Why Doesn't My Cat... Like To Be Held?

It's Not Natural

There’s also the fact that being held just isn’t a normal interaction between cats — they don’t pick each other up and cuddle. Instead, cats show affection to other felines by approaching politely, sniffing, licking and rubbing each other. Being picked up can send a different signal to a cat than the one intended by your friendly overtures.


In fact, your cat may see your efforts to hold him as an attack. “The cat may perceive being restrained as ‘I'm trapped!’ or ‘Something bad is going to happen to me!’ or ‘I'm about to be killed or eaten!’" Dr. Sung says. “Remember that cats are predators to smaller prey but are themselves prey to larger predators.” No wonder your cat struggles to get away!

This isn't true in every case, though. I always like to remind people that cats are individuals. Some love to be cuddled — think Ragdolls and Ragamuffins, who are known for flopping back comfortably when held. But not even all of those cats live up to their “ragdoll” reputation. Dr. Sung recommends being sensitive to your cat’s preferences. If you force affection on him, he can become more reluctant to interact with you.


“The cat may become less tolerant and avoid the owner, struggle after a brief moment or even exhibit aggressive behavior toward owners when they try to pick them up,” she says.

Most important, pay attention to changes in your cat’s behavior. If he normally loves to be held and snuggled, take note if he suddenly resists being held. He could have a painful medical problem that’s causing the unusual behavior. Take him to your veterinarian for a once-over to make sure he has a clean bill of health.


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