Why Does Your Cat Hate Being Picked Up?

We all love to pick up our cats and cuddle them, but some cats do not like to be picked up. Why? The answers are actually really simple and we will explain. We’ve all seen the photos on the internet of cats looking bored and unhappy while their owners hold them for photos.

Sometimes, when you go to pick up your cat them may complain loudly – MEOW! Other cats may just struggle against you and try to escape at every opportunity.

So, on to the WHY?

Personality & Socialisation

Some cats just don’t like to be held. Not all humans like to be touched/hugged and cats can be the same. It can also be how they were socialised as kittens. If they were left to their own devices and not picked up a lot or interacted with they will grow up to expect that and won’t like being picked up. As a foster carer I make sure to touch, cuddle and play with all the kittens who come to my house (I’m selfless that way!). This way, I know that when they go to their forever home they will like to interact with the humans that have adopted them.


Feeling restrained

Cats don’t like feeling restrained. When they are picked up it is an action against their will and it restrict their movement. Particularly cats who may have had traumatic or difficult experiences in the past (like being abandoned) will often struggle against being picked up. This is because they want to be free to escape any danger and when they are being held they can’t do that. It’s important to be understanding of this and of your  cats history.

Forced affection

If you regularly dismiss your cats objections and pick them up they may learn to tolerate being held… but more likely they will see you as an unsafe person and stop coming to you for affection. It’s much better to go with your cats personality and quirks and love them for the affection they do show you than trying to force cuddles on them.

Ask about personality

The best thing about adopting a cat is that the staff will often know their personality (or is it… purrsonality?) and can point you towards a cat that really loves to cuddle. Many kittens have been fostered before they are available for adoption and as such the staff know what their experiences with humans have been. Don’t be afraid to ask about the personality of the cat you want to adopt.


How to change it?

With kittens, start slowly… introduce them to being picked up and cuddled and played with. When they struggle, let them down immediately so that they know they are safe. Do this often throughout the day – not just once or twice.

With adult cats, let them come to you. Again, you can pick them up and give them a brief stroke but put them down BEFORE they begin to struggle. This way they know they are safe and can learn to like the cuddle before it becomes annoying to them.

Good luck and happy cuddles.