How to Care for and Handle Cats

How to Care for and Handle Cats

Our feline physicians have compiled useful advice on how to approach, handle, and pet cats, as well as how to cope with troublesome cats. When dealing with cats, these pointers will help you be more compassionate and considerate.

How to Care for and Handle Cats

Basics of Behavior

The way your cat interacts with you and other people is determined by his personality, previous experiences, and the present situation. Shy cats have a harder time adapting to new people and circumstances and are more prone to respond nervously in new situations. Between the ages of 2 and 7 weeks, kittens go through a vital learning period known as the sensitive socialization period. Kittens learn to tolerate interaction with other animals, such as dogs and people, as well as unrelated cats, during this period. This stage is generally over by the time you adopt a kitten and bring it home. Kittens that do not experience frequent pleasant treatment by humans between the ages of 2 and 7 weeks may be wary of human interaction for the rest of their life.

What is the Best Way to Approach a Cat?

Allow your cat to make the first move and approach you while approaching him. Imagine being confronted by a 50-foot-tall colossus, and you’ll begin to appreciate a cat’s viewpoint.

You may make simple changes to look less intimidating:

  • Avoid startling your cat with loud sounds or sudden movements.
  • Avoid hovering over him since it makes you look bigger and more dangerous. Instead, please take a seat on the floor to get down to his level.
  • Instead of moving into his space, let your cat into yours.

Avoid chasing after your cat since this will make him afraid, which will negatively impact your future interactions with him.

Because you are unfamiliar with an unusual cat, approaching him is always a dangerous affair. Even though this cat seems friendly, a loud noise or movement may cause it to react aggressively toward you. When you go to someone’s house, it’s always a good idea to inquire about their cat’s attitude toward strangers. Put your fingers out for him to sniff and approach you if this cat is sociable to strangers before trying to touch him. If you are unfamiliar with an outside cat, do not approach him. This will safeguard you against any bites, scratches, and infectious illnesses like rabies and cat-scratch disease.

If this unfamiliar cat is permitted outside, the danger of infectious illness transmission must be considered before making physical contact. Rabies is a lethal viral illness that is spread by bites. Upper respiratory viruses and feline distemper (feline panleukopenia virus) are not communicable to humans but may be spread to sensitive cats at home through hands and clothing. Fleas and flea eggs may also travel on a person’s clothing or shoes.

Taking Care of Cats

When you take up your cat, he loses control, and his whole feeling of security is thrown into disarray. Some cats should not be picked up if at all possible, particularly if they are scared in a new place or are more nervous cats, to prevent more stress for him and possibly damage to you. A stiff physique, dilated pupils, ears back, and hissing or shouting out are all signs that your cat is anxious.

When you want or need to pick up your cat, you should always make an effort to provide him a feeling of security while you’re doing so. If your cat is worried or agitated, he may struggle and perhaps damage himself or you. Different cats have different tolerances for being carried by humans. If at all possible, keep handling to your cat’s tolerance level.

Instead of lifting him, use treats or toys to get your cat to go where you want or need him to go. If you need to pick up your cat to put it in a carrier or remove it from danger, keep the carrier nearby and approach your cat gently from behind or the side, rather than from the front, which may be scary. Carrier training eliminates or significantly minimizes the need to pick up your cat to place him in the carrier.

Picking up your cat with two hands is a good rule of thumb. One hand should hold his front chest while the other scoops up his rear. Reduce the length of time your cat is suspended in mid-air and give him as much body contact as possible to keep him safe. Holding your cat in a death grip can trigger uneasiness in him. It’s never a good idea to lift your cat by the scruff. Females exclusively carry kittens by their scruff in the first several weeks of life. Although some cats don’t like being scratched, many find it distressing, even if they don’t have any problems. Heavier cats may find it uncomfortable to be lifted by the scruff. You’ll be able to read your cat’s delicate body language and forecast when it’s time to put him down again if you get to know him well. Your cat may react strongly to some aromas, such as menthol or strong fragrances, and may want to avoid them.

Cats Being Petted

Despite their evolution as solitary hunters, cats are gregarious animals that create colonies (or social groupings) when resources (food, water, and shelter) are plentiful. Cats brush against one another and groom one another within a colony to enhance ties and preserve a common odor for easy identification. When you pet your cat, you participate in this activity. When your cat rubs against you, it’s easy to mistake it for a request for food. Overeating and weight gain may occur due to this misunderstanding in certain circumstances.

Most cats love to have their heads and necks stroked. When others try to pet your cat in other places, he may get irritated and even violent. When you pet a cat for a lengthy amount of time, it may get aroused. When they’ve reached their limit, they’ll typically nip or grasp your hand with their claws as a warning. The easiest way to prevent hitting that tipping point is to study your cat’s body language for subtle indications. Your cat will go completely motionless, twitching just the tip of its tail. His ears may be somewhat depressed and angled to the sides, and his back may ripple slightly. If your cat is on someone’s lap and he is already agitated, it is better to get up and walk away rather than try to pick him up.

What Happens If My Cat Is Difficult to Handle?

Cats as a species are ill-equipped to deal with conflict. Your cat will flee and hide to escape an uncomfortable event. If this isn’t feasible, your cat may grow violent against you as well! When your cat is agitated, he might be upset for hours, if not days, before settling down. As a result, it is critical to avoid causing such stress whenever feasible.

If you persist in engaging with your agitated cat, you risk exacerbating his responses. Instead, walk into another room and close the door to distance yourself from the scenario. Seeing a strange cat outside is typical for your cat feeling distressed. It’s crucial not to touch your cat in this scenario; instead, try to distract him with loud sounds or cover him with a huge blanket to take his mind off the uncomfortable situation. Take yourself and any other pets out of the room. Reward your cat’s calmer behavior with food or toys, as well as quiet praise.

If your cat is already unhappy and the situation isn’t life-threatening, it’s best to wait until he’s totally calmed down before attempting to handle him. If you can’t wait, such as a medical emergency, place two thick bathroom towels on top of each other and gently grab and wrap your agitated cat. Make careful to cover both his head and his whole body. The towels offer you protection, and some cats may even become calmer due to the cover provided by the towels.

Close all entrances to rooms and block all possible hiding spots before attempting to grab your agitated cat. For various causes, including fear, discomfort, and disease, your cat may attempt to avoid being touched and may even turn hostile against you. Most elderly cats, for example, have some degree of arthritis, which may make frequent stroking and petting difficult. Please talk to your veterinarian about this and ask for any further help you may need to ensure you’re treating your cat with respect and in a cat-friendly way.

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