Some cats are definitely captive cats and enjoy all forms of petting, from belly rubs to cuddles. On the other hand, some pet owners find that their beloved cats don’t seem to need any physical contact at all, actively avoiding petting and cuddling, and jumping away if they try to hold them.
Being picked up is not a natural behavior for cats, and many cats don’t like it.
Some reasons cats may not like being held include poor socialization, feeling restrained, fearful or painful.
Other ways to bond with cats include playing with them, grooming them, or petting them tenderly.
Cats are notoriously aloof, but why do some cats who seem to be very attached to their owners still fear being hugged? Having a cat who doesn’t like to be hugged can be disappointing when all we want to do is love them and cuddle them, but it may help to learn more about cat behavior and what we can do to strengthen cat owners’ relationships with cats. Cats with ties that don’t like to be touched.
Let’s take a look at the main reasons cats might not like being picked up and held.
Cats never greet another cat by hugging each other. They tend to use trills, friendly cat body language, smells, and rubbing their heads, cheeks, jaws, or bodies against each other to express friendly greetings.
Being picked up is not a very natural feeling for cats. In fact, it’s more like being pounced upon and picked up by a predator, and some cats are less tolerant of these emotions than others.
Also read: How do cats hunt?
2. Lack of socialization
As kittens, cats go through a very important process called socialization, in which they learn what is normal and part of a safe environment and what is not. A cat’s tolerance for touch and restraint can be influenced by their early life and whether human contact, being held, and physical contact is established as an active and normal part of daily life.
Poorly socialized cats tend to be more fearful and stressed in new situations than cats who experienced a wide range of sensory input at a young age.
Also read: Why does my cat hate other cats?
While cuddling is a lovely thing to do, it still reduces a cat’s options for fleeing when frightened. If your cat hates being held, it may be because they see it as a bondage and are eager to reassert their independence and move to a location of their choosing.
This is common among stray dogs, who are less likely to give up control of the situation. It is also present in cats who have had a negative experience of being incarcerated, such as rescue cats or cats who have undergone stress surgery at the veterinarian.
Also read: Why is my cat not cute?
4. In their own way
Cats like to perch high, often choosing to sit on the back of a chair or other vantage point where they can quietly observe their territory. You’d think this would cause them to actively want to be picked up, right?
However, your cat may feel disrespected by being picked up when they would prefer to choose their own location. Provides plenty of cat-accessible perches high up and at eye level, your cat will quickly find them and enjoy them.
Also read: 8 Ways to Help a Frightened Cat Become Confident
Some cats are more afraid of cats than others. If your cat hides during sudden movements or loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks, they may just be a sensitive soul.
Cats who lack self-confidence may not like being swooped down and picked up by creatures much larger than them. Cats who are a bit anxious may wish to seek love on their own terms in a more confident and friendly mood.
Also read: 10 Subtle Signs Your Cat May Be Sick
Some cat breeds are known for being more affectionate than others, while others are known for their more aloof and independent natures. For example, many Ragdolls like to be cuddled and held, while Bengals generally do not.
Also read: 5 Important Facts to Remember Before Getting a Bengal Cat
7. Medical Conditions
Does your cat protest when being picked up or picked up? Do they respond poorly to touch, or even hiss or bite? These could be signs of a health problem, such as pain or discomfort. Cats are very good at hiding pain and illness, and sometimes a change in behavior is a key sign that something is wrong, especially when the change happens suddenly.
If your cat used to love to snuggle but is now hiding, or has begun to respond poorly to being touched or held, take them to the veterinarian. Conditions such as arthritis can cause pain. This may cause behavioral changes, but pain can be relieved with medication. Your veterinarian will be the best person to advise on this, so make an appointment if you’re concerned.
Also Read: Best Veterinarian-Recommended Cat Food: Top 6 Brands Reviewed
How can I get my cat more used to being held?
Some cats just don’t like being held, but some are just not used to it, and some careful practice may increase your cat’s tolerance and help them enjoy it. Start by gently stroking their sides and back, and create a positive experience with treats and compliments. Then you might progress too slowly, picking them up for a short time before letting them go and giving them tons of praise.
Holding a cat properly takes some practice. Always use both hands and don’t leave their legs unsupported. One hand is usually placed under their chest to support their front end, while the other hand holds the rear end and hind legs firmly. Hold the cat to your chest so they are safely in your arms.
Slowly increase the amount of time your cat is happy to be held. Keep calm, move slowly and gently, and give plenty of rewards. Don’t force the issue — if your cat clearly doesn’t like the process, gently put them back in place and focus on bonding with them through treats, play with toys, or gentle petting.
Also read: How to play with cats safely, according to cat behaviorists
Bonding with an Uncute Cat
If your cat just doesn’t like being picked up and cuddled, you can still have a loving and affectionate relationship with them. Some cats don’t like the confines of being cuddled, but prefer to sit next to you and be petted quietly. Others love to be groomed and will happily sit and purr while you brush them.
If your cat is really against physical contact, invest in some good cat toys and encourage regular play, along with some treats. All cats are individuals, and once you figure out what makes your cat tick, you can play to their strengths.
If you have a cat who doesn’t like being held, we hope these explanations help you understand why. If your cat doesn’t like cuddling, there are plenty of other ways to bond with them. If you really need them to put up with being held, take some time and gently practice acclimatizing them to this behavior.
Also read: 13 of the cutest felines that love to cuddle
frequently asked questions
Why doesn’t my cat like being picked up or held?
Some cats and cat breeds like to be held less than others, and being picked up is not a very natural behavior for cats. Some people really don’t like it, usually due to low socialization, a protest against restraint, fear or pain.
Can I train my cat to like being held?
Some cats don’t like being picked up and held, and it’s important to respect that and not push their tolerance. However, with time and patience, lots of gentle treats and rewards and praise, gradually transitioning to short, calm cuddles can change some cats’ minds!
What do you do when your cat doesn’t like being held?
Being picked up and held is not a natural behavior for cats, and many cats do not like this behavior. Try bonding with your cat in other ways: play, grooming, and treats. Lots of gentle handling alongside treats and praise can help your cat enjoy it more.
Why is my cat not cute?
Some cats (and some cat breeds) are not as cute and affectionate as others. Some cats like to show their love in other ways—try playing with or grooming your cat, or letting them sit next to you and pet them.
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