Never Do These Five Things to Your Cat – The Hand Edition

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There are loads of general lists from cat experts and veterinarians about things you shouldn’t do to your cat. But I want to get very specific here, and address something that has a direct impact on your relationship with your cat: your physical interactions.

Physical contact with your cat is the your most direct form of communication, and the one that sticks most strongly in your cat’s memory. So what you do (or don’t do) will inform your cat’s opinion of you, and the way they think of you. The way you touch your cat, and your intent, will create a close and loving bond…or it could cause your cat to avoid you. It could even traumatize your kitty.

Somali cat giving high five to human hand

I know if you’re here, you want what’s best for your cat, and you want a happy, healthy bond with them. So avoid the following:

1. Never force yourself on your cat

Cats are tactile creatures who love affection — on their own terms. You may want to cuddle your cute kitty, but this overwhelms most cats, and they feel like they have no control. You will have much better success in earning your cat’s trust and love when you let them set the pace with petting and cuddling. Watch for subtle cues that they want more, like headbutting, and leaning into petting. And when you get the cues that they’ve had enough — you can feel them stiffening up or getting squirmy — please let go. Less is more, and your cat will appreciate that.

2. Never play with a cat with your hands

Men are more likely to be guilty of this faux pas, but it does have its female aficionados. Either way, it’s wrong because it teaches your kitten or cat that your hand and arm are toys to shred at will. And once they get in the habit of it, it’s a hard one to break. So just don’t start. Instead, of letting your cat chew or scratch your appendages, give them catnip stuffed toys to attack at will when they’re feeling that kind of frisky.

3. Never throw your cat off the counter, or any other forbidden surface

Always remember, you are at least 10 times the size of your cat. You are a giant who could do great physical harm to them without much effort — and they never forget that. So even if your cat has jumped onto that forbidden surface for the umpteenth time, don’t angrily toss them off like a used rag. At the very least, it will make them view you as a threat. At the very worst, you could physically hurt them. Suck it up and be gentle. And if you really need that counter to be cat free, put them in another room and shut the door.

4. Never carry your cat around with their back legs dangling

This is extremely uncomfortable for your cat, and will discourage them from wanting to be handled by you. Always carry your cat with their back end fully supported, or by draping them over your full forearm and holding them tightly to your body, like a football. The latter is how my human used to carry me to the rings when I was in competition at cat shows.

5. Never use your hands to punish a cat

I shouldn’t have to say this at all. Research has proven that corporal punishment is bad for children, and it’s bad for cats too. As I mentioned earlier, you are much, much bigger than your cat, and it’s terrifying to have something that big angrily putting their hands on you. Even if you think you are just tapping them lightly on the behind or the nose, your cat does not see it that way. They see someone who is posing a danger to them, someone who they don’t want to be around. It can turn them into anti-social, neurotic, and unloving creatures. It can cause lasting damage that is difficult to undo.

Cats don’t understand right and wrong the same way that people do. They just understand that some things that they do, humans think are okay. And other things that they do make people turn into scary monsters. It’s that basic. Punishment is the worst and most ineffective way to change a cat’s behavior. Encouraging opportunities for good behavior, and making bad behavior more difficult to accomplish will have better results.

Somali cat with paw on human hand

I hope you aren’t doing any of these things! Or if you have in the past, you already know better. But please do spread the word because there are a lot of people out there who don’t know these! If you have any stories, good or bad, about handling cats, let me know in the comments.

Here is more info to help you get to know your cat better:

Never Do These Five Things to Your Cat - The Hand Edition

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