Why Doesn’t My Cat Like to Be Held? – 6 Main Reasons

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

why doesn't my cat like to be held

There are many activities that you can do with your cats during your free time, such as walking your kitty, watching TV together, picking it up, or holding your furry friend.

Yet, cats are not always interested in being held. I’m sure that there are times when you have to ask yourself, “Why doesn’t my cat like to be held”.

In this tutorial, I will explain to you why a kitten doesn’t like to be held as well as how to pick up a cat that doesn’t want to be picked up:

  • It’s not natural for cats to do so: If you have ever asked yourself why my cat doesn’t like to cuddle, it’s simply because it’s not your feline friend’s cup of tea.
  • They have bad injuries or medical conditions: The fact that a cat hates being picked up can result from pains caused when you lift it up.
  • They have bad experiences: Past traumas can cause cats not to like to be held, especially if your cat is adopted.
  • Your pet feels scared: It’s possible that the cat doesn’t like being picked up as it can be intimidating to be picked up by a creature that is ten times bigger than it.
  • They feel disrespected: For cats, being lifted up means you don’t trust their ability to climb. Hence, they may want to jump up to prove their ability to do so.
  • They don’t like feeling restrained: Being cuddled can prevent cats from moving freely.
  • How to change your friend’s mind: There are multiple ways to make a cat love cuddles, such as using treats or building positive feedback.

Without further ado, let’s get started with the first section:

Why Do Cats Dislike Being Held?

1. It’s Not Natural for Cats to Do So


The answer to the question of “Why my cat hates being held” can be quite simple: it’s not how cats introduce each other. Sometimes, the dislike just lies in your furry friend’s breed.

Usually, cats greet their fellows by carefully approaching them, then rubbing their faces against each other or bonking their heads. You may come up as a predator if you try to pick the feline up.

There are some signs to tell whether your cat is willing to be cuddled or not, such as licking the pet owners, moving their tails, or following caretakers around.

If your cat avoids being held, although it used to like it a lot, there may be another underlying cause: your furry friend is injured or having medical conditions.

2. They Have Bad Injuries Or Medical Conditions

One possible explanation for why my cat doesn’t like to be held is that she is experiencing injuries or diseases, which reasons can be applied to other cats. Thus, it’s painful when you lift them up.

In this scenario, you should have your vet check your cat as soon as possible. Yet, your furry friend may still don’t want to be held as it links being held with pain. It’s crucial that you respect your feline friend’s comfort zone and don’t push it too hard.

3. They Have Bad Experiences

Although cats don’t have good memories as we do, past traumas still negatively impact them. If your cat is adopted and does not like to be held, there’s a chance that your friend was abused by the previous owners and thus disliking being touched.

Moreover, the anxiety can come from various situations different from abusive ones, such as stressful trips to the vet or being yelled at when picked up.

That’s why some cats don’t like to be picked up because when being held, cats can associate these activities with bad experiences.

4. Your Pet Feels Scared

If you wonder why my cat doesn’t like to be held, it’s because some cats get scared easily, particularly kittens. It can be scary to imagine a creature that is ten times bigger than you trying to pick you up. You can come up as a threat to your beloved friend.

Some factors also contribute to what fears your pet, such as loud noises, sudden movements, or scruffing.

It’s advisory that you not pick your feline up if they appear to be scared. Let them relax. In addition, there are some ways to calm your pets, such as keeping the surroundings quiet or giving them private space. If possible, let the feline approach you first.

5. They Feel Disrespected

The fact that the cat doesn’t want to be held can be a consequence of its feeling disrespected. Some cats just like to do the job by themselves.

If you’re doing the work for them, they might feel that you don’t trust their ability to do so. In this case, you should place some objects for your friend to climb up to your eye level.

6. They Don’t Like Feeling Restrained

The last possible answer for the question “why does my cat not like to be held” is that cats are known to be independent. Thus, you may annoy your friend because it cannot move freely when you cuddle your furry friend.

Your hug can sometimes feel like a cage to cats so that when you do so, they feel restricted. In addition, that’s one of the reasons why they don’t like closed doors.

Cats need to feel independent and in control of the situation, especially stray cats that need to move freely in order to feel safe.

How To Change Your Friend’s Mind

The hostility towards cuddles can come from various reasons. However, there are various ways to tackle situations in which your cat doesn’t like being held, which are:

  • Using treats: You can reward your friend every time it lets you pick it up. When the feline sits in your lap, pet it with a soothing voice or gently brush its fur.
  • Make your pet friend feel familiar to you: Proper introductions are needed when you approach a cat. Moreover, it would help if you only came to your cats when they are in a relaxed manner.
  • Give positive feedback gradually: Don’t rush your cat with treats or attention at once. Do this gradually.
  • Do NOT punish them: Respect your friend’s choice to be alone, and do not punish them. The more freedom you give them, the more they are willing to be cuddled.


After reading this tutorial, I hope that you will have the answer to the question “Why doesn’t my cat like to be held?” as well as how to persuade cats to like it. All you need is patience and for respecting your friend’s choices.

Have you tried some tips I have mentioned above, and how do they work? Let me know in the comment. If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family.

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