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Why do some cats not like to be held?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

Our perfect cat is the sweetest little thing ever. She loves to play, take naps on your chest, talk, etc., but the one and only thing that she whines/complains about is being held. She completely trusts us and is a happy cat. I just don't know why she wouldn't like to be held.

She likes being petted, she likes tummy rubs,'s just the holding issue. Any thoughts?
post #2 of 51
Some cats just don't like it. I guess its a personality thing. I have one cat who hates being held. Then the little one could care less. You can hold her upside down, like a baby, noting like that bothers her. But don't touch her nose. She bites everytime. The one who doesn't like to be held can be touches anywhere.
post #3 of 51
I have 1 cat who wants to be picked up, and the other one jumps down every time you pick him up. I don't know why, it just is. They are both males, both love to play and get pets, both fine. It's just the way they are I guess, it's just like how people are too. some people don't like to hug or anything, some people love it all the time.

I find that cats are like people in many ways - you gotta love them for who they are. :P

post #4 of 51
Yeah, I have a cat like that too. It is disappointing. I like to cuddle and he doesn't. I keep trying though, he is relatively young, I am thinking I can build up his tolerance. so far, very little change.
post #5 of 51
I think it also has a lot to do with how much they were handled when kittens - and whether they got used to the idea of being lifted /carried.

My 3 year old former stray gets very scared if I carry her - it's better now than it used to be - I try do little pick ups every now and then, so it's not such a struggle when I need to get her in her carrier!
post #6 of 51
My friend has 6 cats and half of them like being held while there others dont. He said its just all about there personality. Juz coz they dont like being held dosen't mean there nasty or anything its just how they are i guess but it could've had a bad experience involving holding.

Well thats all i know lol
post #7 of 51
We've had Gracie and Lizzie since they were just little things and someone was always picking them up and carrying them around, so they're both fine with it.

Elliott the newest family member was a stray and at first he didn't want you to pick him we can, but for some reason we have to be standing can't sit down and hold him...and he has to be able to see over your shoulder as long as his front paw are over your shoulder you could hold him all day.

Annabelle on the other hand will not let us pick her up for any reason.
We can only pet her if she comes to us, you can't just walk by her and reach down and pet her..she runs away.
I have no idea what kind of life Annabelle had before she came to live with us, but from the things I've noticed about her she more than likely was abused and more than likely the abuser was a Woman.
When my Husband comes home from work she runs to the door to greet him waiting for him to pet her.
But if he were to seek her out to pet her, she'd run and hide.

If I go out for the day when I get back Gracie, Lizzie and Elliott meet me at the door so I can fuss over them.
Annabelle only does that for my Husband.
post #8 of 51
Out of our cats Angel, Cozmo like to be held, Missy will put up with it, Panther and Rusty can't stand to be picked up, [at least by me] Cozmo loves for me to carry him all over the house [just like Tuffy did], Angel likes to be carried but will bite me if I put her down before she wants me to put her down. Panther is the biggest baby, he loves attention and is a real pest sometimes, He loves any kind of petting and attention other than being picked up, Panther and Rusty get so upset if I pick them up there hair comes out like crazy, I will be covered in cat hair if I pick up either one of them.
post #9 of 51
All 5 of my kittys don't like to be held. My RB kitty Chuckie loved to be held though. Winnie and Stormy like attention on their own terms (it has to be their idea )
post #10 of 51
I think it also has a lot to do with how much they were handled when kittens - and whether they got used to the idea of being lifted /carried.
If I didn't know better, I would say my Pansy was abused, the way he runs when you make a move to pick him up.

But I fostered he and his mother and three sisters from 8 weeks. All of them except him were fine with being picked up and loved. He was a schizo from day one.

Thats why I still have him, I knew he couldn't handle going to pet smart and sitting in that tiny cage for however long It would take. I just couldn't subject him to that. I would never have chosen a cat that doesn't like to be held. But his handsome good looks make up for it.
post #11 of 51
Our Dulcinea use to LOVE to be held...and would just jump into your lap and fall asleep while we pet her for HOURS...but now she (post giving birth) she does not allow it and holding (much less lap-sitting) is out of the question. She still likes to be WITH us/NEAR us...but can't stand to be held. It's very disappointing...because we became so use to holding her and petting her before she had her kittens. Now that the kittens are grown and adopted and out of the house, she runs if you try to hold her and jumps out of your lap immediately if you pick her up. I guess it's just another one of those 'cat behaviors' that one has to accept. Oddly enough...if you ignore Dulcinea...she tends to come close and rub against you...but again...if you try and pick her up and settle her in your lap---she's 'outta there' fast. Still, she's the great love of our house...and the 'princess' of our home.

fr gregg
post #12 of 51
I have no clue. And the stranger thing is that my males were cuddle cats (liked being held like a baby on their backs). The females would complain if you did that to them.

Ling likes being petted but she protests about being held/restraint all the time. She'll come sit in your lap/sleep, but don't confine her. Charlie loves being "babied"

The concept of how much they are held/carried from little on doesn't seem to matter. I've raised several litters of rex kittens and they were treated no different - yet some just were not cuddlers - mainly the females....go figure. Ling was brought in the house from the barn at 5 weeks old and held/picked up all the time. She just doesn't like to be restrained.
post #13 of 51
I can't say for sure but I think taking Panther and Rusty to the vet to get "fixed" has something to do with not letting me pick them up. We have had Rusty since he was tiny because his mom stopped feeding her kittens so the owner brought the kittens here so we raised them. [owner is step sons girlfriend]. We always held the kittens on our laps when we fed them and they liked to be held.

But like I said after there vet trip the both of them won't let me pick them up. I bet they think I am going to do something like that again to them.
post #14 of 51
Teddy rarely likes to be held.
We can hold PJ (well, I can't, my fiance' can) every once in a while. Sometimes, she'll tolerate it every day, sometimes, she won't.

Also, PJ only likes to be held in a certain way - her paws over a shoulder, always. It provides her an easy way to escape if she wants to. We think she was abused (we got her as an 8.5 year old), and is therefore extremely sensitive about being held. Teddy came from a 15 cat household and I don't think anyone had held him much before.

As an addendum, though, Teddy is the most cuddly cat.
post #15 of 51
Dulcinea use to LOVE to be held...and would climb up in your lap and fall asleep for hours while being (post her 1st and ONLY litter) she doesn't EVER want to be held...but prefers to be 'NEAR' us and put one paw on us. We just keep holding her anyway...on her back...and she tolerates this usually for several minutes...and then meows to get down. But we keep holder her that she will A. knows who is in charge...and B. so that she'll get use to it. So far it seems to be working...because we do it so often that she tolerates it more and more for longer and longer periods of time...and regardless, she always LOVES being close to us. Just a thought.

Good Luck

fr. gregg
post #16 of 51
My calico kitty is the same way! We held her all since she was growing up! The way i only get to hold her is when i hold her n let her look out the window but i have to be standing up and if i move away from the window or sit she meows at me and attacks me like shes mad!
post #17 of 51

Ritz hates hates being picked up much less cuddled/held.  I think it's partly just how her brain is wired and how she handled being abandoned early in life; every cat is different.  She and her brothers and sister were rescued from the streets when they were around four or five months old.  A friend socialized them; I helped.   Prior to that I'd never had a pet before, much less a cat.  So when I agreed to foster her, which after her first meow turned into adoption, I was a scardey cat, didn't quite know what I was doing, and didn't attempt to pick her up. 

Fast forward two years later, and Ritz sleeps with me, lays on my lap, loves neck massages, and recently has deliberately turned onto her back so I can give her a belly rub, including the area under her arms (arm pit?)  The look on her face is priceless, as are her purrs; I can live without my being able to cuddle her.

post #18 of 51

Osage didn't like to be held or petted except on his terms.  He would sleep on me, curl up next to me, "talk" to me, but didn't like to be touched.  I think it's because he was abandoned before he was 6 weeks old by his mother. 


He was a healthy happy cat though.

post #19 of 51

Smokie is overly clingy and loves to be held.


Bandit has his terms in which you can hold him. Most of the time he handles some petting and holding, but it isn't often. Just his personality I guess.

post #20 of 51
Only one of our 5 will let you pick him up and carry him. Well, actually 2, but one will only let my DH pick him up. I think it's just personality quirk.
post #21 of 51

I have 2 male cats that are brothers, one has always loved to be held.  The other one was not too keen, he would jump out pretty quickly.  After a while I realized that it wasn't that he didn't want to be held, he wanted things to be on his terms.  Cats are very independent animals, and some want to feel they are in control.  So I stopped trying to hold him and would just pet him when he would sit with me on the couch.  Eventually he would start laying on my lap when I would pet him.  Then after a while he started to stand on my lap and climb my chest, putting himself in the "hold me" position.  So I started holding him, but still noticed a little hesitation.  There are two things you can try.  The first thing is to take one of your hands and place it under her, allowing her back paws to rest on your hand.  Allow your hand to basically be a support, which gives her steady footing and helps to make her feel more secure (the same thing suggested for holding rabbits).  The second thing is to make sure you give her an out when she has had enough.  Be mindful to her body language.  When my cat wants to be held it's obvious because he lays his head into my shoulder and relaxes his body.  When he has had enough, he turns his head away from me.  As soon as he turns his head away I say "you want to get down" and I gently place him down.  When you do this, you are showing her that you respect her decisions, and you will not hold her against his will.  Also don't try to hold her on her back, many people are tempted to do this because it's cute to hold a kitten like a baby but they just don't like it.  I'm sure she would enjoy cuddling with you, but it's got to be her idea.

post #22 of 51

My kitteh, who is just about a year old, LOVED being held/pet/cuddled when she was a tot (I've had her since birth). Now? She can't stand to be touched/pet/held/etc. She growls and hisses and has a fit. Of course I have to aggravate her a little. ;)  Yet, she will curl up next to me on the couch or lay all over me in bed. What's her problem? LOL She is currently not spayed.


Her older sister, from the previous litter, was the EXACT OPPOSITE. HATED being pet/touched/held when she was kitten. Now she follows me everywhere, lays all over me and the keyboard when I'm working. Licks the crap out of me, etc. Such a lover! Often to the point of annoyance.


Anyone have any guesses as to why Kitteh #1 behaves in this manner?

post #23 of 51

If one is familiar with homeopathy, one will know that people and anymals have different constitutional types (different charracters and manners). For example one is lazy, always hungry, prefers hot weather or hot food, likes peace and hates beeng touched, another one likes cooler weather is picky on food always loving and cuddling but in 30 secs of peting bites you. So if u counsel a profesional classic homepath he could be able to determine your cats type (also your type) and give you a homeopathic remedy that releases all those sympthoms that seem to be a bit over the edge. One is healthy when hes body and emotions are balanced and in harmony. So anything that is a little bit too much is likely to be treatable. That doesen't mean that it is not normal for a cat to hate or love to be held. That means that a cat who hates to be held could get a relief of its hate and continiues with just not prefering beeng held. And the one who wants constantly to be in your arms could get a little bit more confidence of beeng on its own and starts beeng more comfortable with its own cats stuff. :)

post #24 of 51
Originally Posted by DKat View Post


Our perfect cat is the sweetest little thing ever. She loves to play, take naps on your chest, talk, etc., but the one and only thing that she whines/complains about is being held. She completely trusts us and is a happy cat. I just don't know why she wouldn't like to be held.

She likes being petted, she likes tummy rubs,'s just the holding issue. Any thoughts?

I have just accepted that this is the way it is smile.gif I have 4 cats.  The male, Ramsey, is my baby.  I can do almost anything to him and he purrs and purrs.  The 3 female cats love to sleep with me, they cuddle with me and are very affectionate but the instant I pick them up... they are insulted and want to be put back down... IMMEDIATELY 19.gif  As soon as I put them down they are rubbing and purring on my again.  I no longer question it. 


post #25 of 51
Originally Posted by gailuvscats View Post

Yeah, I have a cat like that too. It is disappointing. I like to cuddle and he doesn't. I keep trying though, he is relatively young, I am thinking I can build up his tolerance. so far, very little change.

My cat is part Siamese (very aloof breed) and she doesn't like to be held either.  However, keep doing what you are doing because that's how I've been trying to get mine to be more cuddly and she is coming around.  She is 6 months now.  She even jumps up on the neighbor's lap when he comes over and lets him pet her (she seems more prone to men than women).  I try to hold her at least 4-5 times a day, and cuddle her close every time, so that she gets use to it.  She even closes her eyes and purrs for a few minutes now.

post #26 of 51

It's all about reverse psychology with cats. Most of the time if you want to hold them and try, then they will want the opposite.  The best thing to do is to just keep yourself open and available to your cat, let him or her come to you.  This is how I got my one cat who did not want to be picked up or held to finally give in, I stopped trying.  Also and I can't stress this enough because most people don't listen to this, the way you hold the cat is important as well.  When you hold him, always make sure the cat has an easy out, if he want's to get down he should be able to do it with no resistance.  I usually hold my can up against my chest, with his back paws basically standing on my left hand, with the front of his body draped over my right arm.  This is a natural sitting position for him, and at any time he wants to get down he actually will launch off of my left hand with his back paws.  There is not a scratch or anything involved, and he feels like he has complete control of how long he is held.  Also, cats have a tendency to get spooked when their being picked up so try to bring him close to your body as quickly as you can so he feels secure.  If they don't feel secure their instinct is to extend all four of their legs out to try to get footing, even if that footing involves you accidentally getting slashed by one of his claws.  I believe they do this because when you pick them up, their instincts are telling them that they have just become prey.  After a while when he feels more in control of when you pick him up, you should have no problem.  It takes patience to build the proper trust, but in the end trust me, it is all worth it.

post #27 of 51

I agree that all cats are simply different, what one cat may like another may dislike. There is no deeper reason other then that, like humans, they all have their own peculiarities. 


But I also think cats can get used to certain things if you introduce them to it early on. I dont think its a coincidence that both my cats can be held upside down, and are so comfortable in that position that they even close their eyes, stretch etc. I think that is mainly due to my girlfriend who, for whatever reason, liked holding them as babies when they were kittens. 


And I dont think there is any cat who always wants to be held. It may also be about timing. When they are super active and feel like running around, it may not be the best time to try and cuddle. 

post #28 of 51

I don't think that any of my cats really enjoy being held but they will tolerate it for short periods. Max and Gus will sometimes lay in our laps to be petted but Lexi, who was a stray, rarely will sit in our laps...but every once in a great while, she'll "ask" to be picked up. She stand up and put her front paws on our leg. I love it but like I said, she rarely does it. Lexi likes to watch people and our other cats. She's funny because she'll pick someone and just follow that person around all day, or she'll pick one of the other cats and just follow them around...but she's not big on actually interacting with us unless its to play with us. We call her our "little stalker". haha

Speaking of suspected abuse, I think she was to some extent but not bad enough that it "damaged" her severely. She was a frightened cat when I first found her and would flinch, growl and hiss, if we tried to pet her around her head. She's still head shy but she really has improved. I think that her lack of desire for any real interaction (including being held and petted) stems from that. I just think that she'll always be this way and that's ok. She's just the way she is and we love her madly. :)

post #29 of 51

My older girl has never been big on being picked up for a cuddle, even though she was handled a lot, and lovingly of course, as a kitten. 


However she will hound me relentlessly to take her 'ghecko hunting' around the house. This involves holding her and walking around each room of the house while she surveys the ceiling, walls (including behind pictures and curtains) and ledges.  Should she spot one she will go quite rigid, look at it, look at me, look back at it etc, until I lift her up so she can reach it.


I should explain that we have a plague of Asian House Geckos which are displacing our native ones, so Nilah is just doing her bit for the environment.  

And I get a cuddle.  Sort of.

post #30 of 51

Reading this thread makes me feel "Oh, good, it's not just our cat"! 


All of our cats have been rescues...2 American Shorthairs, 1 Siamese.  They all have loved to be groomed, petted, played with, napped with...but not much for being held.  In addition to the "unknown" reasons, I often wonder how much of it is breed related?


Someday, I hope to be able to adopt a Ragdoll.  From all that I have read, they seem to be made for lap sitting!  Also, I have aspirations of raising a Therapy Cat to use with Hospice and Nursing homes.  Not anytime soon, unfortunately, but it is on my "bucket list"!


Good thread!

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