How to Handle and Pet Your Cat the Right Way

All you want to do is show love and affection toward your cat. But how do you handle and pet your cat when it runs away like its tail is on fire every time you approach it?

how to hold and pet a cat

While some cats don’t like being touched or handled in any way, while others love the occasional petting and love. However, there is a way of handling and holding your cat. A cat’s body is sensitive, and they don’t like being touched in certain areas, like their belly and even down their back. But, if you hold them snuggly and support their feet, they will allow you to hug them and love them.

In this post, we’ll find out the right ways to handle and pet your cat so it can sit happily in your arms and let you love it for however long you want.

How to Handle and Pet Your Cat

Approaching a New Cat

If you’ve done your bit of research on holding your cat, you may be aware of the viral video “How to pick up a cat like a pro – Vet advice on cat holding” by Dr. Uri Burstyn.

In this video, with the help of the one-year-old cat, Clawdia, Dr. Burstyn demonstrates some of the best ways through which you could safely handle and pick up your cat. Here is his technique:

  • Slowly approach the cat with your fingers curled inward, so it doesn’t get spooked.
  • Let the cat sniff your hand, and if it butts your hand with its head, use your pointing finger to gently ruffle its fur so it feels you petting its face.
  • Using your fingers, scratch its chin and the sides of its face. Cats like having their face rubbed and gently scratched.
  • Once the cat is comfortable with your touch, use a light touch to slowly stroke the cat. Do not touch the cat’s limbs.
  • Stroke the cat behind its ears, on its head, and down its nose. Also, take this opportunity to stroke the cat’s back. If its back perks up, your cat likes having its butt scratched.

How to Pick Up a Cat

A cat’s body is pretty flexible. There’s a running joke in the cat-loving community that cats are essentially liquid!

While their bodies do possess certain liquid-like qualities, cats still have bones, organs, and muscles. And like humans, their bodies need support.

Think about how most people pick up their cats this way; if someone grabs you by the stomach and holds you in that position for a long time, your stomach will start hurting. You’ll also start scrambling to have a foothold, and you’ll panic because you’ll be floating in mid-air. Being lugged around the house with a vice around their stomach feels the same way for a cat.

If you want to pick up your cat safely, we take the phrase from Dr. Burstyn’s video, squish that cat!

woman holding and hugging a cat

When you pick up a cat, put one hand on under their chest and one under the abdomen. And place it against your body, and squish them so it feels secure. If you’re taking your cat around the house, this position will make it feel happier, knowing that you won’t drop it any time soon.

But remember, they’re smaller than we are, so gentle touch and proper handling are crucial. When you squish them against you, let them use the side of your hip bone as a foothold. Your cat will feel more secure since it won’t be hanging around or flopping around.

Foot placement is extra crucial because within seconds, your cat will start scrambling, and if that happens, their hind legs will do some damage, not to mention their claws.

How Do You Handle a Shoulder Cat?

Your cat loves hanging out on your shoulder, and you have the claw marks on your shirts to prove it!

If your cat loves to hop up but can’t find a place to sit, place a hand on its back when your cat sits on your shoulder. This gives them the support they need so they can sit comfortably. But, if you want the cat to get off your shoulder, use the same holding technique as you would with a toddler.

cat on a shoulder

Put a hand on the cat’s butt, one on its upper back, and lean forward on the couch or the bed. Hopefully, your cat won’t have its claws dug deep into your shirt, so it will easily get down. If not, you will need a second person’s help to unhinge the claws from the fabric.

One thing you should never do is pick a cat up by its waist when it’s on your shoulder. Your cat will start scrambling, and you will potentially end up with scratches on your face.

General Rule on Putting a Cat Down

Do it gently. No cat like it when you manhandle them or treat them roughly.

When putting your cat on the ground, go as far down as you can, and place its back feet on the ground first. It’ll be easier for your cat to walk away once it lands on its feet.

How Do You Properly Handle and Pet Your Cat?

It’s a common fact that cats are moody, sensitive creatures. So, when you pet an animal like that, you best be warned that it won’t be happy if you pet it the wrong way. And yes, there is a wrong way!

Here are some of the places where you should never touch when handling or petting a cat:

  • Do not touch or pull a cat’s tail. Do not pull on the tail if it’s hiding under furniture.
  • Do not pull the cat’s legs. The cat’s limbs are fragile to a human’s strength. You may end up dislocating the leg if you tug on it. For that reason, do not pet or touch the cat’s leg.
  • Do not touch the cat’s paws or its forelegs. A cat will find this move threatening.
  • Do not bundle up or squeeze your cat completely. It will attack.
  • Do not be aggressive with the cat’s ears, eyes, or nose. If you are stroking the cat’s face with the pads of your fingers, only do so on its ears, eyes, and nose if it allows the touch. Nose boops are permissible, but only gentle ones.

Keeping the above in mind, here is what you do when you want to pet a cat the right way:

Introduce Yourself

Cats don’t like to be surprised. So, if you’re planning to pet it, announce your presence by calling its name gently. Your cat has a keen sense of hearing, so calling out its name will make it aware that you’re approaching. Catching your cat by surprise will only annoy it, which will result in some random scratches and escape routines when you try to pet it.

Start with the Head

Cats like soft, slow rubs on their neck and head. Always start by curling your hand and approaching from a downward angle. Let the cat sniff your hand, then proceed with petting and scratching the cat’s head. Use the pads of your fingers to scratch behind its ears, under the chin, and stroke its nose.

If your cat likes the movement, it will close its eyes slightly or look like it’s dozed off. Either way, your cat will look like it’s thoroughly enjoying the petting.

Pro Kitty Care Tip:

Scratch the base of its ears and behind its whiskers. Cats like to be lightly scratched on the cheeks and having their whiskers gently ruffled. Do not use your nails, though. Otherwise, it will interpret that movement as aggression.

If you want to cradle your cat’s head in your hands, if your cat is used to this from an early age and does not react, that’s fine. Otherwise, do not do so because your cat will not feel comfortable.

petting a cat under the chin

Go Down the Back

A cat’s back is the safest place where you can pet it. Use gentle strokes with light pressure, and stroke your cat down to the top of its butt, but don’t go up the tail. At the top of its butt, use your nails to scratch it slightly.

While most cats will respond positively, there is always a chance that some won’t. So, if your cat moves away, you know what not to do.

Avoid the Tummy

Unlike your darling dog, cats don’t like to have their tummies rubbed or pet because, to them, that is their most vulnerable area. Even if your cat sometimes lets you stroke its tummy, it’s best to stay away from the area altogether. Plenty of cat real estate to pet!

Closing Thoughts

We now know how to handle and pet your cat. What do you do now? If you have a cat, go ahead and try these tricks.

The best way to learn your cat’s sweet petting spots is to try these tips out. Your cat will be more than happy to let you know what it likes. But be warned, if your cat gets a taste of constant love and petting, it will become addicted.

Frankly speaking, though, with that face, we’d be more than happy to feed that addiction!

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