand in front of the cat–on his chest (to control his front legs).
  3. Pick up your cat so that he is parallel to the ground.
Jun 13, 2018

Why does my cat want to be near me but not touched? ›

Your cat loves you, he just might not be comfortable with regular petting or being held. Don't worry though, there are things you can do to entice your kitty to want more love, he just needs to get to know you better. The way to do this is do what he wants, not what you want.

Will my cat ever like being picked up? ›

In addition to being petted, do cats like to be held? Sometimes. Most cats love to snuggle, and they're typically responsive to being held if you introduce them to it gradually. The best way to approach your cat for a hug is to start with a few soft pets, then carefully pick them up.

Should I pick up a scared cat? ›

Respect Your Cat's Space

Although it might make you feel better, resist the urge to pick up or cuddle a frightened cat.

Why does my cat bite me when I pick him up? ›

“The most common reason a cat bites you is that they aren't enjoying the current interaction. Biting is their way to say 'back off' when they feel threatened [or annoyed],” says Rachel Barrack, DVM, a veterinarian at Animal Acupuncture in New York City. “Cats also may bite when playing, as they are natural predators.”

How do I bond with my cat? ›

Here's how to bond with your cat!
  1. Give Your Cat Their Own Space. When you first meet a cat or bring them home, you need to take it slow and give them plenty of space. ...
  2. Try to Maintain Some Consistency. ...
  3. Let Them Initiate Bonding. ...
  4. Recognize When to Take a Step Back. ...
  5. Encourage Your Cat to Come to You. ...
  6. Expect Setbacks.

Why does my cat follow me everywhere but won't cuddle? ›

This means they often prefer to communicate at a distance and is the reason why some cats may be content just to be in the same room as their human, rather than being constantly stroked and cuddled.”

What do cats think when we meow at them? ›

Sorry to break it to you, but human meows mean nothing to cats. At most, you can get your cat's attention and they may even appreciate your attempts to communicate by purring or even meowing back. But to most cats, human meows sound like human language.

What do you do if a cat hisses at you? ›

Cats hiss at people because they feel intimidated or don't recognize the person's smells. They might even pick up the smell of another animal on your friend! If this happens, tell your friend not to approach your cat or try to pet her. The best action is to ignore your cat.

Is it bad to hold a cat like a baby? ›

Can you carry a cat like a baby? The short answer is yes, you absolutely can — as long as you do it properly. The long answer is that carrying a cat the right way means using both the right physical technique and sharing the right emotional relationship with the feline to do so.

How quickly do cats forgive? ›

For many cats, minor misdemeanors seem to fall in the short-term memory category so it is likely all will be forgiven within a few hours to days. Kittens have a relatively short memory and can appear to be more forgiving than older cats.

Will a cat forgive you? ›

The good news is, despite their reputations for being antisocial, cats love bonding and they do forgive and forget. So, if you're at a loss as to how you're going to rebuild trust and affection with your cat, don't fret.

How do you tell if a non affectionate cat likes you? ›

Here are some common signs that your cat loves you:
  1. Slow Blinking. Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. ...
  2. Headbutting. Your cat may bump their head against you or rub their cheeks against you to show affection. ...
  3. Grooming. ...
  4. Kneading. ...
  5. Showing Their Belly. ...
  6. Meowing. ...
  7. Purring. ...
  8. Greeting You at the Door.
Feb 1, 2022

Why does my cat show me no affection? ›

While some cats can be exuberant and crave affection, others can be timid and appear aloof. Most of the time, this comes down to individual personality differences. However, some cats might be less affectionate because they didn't have enough socialisation with humans when they were young.

Why does my cat swat my hand when I stop petting? ›

This is called petting induced or overstimulation aggression. It's a common behavior in many cats, and is something that can be both frustrating and frightening until you learn how to manage this behavior with your cat.

What do cats think when we kiss them? ›

Conclusion. Most cats don't understand that kisses from humans are a sign of affection. A cat will surely let you know if they enjoy being kissed or not. The best ways to show your cat that you love them are to give them toys, treats, and plenty of one-on-one time.

Where not to pet a cat? ›

Cats typically don't like being petted on their tummy, legs/feet, or tail. Of course, there are always outliers—some cats will love every bit of affection, no matter where they're touched or who's doing it. But generally, you shouldn't pet a cat you don't know on their stomach or extremities.

What is a cat's favorite spot to be petted? ›

As a general guide, most friendly cats will enjoy being touched around the regions where their facial glands are located, including the base of their ears, under their chin, and around their cheeks. These places are usually preferred over areas such as their tummy, back and base of their tail.

What is a cat most afraid of? ›

Unfamiliar Objects, Fruit or People

But it is a good example of cats being afraid of unfamiliar things (people, objects, fruits, etc.). Cats like to feel safe and secure in their home — if something new enters their space, that's probably going to cause some stress.

Why won't my cat let me pick him up anymore? ›

Some cats do not like being picked up and will not allow it ever. It may be that they had a bad experience early in their lives (someone picked them up and did not support them or did something bad to them), or it may be that they are just uncomfortable not having solid ground under their paws.

Where your cat sleeps on your bed and what it means? ›

PetMD also points out that cats are territorial creatures. They claim their turf by marking it with their scent. So when they sleep on top of you, they're actually marking you—and your bed—as theirs. We should be flattered by this behavior, apparently.

Why do cats bite then lick you? ›

Why does my cat bite me and lick me? If your cat licks you then bites you, or bites you then licks you, this is likely a sign that they are overstimulated. Licking humans or other cats is usually a bonding exercise for cats that helps them share their scent and feel good.

Why does my cat swat at me when I stop petting him? ›

The most common include: Fear/defense: A fearful cat may exhibit dilated pupils, ears turning back, or a twitching tail. In this situation, your cat may growl, hiss or swat at the person reaching, touching or petting.

How long does it take a cat to trust you? ›

Depending on their upbringing, it may take days, weeks, or months for a newly-befriended cat to trust you. Bonding with cats can occur naturally through feeding and daily interactions, but some cats need a little extra attention and time to feel safe. And keep an open mind about how cats might show trust.

What do cats love the most? ›

Cats love sleeping and napping.
  • Cats love grooming themselves and being groomed. ...
  • Cats love a clean and private bathroom space. ...
  • Cats love — and need — to scratch. ...
  • Cats love high places for watching and hiding. ...
  • Cats love a stimulating environment. ...
  • Cats love their humans. ...
  • Craving more content?

Does sleeping with your cat help you bond? ›

Cats are by instinct always on the alert, so when they sleep in your bed it means they feel secure with you. Kittens sleep in litters, so by sleeping with you your cat is showing affection and creating a deeper bond with you. In addition, cats are territorial.

Are female cats more affectionate? ›

Female Cats Are More Independent

Even after spaying, the maternal instinct remains strong in females. While they aren't as apt to display in-your-face affection, female cats are intensely loyal and devoted to their owners.

Why does my cat stare at me? ›

As well as being a method of communication, staring is also a sign of a close bond between you and your cat, as they are unlikely to hold eye contact with someone they don't like or trust.

Why do cats follow me to the bathroom? ›

Your cat might follow you into the bathroom simply because they love you and want to be with you all the time. Although independent animals, felines still form close bonds with their humans and your cat even misses you when you're not around.

What words do cats understand? ›

“Technically, cats can't understand human words because their cognitive skills are not advanced enough,” Glover told The Dodo. Cats understand language the same way that we understand what they're trying to say when they meow. They know that we're talking to them, but they don't know exactly what we're saying.

What do cats think when we leave? ›

Cats feel separation anxiety when their owners leave for extended periods of time, or when changes to the schedule are made abruptly. An emotional response to sudden shifts occurring at home, separation anxiety can be subtle enough that signs of distress are entirely missed or misunderstood.

Why does my cat get upset when I pick her up? ›

If a cat meows in pain when you pick them up, especially if they usually enjoy being held, some things that could be going on are a broken bone, an infection, or cancer. You should always observe your cat's behavior to know if you should suspect a condition or if they don't want to be held.

Why doesn't my cat like to cuddle or be held? ›

Human beings love to embrace, but for a feline, a cuddle can make them feel trapped. That's why, when cats are held and prevented from having an escape route, they may become fearful or aggressive.

Why does my cat try to get away when I pick her up? ›

Sometimes your cat may just need some alone time. If they associate you approaching with being picked up or stroked and they don't fancy it, they may well run away. Next time they may be in the mood for some affection and so head towards you.

Why does my cat get angry when I pick him up? ›

Many reasons for this exist. The way the cat is approached before being picked up and how she is held often contributes to a cat having an unpleasant association with the experience. Cats need to be approached in a way that doesn't surprise or scare them and they also need to feel safe while being held.

Why do cats push down on you? ›

Cats often knead to show pleasure. Your cat may also knead on your lap to show their love and contentment. A stressed cat may knead to create a soothing, calm mood. Cat kneading is an instinctive trait that they inherit from kitten-hood.

How do I know if my cat doesn't like being held? ›

If you approach your cat and they shrink away from you, moving into a crouched position, then this a strong indicator that they want their own space. If they try to run or jump away then you can also be pretty confident that they don't want physical contact!

What does it mean when a cat puts their paw on your face? ›

In the wild, cats will mark their territory by rubbing against trees and scratching surfaces. When your pet puts its paws on your face, it means that it claims you as its territory. This behavior is more common in multi-pet households where the cat feels a greater need to have you to herself.

Should I hiss at my cat when he bites? ›

Instead, whenever the cat begins to swat or play attack, immediately stop the play by walking away or by using some non-physical form of punishment such as a water sprayer, can of compressed air, cap gun, hand held alarm or perhaps a loud hiss.

How do you know if your cat is crying for help? ›

Signs Of Obvious Distress

Cats are typically very stoic animals, so if your cat suddenly seems to be in distress, it is a cause for concern. Howling, crying, hiding, and otherwise acting in a way that is out of character for your pet should alert you that something may be seriously wrong.

How long does a cat stay mad at you? ›

There is no definitive answer as to how long your cat will do this. For many cats, minor misdemeanors seem to fall in the short-term memory category so it is likely all will be forgiven within a few hours to days. Kittens have a relatively short memory and can appear to be more forgiving than older cats.


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