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How to Handle Your Kitten in the Right Way

Updated on January 26, 2011

Think about how we like to cuddle our cats and pick them up. Cats that do not live with people would never be in a situation where they are lifted off the ground and made so very vulnerable in this way. Holding cats can be alarming and very stressful for them. A cat's natural reaction to any threat is to try to get away from the situation fast. Therefore, it doesn't like to get itself into a situation where its escape is prohibited. Holding cats is restraining them, and they have to learn that this is not threatening and that they are not in danger. Thus, handling, stroking, and picking up are all important lessons of kittenhood. We also have to make sure that we get it right.

Some kittens are happy to be handled and enjoy being stroked and picked up. This depends both on their genetic makeup and how used they are to handling. Like small children, their attention span may be quite short, and while they will tolerate some handling, they will wriggle to get away and do something else, not enjoying too much confinement. Others may enjoy playing but do not like to be handled. Still others may not be people-oriented at all and may let you know that they are very unhappy about being picked up, and with close contact in general. Whichever type of kitten you have, forcing the issue is not going to work. Slow and gentle encouragement may eventually work, depending on the kitten's background -you can only try! Confidence is very important, so the way you approach and hold the kitten will influence how it looks forward to or avoids such attention in the future. Always be firm, gentle, and confident about your approach. Pick up your kitten by scooping it up under the chest area with one hand while supporting its hindquarters with the other. Carry the kitten by keeping your hand under its chest with your fingers between its front legs, then close your arm into your side so that the kitten's weight is supported by your body. Your other hand will then be free to hold its head, stroke it encouragingly, or even hold it by the scruff of the neck in an emergency.

Some kittens enjoy being on their owners so much that they climb up their legs or jump on them as they pass. This is very flattering and quite amusing, but usually quite painful, especially when the kitten gets heavier and its claws become sharper - it can also ruin clothes pretty successfully. Some kittens enjoy traveling about on their owners' shoulders — no problem if you are happy with this. If you do not want your kitten to leap on you as you pass, you will need to lift it off quickly, walk away, and not give it any attention at all - this is what it is after. If it does not succeed this way but gets lots of attention when it approaches you gently on the floor or when you are sitting down, it will soon choose what type of action to take.

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