This article first appeared on iCatCare here.
How we handle cats matters. It matters to cats, to ensure that handling is enjoyable, consensual, and not distressing. It matters to us, as we ultimately want cats to enjoy interactions with us. For both cats and people, it is important that all involved in an interaction are benefiting from it and feel safe – both physically and emotionally.
Just like all of us, cats have feelings and it’s our job to always approach and handle them kindly and respectfully to prevent causing negative emotions. For more information see our infographic page on emotional distress.
Cats’ individual experiences and learning, their temperament, their current state of health and mental wellbeing, and how they feel at a particular moment in time in relation to the context they find themselves in, can all influence how they perceive our approaches.
Our approach to cats should always be mutually beneficial, i.e., we should not simply handle them because we feel like it, but rather let them instigate the interactions, and decide how and for how long that handling continues. Let’s be led by our cats!
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I am the feline behaviour specialist at feline charity ‘International Cat Care’. We are about engaging, educating and empowering people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.