How to teach your cat to accept being handled?

How to teach your cat to accept being handled?

Unlike dogs, most cats are much more difficult to handle when it comes to hygiene or grooming. Gradually teaching our little felines to be petted, carried, and touched with your hands is essential, even for a courtesy visit to the vet. By getting your cat used to being petted early on, gentle way you will avoid sometimes painful scratches and bites from the cat who feels in danger and chooses to attack because he cannot escape. Discover with us the different steps to help the cat to accept being handled.

Make the animal aware of handling from a young age

For our independent and sometimes suspicious little felines, being handled or petted can become a source of stress. Very early on, the kitten must be carried and cuddled to consider our attention as a benefit and not as a source of disturbance. If the first part of this awareness is the responsibility of the breeder, the owner must continue to pet and handle the cat so that he accepts more easily to be touched on the neck, the belly, behind the ears, and even the claws, the paws or the tail. By accustoming him to touching or handling the sensitive areas of his anatomy with gentleness and respect, your little companion will show himself more docile for every care that you will be led to provide to him.

When the cat is older, routine care such as brushing its fur or clipping its claws will prove much more problematic if it has not been used to it. The best thing is to arm yourself with patience and to resume, step by step, an approach made of wisdom and great gentleness.

3 Steps to Getting Your Cat Used to Being Handled

Whether he is an adult or a baby, you will need to gain the trust of your “velvet paw”. A kitten who is often curious will often be easier to educate than an adult cat who already has his temperament and habits well established.

1 – A gentle first approach

Before even carrying out a treatment or manipulation, it is necessary to put your cat at ease. To do this, call him and let him come to you. Pet him and congratulate him when he comes and present him with the objects that will be used to perform the treatment: a brush, toothbrush, nail clippers, cotton pads, and bandages. Reward him again and let him go back to his business. The goal is not to perform the treatment, but to familiarize him with the objects that you will be using.

2 – Desensitize the feline

Here again, the goal is not to perform the treatment or manipulation, but to reassure him for the big day. Always gently, mime the gestures that will be necessary. For example, you can gently hold his head and raise his lips to mime the steps of brushing his teeth, and bring out the claws of his paw for a future cut. Don’t forget to congratulate and reward your cat every time. Pay close attention to your cat’s signs of discomfort. Don’t force anything and if he shows fear or stress, stop everything and start again later.

3 – Start treatment

After several training sessions without performing any care, it is time to start the care. Prefer a moment when your cat is lounging and calm to perform them. Perform each gesture gently, do not rush the animal and remain attentive and responsive to any discomfort reaction. It is best to stop the treatment in progress if possible. So, if your cat is eager to stop the claw-trimming session, let him go and resume the treatment later in the day or the next day.

Each step should be short and the repetition recurrent so that the feline gets used to its rhythm. As soon as the manipulation is finished, never forget to reward your cat with a treat, a caress, a play session that will allow it to release the tension. When the cat is more difficult to handle, the burrito technique will allow you to perform many treatments.

Adopt the burrito technique

For the adult cat who has not not used to being manipulated or simply refuses the care essential to his health, restraint will be preferable. To do this, equip yourself with a towel and prepare everything necessary before going to get your cat. Place him on the thick, soft towel and gently wrap the towel around his body without tightening it too much. Our cats hate feeling trapped and a towel that is too tight will harm their comfort and care. Be careful to only let the head out and that no angry paw can get out of the towel! Practical for cleaning your cat’s ears or eyes, the burrito technique allows you to free the front or rear limbs one by one to trim the claws.

By proceeding step by step, gently, it is possible to accustom the cat to the handling of the health professional who will see him each year for a consultation. Simulate the visit to the veterinarian by touching different parts of your cat’s anatomy and rewarding him for his calmness. Practicing this exercise several times a week will not reduce the stress of going to a veterinary office, but will make it easier to examine your four-legged friend.

How to properly hold a cat to care for it?

Most cats have a very negative experience of being squeezed. They feel trapped and can therefore use claws and teeth to get out of this very unpleasant sensation. When medical reasons require treatment where he is in your arms, it is better to learn to hold him without squeezing him while another person performs the treatment. When possible, spreading the steps of the treatment over several times is also more effective than immobilizing the cat for too long. Finally, when your cat is not used to being handled, the burrito technique remains an ally of choice.

How to hold the cat properly

To hold a cat properly so that it does not move, start by wearing it well. To begin, you must learn to approach him without frightening him. Position yourself behind him or to the side while speaking to him gently. He will feel less surprised or attacked. Take the opportunity to stroke him on the head or behind the ears if he likes it. Then, place one hand under his body, at the level of his front legs, and place your other hand under his hind legs so that they do not swing in the air. Lift him gently and place the cat against your chest. If necessary, place the hand that was held between the front ones on his neck if he moves during the treatment and only if he moves. If he moves too much, let him go by placing him gently on the ground. You will avoid a bad fall for your little companion.

Easily practice care

Carrying out treatment with a feline, no matter how docile, in your arms is not the ideal position for you or your “velvet paw”. If possible, sit on the sofa or your bed and place your cat between your legs. It will be much easier to clean ears, eyes, and wounds or change a bandage in this more comfortable place for him and you.

What mistakes should be avoided to get your cat used to being handled?

Independent, very sensitive, because its skin is covered with numerous sensors, the cat can quickly tired of manipulation or experience great displeasure at prolonged petting. Be alert to signs that your cat has had enough and may well start scratching if you insist. When he impatiently wags his tail, bristles his fur or hisses, it is time to stop the interaction or care. Other mistakes will make it more difficult to handle a cat :

  • Present yourself in front of him by staring at him before grabbing him. A frontal presentation is interpreted as a challenge by your feline. At best, he will turn his back on you and run away, at worst, he will refuse to be picked up in your arms and will defend himself.
  • Carry him like a baby on your back. If the cat does not easily let you stroke his belly, it is because he is protecting his internal organs. Felines who accept this caress have great trust in their owner. And when you carry your cat on his back in your arms, he feels vulnerable. He could try to defend himself and this position ensures perfect control of his paws and claws. If you have to perform treatment, prefer the upright position, with your paws wedged in one of your hands, and the cat’s body wedged against you.
  • If a mother cat carries her kittens by the scruff of the neck to move them or calm them down, this technique only lasts for a short time. An adult cat is far too heavy to be lifted by the scruff of its neck. In addition to the animal hating having its paws dangling in the air, the consequences for its health can be serious and even cause internal bleeding.

Getting your cat used to being handled requires patience, regularity and constant repetition so that the animal integrates it into its routine. As soon as it arrives in your home, it is crucial to pet it, handle it and carry it while taking care to respect its tolerance threshold. In the event of illness, injury, or routine care, your little companion will let you do it more easily and you will be able to take care of it with complete peace of mind.

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