There are many reasons why they could be wary of being touched, including that they have not been properly socialised as a kitten, or that they are in pain. If your cat shows any signs of discomfort with handling, get them checked by a vet first to rule out any medical problems.
Whether your cat loves a fuss or not, it’s important to remember that most moggies like to be in control of any human contact they get so it’s best to let them come to you and give them the choice to move away if they want to.
|Try presenting your hand to your cat to see if they come forward for a fuss|
The secret to stress-free handling, for both cat and owner, is to make it a predictable and cooperative process. By giving your cat some warning that you are going to approach them, you will reduce the chance of them becoming scared.
For this, it’s helpful to have a special mat or towel that you only bring out for handling training. You can also use a special word or phrase, eg ‘touch’, that you say before each time you handle your cat, to prepare them for what comes next.
|Behind the ears or under the chin are good cat fussing spots|
- To begin training, pick a moment when your cat is feeling relaxed and in a familiar, safe environment with no distractions. Then set your training mat/towel out on the floor and sit at your cat’s level with a small pot of treats beside you.
- If your cat approaches and is calm (preferably standing still or sitting) say your chosen word, eg ‘touch’, and then move your hand to touch the cat in an area they like being touched, eg the side of the neck, for one second. To build a strong positive association to being touched, give them a treat directly afterwards.
- If your cat is comfortable with the handling, repeat steps one and two during short sessions that last a maximum of two minutes.
- Once your cat is comfortable with this, start moving your hand towards an area the cat is less comfortable with being touched. For example, move your hand from the side of the neck to the back of the neck. Again, repeat this process during short sessions that last a maximum of two minutes.
- When they are comfortable with this, you can then start to build up the duration of the handling from one second each time to two or three seconds.
- Once your cat is comfortable with this, you can then move the training session to different environments, eg on the table to prepare them for vet visits. Remember to keep using the training mat/towel.
- When you next take your cat to the vet, take the mat/towel with you and explain to your vet what you have been doing so they can work with you to hopefully make the check up a stress-free experience for everyone.
|Getting your cat comfortable with handling should make vet visits easier|
This training is only for cats who have a good bond with their owner but are uncomfortable with some areas of handling. It is not suitable for fearful cats that hide away from humans or show aggression towards them. In these instances, you should contact a qualified behaviourist for advice.
If you have any problems training your cat, take a look at our advice on the Cats Protection website or contact a qualified behaviourist.
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