Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Does a Cat Like to Be Held? Vet-Approved Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

old man holding cat

Vet approved

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Every cat is unique and has its own set of preferences. Much of your cat’s comfort level for being held will depend on its personality and preferences. Some cats actually do enjoy cuddling and being held, while other cats prefer pets or being left alone.

In some cases, a cat may not like being held because it feels uncomfortable or unsafe. If this is the case, there are some things that you can try to do to get your cat to become more comfortable with being held and possibly enjoy it.

hepper cat paw divider

How to Properly Hold a Cat

While a mother cat may carry her kittens by the scruff of their necks, being held and cuddled isn’t a typical or normal experience for cats. Therefore, being held will feel like a strange sensation to them until they get used to it.

It’s also important to note that some cats may not ever enjoy being held. This does not mean that there’s an issue with your relationship with your cat. It’s more of a preferential thing, just like how some people may not particularly enjoy receiving hugs.

Safety and security are extremely important to cats, so they must be held in a manner that helps them feel safe. This will increase the likelihood that they’ll start to enjoy being held.

When you pick up your cat, make sure that you’re holding them with two hands. Most cats don’t enjoy the feeling of having their feet dangling, so they most likely won’t feel comfortable if you’re holding them with one hand and have them tucked under your arm.

To have your cat feel more comfortable being held, place one hand on his chest just behind his front legs. Place your other hand beneath his hind legs so that his back paws can rest on your palm. If your cat squirms or jumps out of your arms, don’t try to pick them up again. You can make another attempt at a different time when your cat is feeling calm and relaxed.

man holding scottish fold gray tabby cat
Image Credit; Standret, Shutterstock

Training a Cat to Be Held

Sometimes, you can train your cat to be held. Start by sitting down and using some of your cat’s favorite treats to encourage your cat to approach you. Place a treat on your lap and give it to your cat once it has its paws on your lap. Keep rewarding your cat every time it walks on your lap. Then, encourage your cat with treats to step onto your lap until every one of his paws is on you. This sort of training can help your cat get used to you holding them while you’re sitting down by building a positive association with being on your lap.

Once your cat becomes more comfortable with being held while you’re sitting, you can try picking your kitty up and standing up. Make sure to reward your cat before you set them down so that your cat can make positive connections with being held.

Cat Breeds Known to Be More Affectionate

If you really want a social and affectionate cat, it can be helpful to get to know certain cat breeds that have this sort of temperament. Cat breeds that tend to be more affectionate may enjoy cuddling and being held more than breeds known for their independent and aloof temperaments.

The following cats have more affectionate and social temperaments and may enjoy being held:
  • Abyssinian
  • Burmese
  • Cornish Rex
  • Himalayan
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Ragdoll
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siamese
  • Sphynx

hepper cat paw divider


It’s important to know how to properly hold a cat so that it feels safe. Cats that don’t feel secure and comfortable when being held will jump out of your arms and are less likely to learn to enjoy being held. So, make sure that you use both hands to carry your cat and provide support to their back legs so that they’re not dangling in the air.

Sometimes cat owners have to acknowledge that their cats simply don’t enjoy being held. This doesn’t mean that a cat doesn’t like his owner. There are plenty of other ways that cats show affection to humans, so we just have to understand and look for the unique ways cats express their love.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database