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Scoop & Snuggle?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, I get the feeling that this issue is kind of a personal preference thing, but i'm curious what some people who have owned many cats throughout their lives think about this. Basic knowledge about me, I have never owned my own kitten, so I'm still a 'n00b'.

Anyway, there is a school of thought out there that you basically need to "teach" kittens to be held. A life long cat-owner and friend of my GF would say that constantly, and an article about warming up "aloof" kitties from cats.about.com also suggested the practice. Basically, you need to hold a kitten, make them feel safe and happy, until they start actually enjoying snuggling cuddling time.

So, i've been trying that with my 'lil kiten. I'll pick her up, she'll stay still for the first 10 seconds or so and then start struggling, so I'll persevere, coo reassuring things to her, pet her in her favorite spots and give her a treat before I set her down. However, she still adamantly hates being picked up, or even petted really. If she is laying down, and I go to sit next to her to pet her, she'll get up and walk about a foot away and plop down, staring at me like i'm a moron.

So i've been doing this for a couple weeks, and now when I'm in my room she'll bolt under the bed on occasion if she sees me walking in her direction. To be fair, she likes to burst out from under the bed and attack toys, so some of it is her wanting to play, and she doesn't always hide, but I get the distinct impression that she's avoiding a cuddle session sometimes.

Otherwise she can be very loving, she'll always follow me from room to room, in the morning she is extremely affectionate (the only time I ever hear the purr motor going, and get the 'kneading' action. what a great alarm clock).

I'm not looking for the world's most affectionate, needy clingy kitten, just wondering if I should continue on my 'forced snuggle' time, or just let her chill out and do her own thing, pick her up and let her down the second she starts to struggle etc.
post #2 of 17
Thread Starter 
ach, I need to take a trip on the failboat. I wasn't paying attention, this probably should have been in the behavior section. Sorreh.
post #3 of 17
How old is she?

Generally, they won't stay in your lap very long for a very long time at first. (at least in my experience)

With my Sophie, I'd wait until he got REALLY sleepy and put him in my lap and let him sleep there. Six months later, he crawls on my lap to purr and get attention and sleeps with us in our bed cuddled up every night.

The best time to get them when they're real young to show ANY affection is when they're tired, as they have A LOT of energy to burn as babies.

Good luck!!!
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
heh, very true. Currently she is about 4 and a half months old, and not spayed yet (vet said to wait until 6 mos). i get a feeling that when i pick her up, she would just prefer to be on the ground so she could pounce on invisible spots. oh well, such is kittenhood, but the kitten kisses and purrfests in the morning are nice, even if she does do it exactly 1 hour before my alarm clock goes off!
post #5 of 17
Usually I scoop and snuggle on their backs. Seems most of the boys love this and most of the girls protest
post #6 of 17
Forcing a cat to do ANYTHING is just going to cause problems.

If a cat wants to snuggle, it will come to you for cuddles.

My Ginger kitty HATES to be held. She's not a lap cat. I used to cuddle her when she was a baby, and it just made her mad. So I learned to just allow her to let me know when she wants kisses.
post #7 of 17
I did that with my two feral kittens (we got them when they were ~5 weeks and now they're ~4 months). It seemed to help them realize that I wasn't going to "hurt" them when I picked them up. I did it regularly, always praised them when they didn't struggule and sat them down when they were not struggling (i.e. they learn that they get to leave IF / WHEN they hold still). BUT, I would never hold them for very long at a time. As stated above, they have a lot of energy and would just want to go play.

That said, if they would struggle when I held them (bite, claw, etc). I would scruff them and hiss (as I assume a mother cat would do when getting on to her kittens) and they seemed to realize they were being disciplined. Note that this didn't hurt them, just held them in place and stopped the struggling. Then I would praise them when they relented and release them immediately.

So, now, I have kittens that will pretty much always allow me to pick them up and hold them (they think it's "normal") AND they will also come to me seeking attention (so I didn't tramautize them in the process). We also had another wilder kitten (same age as the others when he was found and has been adopted, praise God! ). He would really struggle whenever he was held or when I clipped his nails, but I never gave in and he ended up liking to be held, although he was VERY hyper. He also still came to me looking for attention.

I'd just stick to what you're doing and give lots of rewardx when she behaves, and discipline when she misbehaves.

post #8 of 17
All the posters have given you good information, but IMO Artgecko's is the best, as it seems very understanding and intuitive of cats -- I especially like the hissing part, and am glad to know I'm not the only human out there doing this! They do respond to it...
and the part about only cuddling until they ask to get down is good, too -- NOBODY likes being restrained and made to have contact, so I'd assume that short cuddle sessions will get 'em used to the idea, and later on, they will probably come to you when they want cuddles! Good luck! Oh, and btw, most progressive vets do early-age spay/neuter at four months -- I'd definitely try to get a vet who does this if your kitten is exposed to any kittens/cats of the opposite gender!
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
yeah, most of that makes me feel better, and what artgecko said is mostly what i'm doing. I hold her, praise her etc, and only put her down when she stops struggling. I think i'll definelty shorten the sessions so she doesn't get as worked up over it, I might try the hissing thing too.

As far as the spaying is concerned, she's an only kitty and will never see the outside world by herself. And I get a 50% discount on the operation because i did her full shots with this vet. Oh well, it's too far from my house anyway, i'm planning on finding a closer vet anyway.
post #10 of 17
I don't think you should hold a cat a minute longer than s/he wants to be held. Their personalities are highly individual, and that's what determines how long they're going to want to touch you. Forcing the cat to be held is only going to make it a negative experience for the cat and develop negative associations with you, and in that way I think it may backfire.
post #11 of 17
I agree. My female hates if I pick her up, but daily she will climb up on my lap and snooze. They all have their own preferences which we adapt to, not the other way around.
post #12 of 17
In most circumstances, I would agree to go with what the cat likes. BUT, what if:
- You have to administer meds and hold the cat to do so?
_ You have to pick the cat up and take them into another room when someone that is allergic comes over?
- Your cat gets outside and you have to pick them up and bring them inside?
If they were never picked up, then they would certainly freak out and wouldn't understand that if you pick them up they need to be still until you set them down.

There are just too many situations that might call for it (for safety and other reasons) for me to "let it slide" because they might not want to be held. It's sort of like not teaching your dog to "drop" items and then risking them chewing something dangerous and not being able to get it out of their mouth.

I also took time to examine the kittens mouths, ears, eyes, clip their nails regularly, and teach them to go in their travel crate (as well as give them baths), so now, it is easy to check their health and bathing them and putting them in their carrier is far less traumatic than it could have been.

Besides the above argument, if the cat is young, then I think that they are still quite capable of learning that being held is not something "bad". And, in the wild, I think that their mother would surely sometimes do things that they didn't like, i.e. not letting them nurse, disciplining them when they play too rough, etc, as a part of the natural learning process.

Now, with that said, if the cat is new to you, you should certainly take some time to build some trust first, before doing anything that they might deem threatening.

post #13 of 17
Your kitty sounds a lot like mine was. I always say he loves me best at 4:00am when I am comatosed.

I say continue to pick her up daily even if it is for short amounts of time. I did that with my cat and now I can carry him around -- I don't think he loves it but he doesn't struggle -- sometimes he lets out a "meow" in protest. I also think it is important to be able to handle your cat when you need to.

In my experience, your cat is in a constant state of change for the first year. Learning to tolerate being held could take until she is year old or so.

I have also read about that scoop and snuggle thing -- I don't really get how a cat will learn to love it though.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
yeah, it's more or less weighing the different sides of it. I'm not in this for a combative "I'm going to force you to snuggle" type of deal. As stated, there are other reasons why being able to handle a kitty is important. She gets her nails clipped regularly and she has learned to struggle less.

It's also obvious that she isn't necessarily traumatized by the 'scooping and snuggling', as when put down, she doesn't bolt or hide. She just sits there and looks indignant for a few minutes, wanders to a random spot about 3 feet from me and plops down. I do think, that longer sessions are more "terrifying" than they are worth, and just holding her for a few, putting her down when she isn't struggling, and rewarding her with treats for being a good girl works well. At least I'll be able to perform basic checks and claw clippings without her thinking i'm going to eat her soul.
post #15 of 17
Over the years I've had to give pills, clean ears, etc., and despite regular handling, the ones that hate being picked up still do. Then it becomes a matter of control and stealth. If regular handling (as a kitten) will allow them to become used to it, then go for it, but it's not worked for any of my cats, which just may be their personality.
post #16 of 17
I can pick up my cat pretty much whenever (there's occasionally when she won't have any of it) but the key thing for how it worked for me was to a) pick her up very often and secondly b) put her down immediately if she showed signs of wanting to go down.

So basically now she puts up with being held because she knows that if she wants to go down she can, i.e she's not a captive.

However she was a very outgoing and happy go lucky cat to start with so there wasn't ever a period of having to get her used to my hands etc. she was just an active cat that got bored being scooped up and wanted to play so multiple short sessions worked.

I can now as well carry her around held like a baby with belly exposed. She didn't like that much to begin with but now puts up with that as well and often relaxes and goes floppy (which is very cute)
post #17 of 17
I think that petting and affection are different activities altogether from giving pills or other necessary health things, and aren't even associated in the cat's mind, so you're not going to be teaching anything useful by forcing the cat to be held and petted.

When it comes time to give medication or clip nails, you focus on training for that... by doing it. If you use the proper technique for each and are calm and firm, you'll get it done.
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