If you clicked on this article at some point in time you must have wondered “Why my cat doesn’t like to be held”. All you ever wanted to do was just pick your furball up and shower it loves and cuddles. So why don’t they?

The most common reason why your cat doesn’t like to be held is that it is an unnatural form of affection that your cat is experiencing making it hard for them to accept it. Another reason is that cats love their freedom and by your act of picking them up they might feel threatened or restricted and thereby resorting to fleeing.

So, does this mean you will never be able to hold your cat? Absolutely not! There are many ways in which you can help your cat to adapt to being held. But first, let us get a clear picture of where this behavior is coming from.

Why Does My Cat Hates Being Held? Is This Normal?

Is It Normal For My Cat Not Wanting To Be Picked Up?

Your cat not wanting to be picked up is absolutely normal. Most of the cats are shy or do not have enough social interaction with humans while some are too dignified to be picked up by a mere mortal. Ultimately it all boils down to the personality of your cat.

Some are more friendly and cuddly while others are shy, timid, proud, or scared and do not want to get picked up as it is a breach of their security.

Fortunately, with some patience and the right steps, you could make your cat more adaptable to you and your love.

What Does It Mean When Your Cat Doesn’t Like To Be Picked Up?

Your cat not wanting to be picked up could mean a lot of things. However, some of the most probable meanings could be your cat is feeling threatened, feeling restricted, being in pain, not being used to it, or not using proper technique.

Many associate cats not wanting to be held as a sign that they might not like you, but this is simply not true. Our way of showing affection is completely different from theirs.

It is only natural for us to express our love through physical touch. However, your cat’s way of showing and reading love language is very different from yours.

For them being picked up and held is an unnatural form of affection. Cats usually feel comfortable when all their paws are touching the ground as this makes them feel secure. 

Picking your cat up activates fight or flight mode for them. According to them, they are the prey and all those years of evolution are telling them to run.

Although you can’t undo the effects of evolution overnight, it can be done through various steps and loads of patience.

You might like to read about why won't my cat let me pet her

Why Does My Cat Perceive Me As A Threat?

Your cat could perceive you as a threat because often cats associate you picking them up as taking away their freedom or restricting them or forcing them to do something they do not want.

For example, you hold your cat when: –

  • Your cat is at the Vet getting its shots.
  • You don’t want them to go to certain places which may be harmful to them
  • Someone visits your house, who is scared of cats
  • You are giving them a bath

Cats hate it when they are being restricted even though you are doing it for their good. All these are perceived as a threat to them.  Most felines need a sense of security that they are in control of the situation.

So, if your cat is feeling restricted in your loving embrace, it will do everything to get free.

However, with enough time, patience, love, understanding, and rewards you can make them get used to your love and embrace.

4 Other Reasons Why Your Cat Hates Being Held!

Other reasons why your cat hates being held are, your cat’s breed, negative experience, it’s not a natural way of greeting the feline or your cat might be sacred.

4 Other Reasons Why Your Cat Hates Being Held!
  • Breed: – Some cats like being held more than others. Ragdolls are one the most easy-going breeds. Most of them love it if you hold them. Whereas on the other hand Bengals, Persian and Abyssinians don’t like being picked up or cuddled. So, your cat not wanting to be held could boil down to their breed.
  • Negative experience: – While studies show that cats unlike us, do not form and remember memories but positive and negative events have a huge part to play in your cat’s behavior.
  • Unnatural greeting: You might have noticed cats usually don’t tend to pick other cats up when greeting them. The cat’s way of greeting is different. They tend to approach with caution, sniff their fellow cat, rub against one another and give each other little headbutts. So, you picking your cat up might make them feel that a predator is attacking them. So, it is natural for them to run away.
  • Scared cat: – It’s only natural for any living being to get a little scared when being picked up by a creature that is ten times bigger than them and cats are no different. It could be terrifying for your cat to suddenly be picked up resulting in them fleeing.

The best action here is to let your cat approach you rather than you going after them.

Also, find out why does my cat not want to be touched

How To Pick Up A Cat That Doesn’t Want To Be Picked Up?

The best course of action to pick up a cat who doesn’t want to be picked is by giving your cat time, having patience, rewarding them, making them feel comfortable, and petting them in their liked spots can come a long way.

How To Pick Up A Cat That Doesn’t Want To Be Picked Up?

The main thing that you want to do is have your cat associate happy and good feelings with being touched and being petted and stroked.

This usually takes time and is a gradual process and eventually over time you are going to have a non-affectionate cat or even a stand-off or fearful cat become a friendly, happy, and sociable cat. That will love to sit with you and snuggle with you in your arms and lap.

Just like us, every cat has a different personality so some will adapt and accept getting picked up faster than others.

One key point that must be kept in my is that never force your cat to do something that they don’t want to.

As this will only result in further complications. If your cat is being forced to be held, they might even start running only by the sight of your hands, and your taking them to their next visit to the vet might be dreadful.

Must Read: How To Hold A Pregnant Cat? Do Pregnant Cats Like To Be Held?

How To Train A Cat To Be Picked Up?

You could train your cat to be picked up by making your cat comfortable around you, staying calm around your cat, giving them treats whenever you pick them up, and approaching them slowly.

Things you could do to make your cat adapt faster are: –

How To Train A Cat To Be Picked Up?

1. Make them feel comfortable around you

The first thing you need to do is that you want your cat to be around you. Unlike popular beliefs, cats really do like having company and being around people, they don’t always like to be bored and they are not really as independent and standoffish as most people think they are.

So first of all, you want your cat to be able to enjoy your company. That’s when you are not touching your cat, you just want your cat to like being around you.

Sometimes it is enough for a cat to be in the same room and not be touched or just sitting next to you.

2. Remain Calm

The second thing you want to do is remain calm around your cat. Cats are very good readers of body language and could easily sense if you are anxious or overly excited around them. Causing them to not like being picked up.

3. Approach Slowly

You need to walk slowly so that your cat does not feel threatened by your sudden and quick movements. So be calm and move slow. Also, avoid eye contact with your cat as it is a sign of hostility.

4. Let them take initiative

Let your cat come to you. You don’t want to force your cat to stay with you, you want your cat to be able to come and go as they please. Never chase your cat or hold them down.

Also, avoid squeezing or hugging your cat too tight that they can’t get out.

Instead, make it comfortable around you so that they want to stay. You could also place a bed or a comfy pillow near your workstation or where you usually stay relaxed and calm.

5. Make them accustomed to your touch

Once your cat becomes comfortable you could start touching them in their favorite spots. All cats have the same spots that they like to be touched, these are because they have scent glands in these areas.

Their scent glands are on their face, under their chin, on their cheeks, and on the spot between their eyes and ears.

6. Associate Petting With Food

Right before you feed your cat you can give them a little scratch behind their ear or a quick little pet for 30 seconds of a rub or massage and then give them their food.

This helps them associate getting food with having pets and they like their food resulting to like being touched and held eventually.

7. Reward Them

After all of the above steps, you can try to put your cat on your lap and immediately reward them with a treat for being in there.

At first often your cat will grab the treat and run away eating it somewhere else and that is completely normal. Over time if you keep doing this they will stay in your lap for long periods.

You can tailor these steps according to your cat’s personality and tolerance level.

How To Hold A Cat That Doesn’t Like To Be Held?

The simplest yet most efficient way to hold your cat that does not like to be held is to constantly give them treats when they are on your lap or arms and by not force the issue too much.

This will help your cat to associate treats with being held and over time the time they stay on your lap will increase as they will notice that this brings them their favorite treat.

This process would require lots of patience and love to gain your cat’s trust. So be prepared for a grind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to worry about my cat not wanting me to pick her up?

Ans. No, there is no need to worry about your cat not wanting you to pick her up as it is natural for cats not to want to be picked up. Unless your cat does not have a medical condition that is causing this.

My cat won’t let me pick her up. Does she hate me?

Ans. Your cat not letting you pick her up in no way means that she hates you. As cats show their love in multiple ways by purring in your presence, asking you to pet them, playing with you, and much more.

Do cats have a favorite person?

Ans. Yes, cats do have a favorite person. They could be very picky but mostly it is the one who feeds them, plays with them, pets them, and spends the most time with them. You need a lot of luck and effort to come into your cat’s favorite person list.

Final Words

We all have great expectations of what our cats could be or what we want them to be. Training your cat to sit on your lap or being held could absolutely be done, but it must not be forced.

As we want our cats to be their most individual best. Try all the steps and tricks mentioned in the article and if your cat still hates being held, then don’t sweat it too much. It’s who they are.

Appreciate and love the one that you got, instead of making them something they are not.

Your cat is absolutely Purrrfect!!!

For any more questions or queries be sure to leave them in the comment section.


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