Many owners liken their cats to children. They love to take care of them, cuddle them, and provide a safe environment for them. Cat moms and dads often talk to their pets in a high-pitched, childlike tone while others enjoy scooping up their cats and cradling them like a baby.
It’s OK to carry a cat like a baby if it is well supported and has no spinal injuries. Most cats don’t like it, though. This is because it’s a restrictive holding method and can conjure up feelings of past trauma in rescue or abandoned cats. It can also be uncomfortable. However, affectionate cats who love to be close to their owners will often enjoy being held belly-up – even if only for a short while. If your cat starts to squirm or becomes agitated, you must put your pet down immediately.
Before cradling your cat, you should assess its personality. If your pet is independent and aloof, it will likely fight back. Cats with childlike, placid characters are more likely to allow you to pick them in this way.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Is it Okay to Carry a Cat Like a Baby?
- 2 Do Cats Like Being Carried?
- 3 Why Does My Cat Like to Be Held Like a Baby?
- 4 How To Properly Hold Your Cat
- 5 Alternative Ways to Carry a Cat
Is it Okay to Carry a Cat Like a Baby?
Owners can carry their cats like a baby, but only if done so safely. There’s a proper physical technique to follow to keep them safe. There also needs to be a trusting relationship between the owner and the cat beforehand. Without this, your cat might freak out and become nervous around you.
To carry your cat like a baby, gently pick your pet up, place it on its back, and securely cradle it in the crook of your arm to keep it steady. If your cat becomes agitated or starts to struggle, put it down. It may begin to correct its position or even lash out to release itself from your grip, leading you to become marked or scratched. This means your cat has had enough.
It’s important to remember that some cats will never enjoy being picked up in this way, despite how often you try. If your cat becomes stressed while behind held on its back, don’t push it.
Risk of Physical Harm
Picking your cat up and placing it belly up gives it easy access to your face. If your cat becomes aggressive because it wants to get down, you’re putting yourself at risk from becoming scratched. Not only will this hurt, but the marks will be on display for everyone to see, which could be problematic in your everyday life.
If your cat has a painful spine, carrying your pet like a baby will do additional harm. This carrying technique requires strong spinal support. If your cat has suffered an injury or is feeling fragile, you might make it worse and cause pain or discomfort.
Felines are hard to read. Before attempting to pick your cat up like a baby, try the slow blink test to see how affectionate and trusting your cat is feeling at that moment. It’s best to avoid picking up a cat who is not in the mood for it, or you might end up getting hurt. It might also take your pet a while to forgive you if you choose the wrong time to pick it up.
Relax your face and blink very slowly at your cat. Don’t stare at your cat, though – keep your eyes soft and relaxed. If your cat returns the love by blinking slowly back, it is ready to be gently picked up. If it doesn’t return the blink or instead becomes riled up, it’s best to wait until your cat is feeling calmer. Before its usual bedtime, when it is feeling tired and dopey, is an excellent time to try.
Do Cats Like Being Carried?
Whether or not a cat likes being picked up comes down to personality. Certain breeds, like Ragdolls and Ragamuffins, enjoy being picked up and held. Cats that are affectionate and docile will love sitting in their owners’ laps and won’t mind having a cuddle.
Other breeds, including the Russian Blue and American Wirehair, are fiercely independent and prefer to be left alone. They will begin to wriggle and squirm the moment they’re picked up and may run away once they’re placed back down. Cats with this kind of temperament are unlikely to change. Reasons why a cat might not like being picked up include:
Cats Are Easily Scared
If a cat is easily startled, picking it up might cause unnecessary stress. It can be scary for a cat to be scooped up by something much bigger. In response, the cat might run away and hide under a bed or other small space, where a human can’t reach it.
In the worst cases, a cat might become more fearful of noises or sudden movements, which can lead to a whole host of problems, including furniture scratching and soiling around the house.
Cats Dislike Restraint
While a human owner might mean well, cradling a cat like a baby may cause the cat to feel suffocated. If it cannot get away or move freely, there’s every chance it will panic. Cats, whether naturally independent or not, will feel trapped – especially strays or rescue cats.
You’re Disrupting Your Cat’s Instincts
Most cats like to jump or climb to high perches for themselves. They’re expert jumpers who have refined their skills over thousands of years of evolution. Many cats don’t appreciate being picked up as it disrupts their instincts and takes away their independence.
Cat Has a Troubled Past
Rescued cats sometimes come with a troubled past. If their owners were abusive or they had a rough life living on the streets, their sad history might make them fearful of being picked up.
But it’s not just cats who have a had sinister past that can be wary of being held. Even one bad experience of being dropped can trigger feelings of stress. Some cats can be re-trained to start to enjoy a cuddle, while others will never overcome these negative feelings.
It Doesn’t Feel Natural To Your Cat
Being plucked into thin air isn’t a natural feeling for cats. It might also unlock deep subconscious feelings of being taken by a predator, which might lead to trust issues or even feelings of trauma.
Cat Is in Pain
If a cat is hiding an injury, picking it up will make it worse. It might alert you by meowing in pain or scratching you to let it go. Once it associates the action of being picked up with this pain, it’s unlikely that the cat will let you do it again.
Why Does My Cat Like to Be Held Like a Baby?
Some cats enjoy the comfort and warmth. Affectionate cats that like to be close to their owners will also love the closeness that this type of holding maneuver can bring. Cats that have been handled from when they were a kitten and who have enjoyed being picked up are more likely to enjoy being carried – some cats simply love to be babied.
While it’s rare to find a cat who allows itself to be babied by its owner, they do exist. Trust is essential, too. If a cat has built a healthy level of trust with its owner, it will feel more comfortable when it is picked up. It may even play along in pretending to enjoy the hug, even if it wants to get down.
Also, cats are very intuitive and can pick up on human emotions. A study published in Animal Cognition found that cats behave differently when their owners smile compared to when they frown. Owners who smiled more were more likely to purr, rub against their owners, and spend more time close to them.
If you want to try a belly-up hug with your cat, try smiling and displaying other positive emotions to encourage your pet to play along.
Does My Cat Think It’s a Baby?
It’s explained in PLOS One that owners should treat a cat like a young child. Some pet owners might take this advice a bit too seriously, which can lead to their cat adopting childlike traits and bad behaviors. Being held like a baby will, therefore, become a part of a cat’s normality.
But while cats understand that a human is not its mother, they show us affection and respect in a similar way to their mothers, displaying behaviors that some humans mistake for baby-like traits.
Kittens, in particular, rely on the interactions of those around them to help shape their personality. If a cat’s owner treats it like a baby from a young age, then its nature may develop to enjoy affection and attention. It might also want to be close to its human more so than a cat who isn’t used to this kind of human interaction.
So, while cats rarely see themselves as a ‘baby’, their human owners may do. And this is why many cat owners try to treat their pet like a child – forgetting that their cat might not appreciate the hugging and fussing.
How To Properly Hold Your Cat
When it comes to holding your feline friend, there is a proper way to handle them. When approaching your cat, you should support it by placing one hand under the animal’s chest and the other under the abdomen. This allows your pet to feel comfortable while reducing the risk of injury.
Squish your cat into your body to keep it close. Move your hand to create a platform for your cat’s paws to rest on. This will keep your pet feeling safe and secure while preventing it from breaking itself away from your grip. It makes the hold more comfortable, too. However, your cat might find it comfier to sit over your shoulder instead.
Your cat might not stay put for long. But even if the cuddle only lasts for a few short minutes, you can still build a secure connection with your pet.
Things To Do
- Make sure your pet is comfortable. If it is starting to become agitated or aggressive, put it down straight away.
- Keep your cat’s body weight supported by firmly supporting its chest with your hand.
- Support the hind legs and feet with your hand – don’t leave them to dangle.
- Hold your cat close to your body to help it feel more secure.
Things Not To Do
- Turn your cat belly up if it seems vulnerable or stressed. Many cats don’t take to being cradled.
- Pick your cat up if it is suffering from a spine injury, as you will likely make it worse.
- Squeeze or trap your cat. A firm grip is fine, but don’t go too tight.
- Resist if your cat starts to squirm. This is a clear sign that it wants to get down.
Alternative Ways to Carry a Cat
If a cat doesn’t enjoy being carried like a baby, accessories can be a preferred choice with many cat owners instead. Some include:
If you wish to step outside with your cat – maybe to go for a walk or to help anxious cats become less stressed about the outdoors, a baby sling offers plenty of support. Some cats prefer this option to being placed in a cat carrier when heading to the vets.
To prevent your cat from being anxious about the sling, get your pet used to it. Don’t hide it away in a closet – have it out for your feline to sniff and explore around two weeks before you plan to use it.
Many cats won’t take to a cat sling. They might feel too restricted or stressed by the experience. Sometimes, traditional cat carriers are best.
Some cats love to be held so much that a baby carrier is sometimes a good option. They fasten to a person’s chest and clip up at the back, leaving your cat strapped into the arm and leg holes while facing forwards. Inquisitive cats enjoy being able to look out at their surroundings without feeling too trapped.
Carrying a cat in a baby carrier is usually for the owner’s benefit. Most cats, unless they are placed in one from a young age, will become scared and anxious by the experience, and will struggle to understand why they are seated in this way. These feelings are heightened if they can’t see that you’re behind them.
A baby stroller can offer a safe alternative for your cat to roam, especially if your cat is old, sick, or injured. They’re great for indoor cats, like Persians, who don’t often get the chance to go outside.
Cats face many dangers outside, including cars, other cats, and people, to name a few. Strollers allow cats the opportunity to discover new places without the dangers that come with outdoor life.
Strollers will appeal to cats who enjoy watching the world go by. Again, they make a suitable cat carrier replacement for cats who are anxious or nervous about being enclosed.
It doesn’t hurt to try this holding move with your cat – unless it is suffering from an injury, particularly of the spine. Most cats will squirm and wriggle out of the hold, at which point it is time to put your cat down.
Other cats might enjoy this position and will allow you to cuddle them in this way. Take note of your cat’s demeanor and if it becomes stressed, you know it’s not the right cuddle method to use.