We all dream of holding a beautiful cat in our arms. One of the main attractions of owning a Birman cat is their loving personality, and most Birman cat owners will tell you that they are happy to be held by their human friends. But just how true is that?
Do Birman cats like to be held? This affectionate breed is usually more than happy to perform in the role of a lap cat. If they can’t be in your arms, they will try to be as close to you as possible. Not only will they allow you to pick them up and hold them as much as you like, but they will also bravely demand it of you.
There are, of course, like in any other things, limitations. Read on to find out more about how, when and how much to hold your Birman cat in order to get the most out of your relationship!
Why do Birman cats like to be held?
Birman cats, like many other domesticated animals, do most of the things that they do because of a combination of genetics and education. The history of the Birman breed is so long that we lost most of the details of their beginnings!
They were almost wiped out during WWII and had to be rescued as a breed and re-established by the 1960s. In order to bring the breed back from the brink of extinction, careful breeding and selection had to take place.
This means that the Birman cat has a very long history of being selectively bred to be your ideal companion. Kittens who were the friendliest, most loving and most affectionate were bred in order to promote the health of the breed as well as their appeal as pets.
Those characteristics were passed on and enhanced until we got this marvelous furball who can’t get enough of you.
Not only are they genetically designed to be attached to your hip, but they are also educated to do so from a very young age. We tend to cuddle and pet kittens a lot. This mainly happens because they are beautiful and because petting them releases positive chemicals in our bodies that make us enjoy it.
They allow us to do so because it feels good for them too. The warmth of our bodies, our breathing, and heartbeat, and our smell all make up the signature that a Birman kitten reads as being “family”.
They feel protected and safe, and our laps are an ideal place to nap quietly. Considering all of that, it’s no surprise they love being held!
How do I correctly and safely hold my Birman cat?
Like in any other situation in which you’re dealing with an animal, respecting them and caring for their health and safety has to come first. Before you can spend time with your Birman cat, why not learn the proper way to hold her?
It can help you avoid any accidents that might injure your cat, and it can also prevent you from doing anything that might get you bitten or scratched.
Things you should do:
- Approach from the side. Never startle her by grabbing her from behind.
- Give her a few pets on the side to make sure that she is calm and happy to be around you.
- Place one hand under the cat’s chest. This helps to keep her chest slightly higher than her behind and gives you more stability. For a longer cuddle session, many cats enjoy tucking their front legs in, instead of letting them dangle down.
- Place one hand on your cat’s behind. Gently lift both hands.
- Keep your cat pressed to your chest whenever possible, without squeezing too tightly. The added security and warmth of being pressed against your body will keep her calm and happy.
- The first few times you hold your cat, try to do so sitting down on the couch or a comfortable chair, rather than carrying her around the house. It will help both of you get used to this activity.
Things you should absolutely avoid:
- Do not hold her for longer than she feels comfortable. If she squirms and wants to jump down, absolutely do not restrain her.
- Never under any circumstances grab her limbs, squeeze her waist or squeeze her neck to try and hold her steady. Especially instruct any children in the house about this point.
- Do not pick your cat up by the scruff, especially if the cat is an adult. They are, by that point, too heavy to be carried in that way. Besides, humans can’t do it properly the way a mother cat would.
- Try not to drop your cat from a great height. She might try to jump down, but if you can, anticipate her needs and set her down gently.
Why do some Birman cats not like to be held, and what can I do?
Most Birman cats love a good cuddle, but if yours for some reason just won’t sit in your lap, it’s not the end of the world. The first thing you need to do is figure out exactly what the problem is, and this process should start with a visit to the vet.
The vet can help you rule out any mechanical problems such as back pain, paw pain, sore stomach, or anything else that might prevent your cat from enjoying being picked up.
If your cat has a clean bill of health, it’s possible that she had some negative experiences in the past while being held. This is especially the case if you adopted an older cat, or if there are children in your household which may have accidentally hurt her.
This negative experience may even be something as seemingly harmless as being held by the scruff roughly by the vet when given shots!
A cat that seems to regularly avoid being picked up will probably need to slowly be re-introduced to the fact that it can be a happy, pleasant activity. Start by spending time sitting in a safe space that your cat likes, like on the couch or on her favorite windowsill.
Keep a box or bag of really delicious, high-value treats nearby, and try to tempt her to come close to you. At first, you should reward even for just being in the vicinity of your lap. Take this process very slowly and be patient.
Cats take a long time to forgive you if you mess up! It may be days before you get her to even just stand on your lap for a second, but be sure to reward heavily when that happens.
The key to reassuring your cat that being held is a positive thing is patience and consistency. If you consistently reward her and make sure that every experience is consistently good, it’s only a matter of time before your Birman cat will return to her natural cuddly instincts.
You also have to do your best to make sure she never again has a negative experience while being held.
When should I worry?
Even if your cat never warms up to being held, that’s no reason to worry. Perhaps you just have a cat who is naturally more independent.
It’s important that you are always able to pick her up safely anyway, and that she doesn’t lead you on a half-hour chase around the house every time you want to take her to the vet. Beyond that, however, it’s better to just let go if you think you are distressing your cat more than you are helping her.
However, if your cat normally likes to be held, and is suddenly avoiding you, that’s definitely a warning sign. Jumping away or even scratching or biting you when you try to pick her up can be a sign of serious physical distress, and should immediately be followed by a visit to the vet.
Cats won’t often come and complain to you if something hurts, and many of them tend to want to retreat and hide until they get better. However, in many cases, they won’t get better as quickly or at all unless they get medical attention.
If your normally cuddly cat is avoiding being touched, make it a point to check and see what’s going on.
Are Birman cats friendly? Birman cats tend to be friendly not only with their human family but also with other cats, dogs, and various pets. A Birman cat won’t really thrive as an “only child” and would benefit greatly from having the company of other creatures around it, especially when you’re away.
Can Birman cats be left alone? Unlike many other pets, Birman cats will never really enjoy being left completely alone. Of course, it can be done, and they can be happy in households where the owner works full -time, but it is generally considered better if they have the company of other pets or family members in this case.
Especially if you are a working person, you should read more on leaving Birman cats alone here.