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Old 02-19-2013, 05:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can you pick up your cat?

I have had two cats for about 4-5 months. She was living outdoors but not feral. They obviously like me and will come over for loving and petting. They lay on me and will even come if I pat the sofa. Yet they still seem jumpy. If I am walking fast down the hall and they are there, they scatter fast. If I try to pick up the older one, she hates it and then is spooked of me for up to hours. She claws my furniture and I want to pick her up to put her on the multiple surfaces I have for scratching but she runs from being picked up and even when I do, she is so freaked out that the whole lesson is lost. There is just something about the picking up that she doesn't like.
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Totally normal IMO. Some cats just don't enjoy being held - and those who have become used to living dangerous lives as strays or who weren't handled as babies are more likely to be among those who aren't into it. Sometimes that changes as the cat gets older and more accustomed to you, but sometimes it's just not their thing and you have to get used to just relying on other forms of giving affection.

I'm able to pick up either of my cats. Zephyr actually enjoys being held and snuggled. Maisie doesn't like it, although he loves sitting on my lap and cuddling that way. It used to be that I couldn't hold Maisie at all; now I can pick him up if I have to, but I don't do it just as an affectionate gesture because he doesn't enjoy it.

It also may make a difference how you're picking them up. Zephyr likes to be held close to my body, facing outward so he can see. If he's not held securely enough, he gets upset and wants to get down. On the other hand, if Maisie has to be picked up, he would rather be held loosely with his bottom supported and his face toward me, so he can hold onto my shirt. Sometimes it takes some time to figure out not just if your cat is willing to be held, but also what position makes them more comfortable.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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That's a good point -- not only if, but how. My first cat Rookie hated being picked up; it was like she was being tortured. I didn't inflict it on her. Then came Murphy, who's very happy to be picked up and immediately starts purring. I'm very conscious of being a good picker-upper, like always supporting his rear end, not moving suddenly while holding him, putting him down the second he squirms, and setting him down gently.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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How are they when you pick them up and place them on your lap? That might be a starting point for them getting used to being handled, very brief handling, and having some treats on your lap. Have them in a handling position as they sit on your lap, as well. Allow them to bolt if they want to. They may bolt at first, but eventually could warm up to the idea of being held if you're persistent enough. But keep in mind some cats just plain don't like it, no matter their background with people and no matter their trust in you otherwise.

I can pick up all my cats, all were once semi-feral or feral. Blaze was a feral kitten and loves being carried around, Blacky was a semi-feral cat that took a year until she'd allow me to pet her and she doesn't mind being carried around either, at first I had to get her used to the idea of being handled, it started by her realising that sitting on laps was an ok experience. She's more interested in having her front paws over my shoulder as a means of being carried. Jasper was semi-feral four months ago, in the first two months picking him up was not possible. I likely have a scar on my hand from him spinning around and biting me when I put him back on the ground... these days he doesn't mind being picked up and walked around with but would rather be put back on the ground. We're working on it... but he's come a long way.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My cats are super picky. One of them likes to be thrown over my shoulders and the other likes to be held as if they are a a tube, under my armpit with front paws on my hands. Any other way and they want to wiggle out and run away.

Sometimes they will slowly walk as I try and pick them up, never "running" just a hands length away. The best times to pick my female cat up is when shes just waking up and really relaxed. If you can maybe gently scoop them up when they are just waking it may help them adjust the the feel of it.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh I don't have to pick them up to put them on my lap. They take turns jumping on me and in bed the get on my chest. Both purr on me. Maybe the issue is that the only time I really pick her up is when she is doing something wrong or I want to move her outside or something. But she was like that from the start. Her son has let me pick him any old way from the start. He is on one leg now while I am trying to type and do work. Even if I gently push him away, he comes back until he gets what he wants.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Bella is very much how you described your older cat. I've been getting her used to being picked up and carried, though. At first it was only for very short amounts of time and not very far above the ground. I talk to her as it happens and always let her down when she wiggles. Now I can carry her upstairs and to the food dish.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Them jumping on your lap on their own is one thing... but how about you picking them up and placing them on your lap? Like, if it isn't their idea to jump on your lap do they freak out just from the act of briefly moving them from the floor to your lap?

I'm suggesting that's a place to start if they don't like you even doing that much.

I went through this process with Jasper recently. He wouldn't allow me to pick him up ... at all. If I was in a chair or sitting on the ground with my legs out he'd happily walk over and sit on my lap, so while he was close to me - but not on my lap - I'd quickly pick him up and place him on my lap. He'd be unsettled at first, but got used to it. You could also have treats on your lap. Then once he's used to that I'd do the same thing but also hold him lightly against my chest in the usual holding position. When he was ok with that I moved on to holding him while I was standing up, just very briefly, and carefully placing him down (at first he'd spin around like he was thinking about attacking so I had to be super careful when I put him down)... after a while he's become more used to the process. He doesn't stop purring when being picked up now but will start wiggling to be put down after a short while; he's not freaking out, but saying 'ok, I'd rather be on the ground', so I put him down - without fear of being attacked. Maybe in a while he'll not care at all.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I can pick up the two cats from next door and they accept it without complaint. However, our Emily, will let out a whimper to let us know she is not comfortable being picked up. She does like to be petted and will jump onto our laps if she is in the mood.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Casie didn't like being held much, but she sometimes would tolerate it. When I was younger, I would constantly pick her up. When I got older, I left her a lot a lot more.

Cherry tolerates it a lot more, sometimes she even enjoys it. When I picked her up at the shelter, she just flopped over and let me hold her with no fuss. I would not have gotten a cat who jumped from my arms when I picked it up. The first cat I was considering(very friendly cat, first one that came up to me), jumped out of my arms and scratched me when he jumped. Cherry would never scratch or bite to get away, she would only accidentally hurt me when jumping.
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