Last Updated: 7 months ago

Do cats like being picked up or being held?

If you’ve ever scooped up your cat for a hug only to have him try to wriggle free, I’m sure you’ve pondered this!

We cat parents know that cats are independent creatures and that they like things done on their terms.

However, do they actually enjoy our cuddling sessions, or do they play along in case we get offended?

Well, keep on reading to find the answer and to learn how to hold a cat properly.

Do Cats Like Being Picked Up?

Do Cats Like Being Picked Up? Here's How to Tell

I’m sure that those of you who have multiples have discovered that not all of them are fans of petting or cuddling.

That’s completely normal because cats, just like people, have different personalities and preferences.

So, some cats can’t wait for you to pick them up, while others will run in the opposite direction.

The question is why, right? Here are five possible explanations.

1. Cat Feels Restrained

First and foremost, cats don’t like to feel cornered or restrained. Unfortunately, for some of them, your arms feel like a cage. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true.

When you pick Kitty up, she doesn’t realize that you want to cuddle her.

Instead, she thinks you’re trapping her, and she can’t go wherever she wants. That’s why Kitty jumps to the ground.

2. Cat Feels Disrespected

cat picked up

Cats adore high places because they can observe their “territory” and everything you’re doing.

However, they don’t like being high in the air if it’s not on their own terms. They feel vulnerable, and that’s why they want to get down as soon as possible.

What’s more, all cats are excellent climbers, and when you lift them in your arms, they might consider this behavior an insult to their climbing abilities. Ouch!

3. Cats Don’t Trust Humans

Another reason why a cat doesn’t like hugs is that she hasn’t been socialized properly. Yes, dogs are not the only creatures that require socialization.

Young kittens that haven’t had contact with humans will hiss and puff up their bodies because they regard humans as a threat.

It will take them longer to get used to a human’s touch, and some of them might remain semi-feral.

On the other hand, if you handle kittens from the moment they are born, you’ll see that they mature into cats that do not fear human presence and seek human company.

So, if you have a litter of kittens, make sure that you interact with them as much as possible.

4. They Are Afraid

held cat being afraid

Unfortunately, some cats might be against your cuddling attempts because they’ve had a traumatic experience.

For example, if you have a rescue cat with a history of abuse, she probably won’t feel very safe when you attempt to lift and carry her around.

However, maltreatment is not the only negative experience we’re talking about.

A trip to the vet or another time when you had to restrain the cat for its own good will make her fearful and suspicious.

5. They Are in Pain

Sometimes, a cat that suddenly doesn’t like to be held might have a medical problem.

That’s why any abrupt change in your cat’s behavior should send warning bells.

It might not be anything more than an upset tummy, but you should have it checked up immediately.

How do I pick up a cat properly?

picking up a cat

Of course, some cats love to be in your arms and can’t get enough of it. That’s because they associate you with safety and security.

However, if your cat is not one of those, you shouldn’t fall into despair. You can teach your cat to like cuddling in your arms.

To do that, you have to know how to hold a cat properly. I’m sure that some of you think that it’s not rocket science.

Take a moment to consider that maybe you’ve been doing it wrong the whole time, and that’s why Kitty doesn’t like you holding her.

The rules differ from cat to cat, but here are some guiding lines on how to pick up a cat:

  • Make sure that the cat is comfortable and in a good mood.
  • When you pick the cat, support her feet with your hands. Do not let the paws hang in the air because cats feel like they might fall.
  • Keep Kitty close to your body so that she feels content and secure.
  • Avoid the temptation to place the cat belly-up like a baby. Some cats are all right with this position, but many are anxious that the most vulnerable part of their body is exposed.
  • Do not hold the cat tightly, or you’ll scare her.


My Ronnie is one of those cats that radiates a strong dislike whenever I pick her up and cuddle her.

She is also not a fan of petting unless I happen to have a piece of chicken in my hand, but that’s another matter.

It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love me; it’s just a perk of her character. So, don’t take it personally if your cat is like mine.

What do you think? Do cats like to be held, and why do some of them hate it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.


Do cats like to be held? If you've ever scooped up your cat for a hug only to have him try to wiggle free, I bet you've wondered this! Find out the answer!
Olfa T
Olfa T

Olfa knows how to get things done and has a keen business sense that others admire. She’s always on the go, coming up with new ideas! Her ability to anticipate the needs of her readers and deliver information that they want is what makes CatVills such a success. She loves cuddling her cat Picaciu. He is her inspiration.