There’s no better way to spend a rainy Sunday than to watch movies while cuddling with your kitty in the lap. Unless your cat is like my Okica. I have to admit, Okica is no lap cat. She almost never comes to sit on me and if you pick her up, you have 5 seconds to put her down or she’ll wiggle out of your arms like a squid. She loves to be around humans all the time, head bump us and other cute things cats do to show affection but sitting in my lap for hours is definitely not on her to-do list anytime soon.
Why won’t my cat let me hold her?
Here are a few most common reasons that explain why some cats don’t enjoy spending time in our arms and laps.
Being held is not natural to cats
In the wild, cats greet and show affection to other felines by gently approaching, sniffing their butt and rubbing each other. They never pick each other up (that would be cute though) so it is just not something they are used to or that comes naturally to them.
They are easily scared
Cats don’t feel comfortable being restrained. Even if your intentions are good and you only want to cuddle and snuggle your cat in your loving arms, they don’t see it that way. In their eyes, they are losing control and can no longer move freely so they freak out and claw their way out of our hug.
Negative past experience
Previous negative experiences have a lot of effect on the cat’s behavior. If your cat was a stray or someone else’s cat before, they might have been treated badly which made them fearful of being held and restrained in any way.
Sometimes, the fear can come from necessary situations such as being held at the vet while getting their shots or at the groomer while getting their nails trimmed. Our kitties have no idea what is happening there so they might associate being held with negative situations.
The cat is not used to being picked up
Cats who lived their entire life in a home with no affection and who were never held by their previous owner, aren’t used to it so they might need some time to adjust. If their new home provides a lot of love and snuggles, the feline will learn to trust their human and eventually might even allow you to hold her.
You’re loving on them too much
I know it’s so hard to resist those cute eyes and fluffy fur. But if you annoy your cat with too much loving, cuddling and holding, they might start avoiding you when they anticipate you’re about to pick them up. Try to refrain yourself from expressing so much love to your cat and their reaction might surprise you! Don’t force affection on your cat, instead wait for your kitty to want cuddle time and let them come to you for once.
Make your cuddling sessions gentle and under their terms so the kitty knows they can expect their wishes to be granted. When they don’t want more cuddling, stop petting them and let them go their ways. After a few pleasant cuddle sessions, they might start approaching you on their own for some sweet snuggles.
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You might be holding them uncomfortably
Have you ever thought about the way you pick up and hold your cat? Could it be that your cat is uncomfortable in your hug? Try to be as gentle as you can and provide a solid support with your arm so they don’t slide down. One mistake many people do is hold the cat on her back as if she was a baby. Most cats don’t enjoy being held like this and might even scratch your face while their legs are pointing up. You can read more about the proper ways to hold a cat in this post by a cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett.
A medical condition
If your cat was always a big fan of being held and cuddled in your arms but they no longer tolerate it, there might be a medical condition to worry about. Sudden changes in your cat’s behaviour are always something to examine further. Cats don’t just change overnight for no reason. The cat might be in pain while they’re being held. If this might be the case, take your cat to the vet to get them checked out and to make sure everything is alright.
How to motivate your cat to let you hold her?
Everything we do to improve the relationship with our cat and grow trust is based on one thing – making the kitty feel better.
If your petting, cuddling, holding makes the kitty feel good, they’ll want more of it, simple as that. But the tricky part is how to show the cat that cuddling and holding her can be a positive experience? Some things you can do are:
- Invite your cat to sit on you by putting a few treats or some catnip on your lap. Don’t force them to sit on you, instead wait until them want to do it on her own.
- Give your cat a few delicious treats while they’re in your lap – reserve extra tasty treats to give them only when they’re in your lap or while you hold them
- When your kitty finally sits in your lap or lets you hold her, try to resist their cuteness and don’t smother them with love because, chances are, your cat will find it overwhelming and try to escape once again. Be calm and gently pet the kitty so they would enjoy as much as possible.
Good luck with turning your cat into a lap kitty! It will be a long process but worth it in the end! Don’t get disheartened if your cat won’t go near your lap or won’t let you hold her even after you tried every possible thing – some cats, like my Okica, are just not meant to be lap cats and prefer doing their own thing. And that’s OK. We love all kitties, no matter what their purrsonality is like 🙂