Here’s the right way to pick up a cat, according to the world’s most helpful vet

Cats can be adorable and cuddly companions, but as anyone with a cat knows, they can also be extremely tricky to hold. In fact, holding them the wrong way could get either you or your cat hurt.


However, veterinarian Uri Burstyn makes the whole thing look like a breeze in a video seen over 2 million times, published on his channel Helpful Vancouver Vet.

To start with, he recommends something all cat people know well – letting the cat sniff your hand before interacting with it.

This will help the cat adjust to you, and you should use curled fingers, so that the cat doesn’t chomp on them in case it isn’t interested in hanging out.

“If you’re just approaching a cat to just pat them and have fun with them, you have to remember that cats can spook very easily, so you kind of want to take it easy with them,” said Burstyn in the video.

“They’re also much smaller than us, so a light touch will normally pay off with a cat.”

He also explains a really easy way to make sure a cat can be held down without getting stressed. It sounds weird, but if you firmly squish them down, they find it comfortable.

“If you’re trying to hold a cat down, whether it’s to trim their nails, or give them a pill… squish that cat,” he says in the video.

“Cats come to me in the clinic and they’re quite afraid, you can just gently squish them and they’ll sit there and not hurt themselves.”

But when it comes to picking up cats, that’s a whole another set of rules.

Burstyn recommends to pick up cats to make them feel supported. In the video he puts one hand under the chest and one hand under the abdomen – don’t just let the back legs dangle unsupported!


Another way the video recommends is called the ‘football carry’. This sounds pretty crazy, but it’s more safe and secure than you’d think.  

Basically you scoop up the cat backwards, holding their butt towards the front, and their head under your arm.

This keeps the cat secure, and in a position that won’t hurt the cat or you, but is probably not recommended for all everyday situations.

Burstyn also explains the correct procedure for hanging out with a ‘shoulder cat’, although he notes that not all cats like this kind of carrying method – don’t attempt this with strange cats or you risk getting a back full of claw marks.

And for our less cooperative feline friends, veterinarian Sophia Yin demonstrates the correct way of catching a loose cat with a towel.

We’ll be right back – we’re off to test the football carry on our house cats.


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