Thursday, June 4, 2020

National Hug Your Cat Day

Today is one of those days where we celebrate hugging our cats! There's nothing like picking up that bundle of purring fur to help calm the most tense of nerves. 
Paula holding persian kittens

Not all cats like to be held, so you need to take care when picking them up to caress them. Dr. Wailani Sung, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, says that "most cats enjoy being up high because they have a better view of their territory, but in many cases they want to achieve those heights on their own terms. It’s one thing for a cat to jump up on the kitchen counter or a bookcase, but being held by a person may seem demeaning to one who is a relative — albeit a tiny one — of the king of beasts. If your cat doesn’t enjoy being held, it may be because he just feels disrespected when you scoop him up. Other cats may have a related reason for resisting restraint even if it’s meant lovingly. Dr. Sung says some cats have had negative experiences with being restrained (Becker, 2017)."

Paula holding Persian, Truffle
Mom Paula hugging Brulee - 6/4/2020

Brulee is one of those cats who doesn't really like to be held unless it's on her own terms. From a kitten at 10 weeks of age, she squirmed whenever I tried to hold her. The last couple of years, she's begun to ask me to hold her. How do I know? She comes up to me in the computer room or in my bed and does a little dance in front of me and puts out the cutest little squeaky meow. I can pick her up after her little dance where she slowly inches closer to me and she will settle into my arms and emit the loudest purr. She'll stay there as long as my arms can handle her 8-pound frame. But let me try to pick her up to hold her in any other part of the house and she begins squirming immediately.

Pam Johnson-Bennett (2017), from Cat Behavior Associates, LLC, says 
"being sensitive to your cat’s tolerance levels and always have a purpose for picking her up. Your one of the lucky ones if your cat your cat loves being held. However, you should be respectful of your cat's possible insecurity if she doesn't like to be lifted up. Johnson-Bennett reminds us not to insist on holding a struggling cat with the intention of getting her to surrender or adjust because the "longer you hold a squirmy, unhappy cat, the more she’ll hate being held the next time."

Paula holding Persian cat, Truffle
Mom Paula holding Truffle


Truffle, on the other hand, has loved being picked up and cuddled since the first time I visited her at 7 weeks of age. She was so relaxed in my arms that she fell asleep with her feet totally relaxed. She will lay on her back on my legs and let me rub her stomach. She's getting a little more reluctant as she gets older because she knows when I put her on her back, I'm usually trimming her claws or grooming her belly fur.
Paula holding persian kitten, Truffle
Mom Paula holding 7-week old Truffle

Ramona Marek (2018) provides some Dos and Don'ts for picking up and holding a cat.

Don’t:

  • grab the cat head-on. Cats see this as a threatening behavior, and they may back away or swat at you.
  • sneak up from behind. No one likes to be startled, least of all cats, and you may wind up receiving your own surprise attack in return from a frightened cat.
  • pick up and carry a cat by the scruff of the neck. You may have seen a mother cat pick up and carry her kittens by the scruff of the neck. That’s acceptable between mother and kitten, but it’s not how humans should carry a kitten and certainly not an adult cat.
  • pick up a cat you don’t know or, more importantly, who doesn’t know you.
  • try to pick up a nervous or angry cat. The best way to console an upset cat is to give her some quiet time alone.

Do:

  • Always use two hands to pick up your cat, even a kitten. This provides a sense of security.
  • Slide a flat hand along side the cat’s ribcage, then move your hand under the chest, placing your hand between the front paws.
  • Your other hand slides under the backside to provide support. No dangling limbs, please!
  • Once the cat is comfortable and secure, bring her body to your chest. Keep a secure hold maintaining contact but without a tight grip.
I'm lucky that my cats do allow me to pick them up and hold them (on their terms) because they do provide a calmness that I need in my stress-laden and anxious-prone life. I want to encourage everyone to show their feline companions how much they are loved today and every day. You know your cats and know what they do and don't like. 


Resources

Becker, Marty DVM (January 9, 2017). Why Doesn't My Cat... Like to Be Held? Vet Streethttp://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/why-doesnt-my-cat-like-to-be-held

Johnson-Bennett, Pam ( July 17, 2017). The Proper Way to Pick Up and Hold a Cat. Cat Behavior Associates. https://catbehaviorassociates.com/the-proper-way-to-pick-up-and-hold-a-cat/.

Marek, Ramona (October 22, 2018). Hold Tight? Not When It Comes to Some Cats. Here's How to Pick Them Up and Hold Them. Fear Free Happy Homeshttps://fearfreehappyhomes.com/hold-tight-not-when-it-comes-to-cats-heres-how-to-pick-them-up-and-hold-them/

12 comments:

  1. Bravo for happy hugs each and every day!

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  2. Love your picking up and hugging article!

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  3. I love that photo of you holding Truffle as a kitten! You have some good tips on cat hugging here.

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  4. Picking up The PO'M means I have to plant both feet, and gird my loins...he's HEAVY! He'll endure a minute or two, then he wants down. However, he'll climb into my lap and stay there for hours...if I could sit in one spot that long.
    Sweetie is so tiny, I can slide my hand under her belly and lift her easily! She is getting used to be cuddled and held; she's really a sweetheart.
    Manny can be carried for unlimited time; I sling him over a shoulder, while The Hubby carries him like a baby. His brofur CB will only stand a moment of hugging, so I try to do it while he's got his paws on the floor. But all get smooches, that's for sure!

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  5. I love being picked up and carried! Lexy, not so much. Mommy is the only person who can pick her up, and it has to be on her terms.

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  6. Noelle is the only one who doesn't like to be picked up but she will take hugs in Mom's lap.

    The Florida Furkids

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  7. We hope you enjoyed a wonderful Hug Your Cat Day. These are some really great tips of do's and don'ts when picking up a cat. Thanks for the excellent share. Have a fantastic upcoming weekend.
    World of Animals

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  8. Sweet post. I love hugging my kitties.

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  9. Cats are such amazing creatures. Bear LOVES to snuggle - if I'm lying down, he's not far behind ... but he has to make the first move and come to me. Ellie, I can pick up and she'll start purring in seconds - unless something frightens her.

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  10. I’m lucky most of mine are pretty cool with being picked up and cuddled. I’m happy to respect those that don’t. Plush asks to be picked up. He’ll stretch up to me with his paws up for me to pick him up. Treeno’s not a fan of being picked up but he wants to be in my lap or wrapped around my head.

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