How To Properly Carry a Cat (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Boy lifting a cat with his hands

With some knowledge, carrying a cat doesn’t need to be hard.

In this article, we will try to explain and give some advice on how to properly pick up a cat and how to carry it.

We will also split it into two categories, dealing with your own cat and a stray cat (or a cat you just met).

How to pick up and carry your cat

In general, cats don’t like to be handled too much. Some cats are better than others, but most of them will resist at least a bit. Read your cat’s body language and don’t force it if they don’t want it.

How to pick up and carry your cat in 5 steps

Step 1.

Approach your cat so that it can see you and call its name in a calm and reassuring tone.

Step 2.

Pet your cat a few times to make it feel comfortable and relaxed.

Step 3.

Put one hand under the abdomen and one under its chest, the key is to support their body evenly.

Step 4.

Start gently lifting, then hold your cat against your body so that it feels safe and supported.

Step 5.

When carrying your cat keep it cradled in your arms against your body, like a baby.

The cat should be fully supported by your arms, don’t let the legs dangle down freely.

Extra advice:

Don’t carry a cat on its back. This makes them feel vulnerable and out of balance.

Don’t come to pick up a cat from its back, this can scare them and make them attack you.

Don’t try to pick up a grown cat by the extra skin they have behind their neck, as their mothers do when they are kittens.

This is a common misconception amongst people, it can hurt them and stress them greatly.

If you need to carry a cat from one place to another always use a good cat carrier or a cat backpack.

How to pick up and carry a stray cat

Cats are always up on high alert and get spooked easily, and that is why they are always ready to defend themselves.

Be careful when trying to pick up or carry a stray cat, or a cat that you have never handled before. They can bite you or scratch you in self-defense.

You should avoid handling a stray cat if it’s not necessary. It can be done safely if you know what to do.

Step 1.

Slowly and calmly approach the cat from the front so that it can clearly see you.

Step 2.

Give the cat your hand so that it can smell you and get familiar with your scent (keep your palm closed so that it is harder for the cat to snatch your fingers).

Step 3.

Slowly put one hand under the abdomen and one under its chest.

Step 4.

Assess if the cat is resisting being picked up or is compliant. If the cat is resisting back up and try again later.

Step 5.

Start to slowly and gently pick up the cat.

Step 6.

Cradle the cat so that its legs are supported.

Extra advice:

If the cat starts to resist while you are holding it, don’t panic and just gently put the cat down.

Try again later and repeat as many times as necessary, so that the cat learns that it can trust you.

How to pick up and carry a pregnant cat

Handling a pregnant cat doesn’t differ much from the last two situations we mentioned earlier.

We should avoid picking up and carrying a pregnant cat as much as possible.

The only step that differs is:

When picking up the cat, you should slide one of your hands under its hind legs instead of its abdomen.

Lift up while supporting its whole body, trying not to put much pressure on its belly.

If the cat shows resistance. The advice is still the same, just back up, try to comfort and calm down the cat and try again.


Start getting your cat used to being handled from a young age. Everything is possible if we devote some time and effort to training our cats.

Cats can learn to like being held in your arms if they connect this action with a positive outcome, or if you make them feel safe and secure.

We hope we helped you learn how to pick up and carry your cat. If there is anything you would like to know more about, or we missed something, feel free to ask us.

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