How To Handle Your New Cat or Kitten
27 March, 2012

You just adopted a beautiful yet fearful kitten (or cat), so the first thing you need to learn is how to handle your newly beloved kitten.  It is important for you and your family to lean how to handle a cat properly.   

1.  Careful with Your Approach

First of all, don’t immediately walk up to an unfamiliar kitten or cat and pick her up.  You should get to know him or her and let her smell and check you out. Pet her lightly on the back, running your hand from shoulder to tail. Pet the top of her head, and give her your hand to smell. Speak to her in calm, soothing tones. Don’t let yourself get upset or excited if it’s not going well; the cat can sense your alarm, and will resist you.

2.  Pick up the cat with both hands

Unless the cat is a very young kitten (in which case it’s safe to pick her up by the scruff of the neck), you should pick up the cat with both hands, first putting your hand under the chest just behind the front legs (using your forearm for additional support). Then support the back feet above and behind the paws with your free hand, cradling the rear of the body so that the cat is fully supported. The key is to success is making the cat feel both safe and comfortable, and keeping her limbs in check so you don’t get scratched.

If the cat is resistant, spend some more time with her, perhaps sitting on a couch, and letting her come to you for petting. Work up to getting her to sit in your lap, and when she’s comfortable with that, try again to pick her up.

Some cats prefer to be carried like a baby, facing backward with their forelegs over your shoulders, and their hind quarters supported with your free hand. This is fine once you and the cat are accustomed to each other. Initially, however, it’s not a good idea. If the cat is spooked, she’s likely to dig her front claws into your back, and her back claws into your chest to launch away from you.

3.  Never pick up a cat by the middle without supporting the back legs

Never pick up a cat with both hands by the midsection without supporting the hind legs. This will upset most cats and leave their back paws free to scratch you.

4.  Take extra caution with feral or injured cats

If it’s necessary to handle a feral cat, an injured cat, or a cat who seems prone to biting or scratching, wear heavy duty gloves and a long sleeved shirt or jacket.  If you are unaccustomed to handling cats, you should not attempt to pick up feral or injured cats yourself if it’s possible to find someone more experienced to help you.

Often, badly injured cats should not be moved unless it’s to move them out of harm’s way (the middle of a street, for example). Then contact a veterinarian to determine whether the cat should be moved, and how best to do so.

Each cat is different and some simply don’t like to be handled. Over time, gentle petting and treats may help you gain their trust, but don’t assume every cat can be picked up safely on the first attempt. Give it time, and chances are that eventually she’ll come around!

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