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Hi,
we have three cats, Gemma, Coco and Jazz.
Gemma you can pick up fine, she makes a funny noise when you do it (!), but she sits happily in my arms and doesn't claw me to death.
Coco, you can hold her like a baby and she purrs louder than the TV!
But Jazz, who is probably the most affectionate of the 3 in that she always jumps up and sits on our lap, is terrible! As soon as you pick her up (and I know the correct way to do it), she struggles like anything. All 3 are 13 years old. Will she eventually get used to being held, the more we do it (obviously, we are not going to do it all the time, cos that would distress her), or is she set in her ways now?
I fear the latter is true!
 

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By picking up, I assume you mean just that, and not trying to scruff them correct?

Make sure you are supporting under the chest, and the hind legs when you lift them, do not just life under the abdomen, or the "armpits".

My main concern would be to rule out any physical pain which might be causing her discomfort when you pick her up.
Speak to the vet about this. If here is pain, of course you'll want to try and treat it, and just avoid picking her up that way, or at all.

Otherwise, yes, some cats just do not like the sensation of being lifted off of a surface, or being held.

One of my past foster cats could not stand the sensation of even jumping onto something, or raising her paws off the ground besides to walk, let alone being held or sitting on your lap. It was a very long process to work with her through this, but sometimes it can be done.
 

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Some cats just don't like being held or confined. Pepperpot is the same way...she will jump on the lap for major snuggles, but as soon as you pic her up she gets all stiff and tries to get away. Sometimes it is a personality issue, or maybe they were held too often as kittens and they felt confined.
 

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Sugar loves being held but Twinkie hates it sometimes. He used to really hate it b/c he would squirm and try to claw the heck out of you to get you to let him go but everyday I would hold him regardless a little bit and eventually he got used to it. I cannot ever hold him in my lap, has never been a lap cat only in the car, but for a few minutes only. I can hold him now without him squirming. If he knows he did something bad and you try to pick him up, he will go crazy. Hes not a snuggle bunny like Sugar but when he wants to cuddle sometimes he will not stop, no matter what even if I were to spank him lightly he will go crazy like he has to hug and lick and go crazy! :p
 
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