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Home » Why Doesn’t My Cat Like To Be Held?

Why Doesn’t My Cat Like To Be Held?

September 14, 2023

If you’ve ever felt like your cat’s just not that into you, it might be because they are just not into being picked up or held in place. In fact, it’s quite common for cats to not enjoy being held, it’s a pretty unnatural experience for them in general. 

Think about it this way; when would a cat ever get held in the wild? 

So let’s talk a bit more about why they don’t like being held, and what you can do to “correct” that feeling. 

3 Reasons Your Cat Doesn’t Like To Be Held

There’s probably a hundred different reasons for a cat to hate being held, but we’re going to stick to the “big three” here. And we’re going to base this off our own experience with our cats, because none of our cats seem to appreciate being picked up or held.

They Are Feeling Pain

We’re kicking things off with this because it’s generally the most obvious. For Pima, we are sure he hates being held because he’s in pain. He’s got bad legs and is constantly taking CBD for pain. When we pick him up, he gets pain in his legs. In fact, when we pet him and touch his lower body he gets pain in his legs. So we can understand his discomfort. 

Now, for you cat owners, that pain may not be so obvious. Cats are great at hiding and masking their pain, so make sure you are vigilant with your cats. If you see them struggling to sit or walk funny, it could be a sign that they are in pain. 

One of the most common things cats will do when they are in pain is hide someplace quiet and dark. For us, our cats crawl under the bed when they’re in pain. Identify those “safe spaces” for your cat and pay attention to how often they go there. It shouldn’t be often unless something is up. And that something could be the reason they hate being picked up. 

Not Used To It

This one is probably the most common reason cats don’t like being held. We’re going to lump both Yaki and Yavapai here. There’s a study that shows cats who don’t get cuddles in the first 2-6 weeks of life are more averse to it later. Now, we’re not sure we really believe that, but it’s been made pretty obvious that some cats like it and some cats don’t. For reference, both Yaki and Yavapai spent plenty of time being held when they were in their first few weeks of life. 

Expanding our view beyond just our cats, Idil’s cat Tarchen was not a cuddly cat in his younger years, but as he got older he became more and more “needy” for it. And we have countless examples of cats on the street that run up to you just begging to cuddle. 

So let’s leave this one as “not used to it” as we have a lot of hope you can make your cats used to it with some patience, persistence, and reward systems. 


Here comes Naz. The traumatized cat that can’t stand being touched unless she initiates it. But this is true for many cats. These ideas of cats being a little “moody” come from somewhere, and that’s because they can be very moody. This could be from past traumas. 

For Naz, we respect it. She grew up on the streets, and we don’t know what she’s been through. What we do know is that if she senses we’re moving towards her to even think about picking her up, she’s gunning for it. But if it’s on her time, she’s going to crawl right up to you and start cuddling you. But she will never allow herself to be picked up. That we know for sure. 

So How Do I Get My Cat To Like Being Picked Up

Now that we’ve exhausted all the reasons cats hate being picked up, let’s talk strategy for getting them to not despise it so much. 

Slow And Steady

Of course, as with all things cats, nothing happens all at once. They are moody creatures, and not known to just “do” things. So first off, be sure to practice patience. And we mean a lot of patience. We think it could take years for cats to learn to like being held. 


Similar to teaching a cat it’s name, teaching them to be held involves a rewards system. They need motivation to “deal” with you holding them. So bring out the treats and be sure to reward them after holding them, even if they were squirming around the whole time. 

You can also try to calm them with CBD, but this may be more of a reward for you then them. 

Hold Them Properly

Your cat may be afraid of being held by you because you’re dangling their feet, or crushing their ribs. Be sure to learn how to pick up a cat before going in for cuddles. The wrong grip might be the reason your cat keeps running away from you. 


In conclusion, there’s a lot of things to look out for to better explain why it is your cat seems to hate when you pick them up. Be conscious of the “big three” and actively work to help them solve it.

Use treats, take it slow, and get a good grip on them when you try to “train” them. But most important of all, try to make it enjoyable for both of you. And good luck! We know it’s no easy task, but small improvements over time will help in the long run. 


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