Both kittens and adult cats make such delightful fuzzballs, it’s tempting to always be scooping them up into hugs, both as a sign of affection as well as to enjoy the physical and emotional comfort their furry presence can provide. But did you know there’s quite a variety of ways to hug your cat…and a few methods you should avoid for their safety (and to not invite being bitten or scratched)?
First off, when a cat wants affection, it is not shy about showing that desire. Cats will often signal wanting physical closeness by simply placing themselves in your personal space–whether this is leaping into your lap, putting paws on your shoulder, or rubbing around your ankles if you’re standing. Keep an eye out for these signs and don’t be afraid of returning the touch.
When picking up a cat for a hug, don’t do so by it’s neck, paws, or tail, for instance. Grabbing these areas can be uncomfortable, and potentially even hurt it or tweak its joints. Pick up their whole body, with hands under its front legs or scooping it up with hands under its belly. You might also provide extra support by cupping a hand under its hind quarters so it isn’t just dangling from your grip. Some cats enjoy being held on their back, belly up in your arms. Others, though, might not like this position, and will wriggle against it. Don’t pin them in place, but let them adjust to a preferred position.
When petting a cat rub along the direction of their fur rather than ruffling against it. Of course, if your cat likes having a particular area scratched, like behind its ears or along its hindquarters, feel free to indulge. Cats will shy away from touches they don’t enjoy, so don’t force them to endure being petted or scratched.
Lastly, cats are communicative creatures, so long as you keep an eye out for signs of what they’re wanting. Don’t chase down a cat, grab it hard, and pull it into a hug. Also, if a cat is batting or swatting its paws at a hand reaching for it, be more cautious about scooping it into a hug. It may be in a more playful mood than a cuddly one, and if aggravating might end up trying to bite or scratch the person.
So use common sense when wanting some personal time with your cat. And when in doubt, just let them have their personal space and come to you when they want one-on-one time.
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