How To Hold A Kitten: Dos and Don’ts

Holding and handling a kitten must be done gently. Their small bodies can get injured easily if manhandled or played at my kids. So you ask, how to hold a kitten? For starters, you should watch out for your grip. Keep it loose and carry the kitten on top of your hands. Also, never lift the kitten by holding its arms or tail. You should always support the rear as much as you hold them by the upper body.

Below, I discussed this topic further so you can handle your kitten properly.

how to hold a kitten

How NOT to hold a kitten

Before we begin with the right way of holding a kitten, I think you should know first what NOT to do:

how not to hold a kitten

  • Holding the kitten even if it doesn’t want to. Although kittens are small, you should still respect what it wants. Forcing it to be held will only make the interaction loathsome. This is something you should avoid, especially if you are raising your kitten to be cuddly.
  • Don’t hold the kitten on the scruff. Scruffing refers to the manner of holding a kitten by the loose skin at the back of its neck. While mother cats do this, experts suggest that you should avoid doing so. Scruffing will cause stress and fear. This is the same reason why mother cats will only use this hold when transferring a kitten.
  • Please don’t hold the kitten on its first week. One of the biggest mistakes you could do is holding or touching the kitten on its first weeks. This will upset the mother, which will either push the mama cat to transfer the litter or reject it. As much as possible, leave the kittens to the mother cat for at least four weeks.
  • Don’t lunge over a kitten. Kittens will be scared if you try to loom over them, much so if it’s a stranger’s cat. Always kneel so you will be almost at the same level as the kitten. This will reduce the threatening vibe that may drive a kitten away from your hold.
  • Lifting the kitten by its upper body. Here’s one thing pet owners are guilty of. Many of us hold kittens under its two front legs. What happens is that their lower body gets dragged by gravity. This is very uncomfortable and dangerous for giant cat breeds. You’re basically pushing the kitten’s upper body to carry the rest of its weight.

How to hold a kitten without being scratched

Proper handling is one of the first things I taught my kids when we brought Watson home.

He was just a little orange tabby that weighs roughly 13 ounces.

And as per conversations with my kitten’s vet, it turns out that a lot of kitties end up in emergency situations because of poor handling.

And if you don’t want to end up with scratches, here’s how you should hold a kitten:

How to hold a kitten without being scratched

  • Read your kitten’s body language. Before you hold your kitten, make sure that it’s relaxed. Holding a kitten while it’s agitated may worsen the stress. Try to pet and calm your kitten down before cradling it on hands and arms.
  • Cup the kitten with your hands. Using your palms, scoop the kitten under its stomach. Do this gently, then use your other hand to support your kitten’s both feet. This is the way to hold a tiny kitten.
  • Support the kitten’s body. For older kittens, make sure that their rear is supported. Cup the kitten just the same, then use your other hands to hold its bottom. This will prevent the kitten’s body from hanging loose, which is uncomfortable and could cause injuries to the kitty.
  • Don’t grip. Sure, kittens are cute, but you should never squeeze them while holding. Just hold then loosely, ensuring that their body parts are well supported. Squeezing will hurt the kitten, which will cause it to squirm and claw your skin. Also, this will associate handling to a negative experience.
  • Cradle like a baby. If your kitten wants to be carried around, you can use the ‘baby cradle’ if it’s getting bigger. You basically cradle the kitten on your arms, while ensuring that it doesn’t fall off.
  • Trim the claws. Before you hold your kitten, make sure that you trim its claws. This will prevent painful scratches should the kitten becomes playful or objective of the handling situation.


How to hold a fat cat

How to hold a fat cat

Fat cats are big and heavy, so they require additional support. To lift the chubby kitty, place one hand behind its front legs, so you’re supporting its chest.

Next, use your other hand to scoop its rear. Make sure that the cat’s body is even – not slouching or stretched out. Also, keep the chubby cat close to your body for additional support.

Another technique is to carry it like a baby on your chest. You basically hug your cat on one shoulder while supporting its bottom with one hand then another on its back.

This is comfortable, and most cuddly cats like this position. Learn more here why does my cat hate being held

Remember that these are the only right methods of holding and carrying a fat cat around. On another note, being overweight isn’t healthy for a cat or a kitten. Try to slim down the cat so it will not be susceptible to health problems.

How to handle newborn kittens

Remember that holding a newborn kitten is a no-no unless it has been rejected or abandoned by its mother. However, if there’s a need to do so, you should be gentle and careful. Newborn kittens can’t move too much, and their bodies are incredibly fragile.

Like the method, I discussed above, cup the kitten from its tummy. Usually, newborn kittens can fit on your palm, so it doesn’t need additional support from your other hand. Still, you should never drop the kitten.

Remember that if the mother cat is around, you should leave the newborn kittens alone. The smell of your hand will attach to the kitten if you hold it too early. It won’t sit well with the mother cat. You may end up being scratched by the mother cat, too.

How to restrain a kitten without scruffing

Many cat owners I’ve talked to consider scruffing as the only effective way of restraining a kitten. Sure, it has a stopping effect, but it’s not comfortable for the feline.

With kittens, less is more. If you want your kitten to stay in place, you have to train it as early as possible.

A kitten that’s used to being held will not squirm or fight back when carried around properly.

If you need to stop your cat from clawing, you can wrap it on a clean towel. It’s like swaddling a baby, but avoid making it too tight. Also, let the cat retain its chosen position so it will be comfortable with the towel on.

How to hold a kitten when bottle-feeding

The way you hold a kitten when carrying it around is different while bottle feeding. When feeding the kitten through a bottle, you should let it stand or settle down on its chest.

Never hold a kitten with its stomach up because it will cause the formula to backflow to its nose. This will lead to pneumonia that can compromise the life of the young kitten.

If you need to stimulate the kitten, hold it on its body with your other hand stimulating and supporting its rear.

Also, never hold the kitten on the scruff because it will be impossible for the feline to swallow. You should let it suckle on the bottle on its own.


Knowing how to hold a kitten is one of the essential skills a pet owner has to learn. Although it may not seem important, the way you hold your kitten will affect its overall health, much so if it’s a giant breed. You should always support its lower body as much as you’re holding its upperparts.


Written By