Just got a rescue cat (my avatar) in March. When I try to pick her up and cuddle her on my lap, she grips with her nails and causes puncture holes on my skin. How do I teach her not to do that? I cant even clip her nails, our vet said the only way in her case is to sedate her?

Is that the only way? Should I give her back to the rescue? We can't even pet her without being attacked. She loves to cuddle when she wants to.

  • Are you sure you understood what your vet said? It is incredibly rare to need to sedate a cat just to trim the nails, and a vet is rarely required to be involved unless there are issues like ingrown claws.
    – Allison C
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


You should try a different approach to lifting your cat. In my experience some cats simply will not allow themselves to be lifted, but a large number just has issues with how they are lifted.

I would try to, instead of lifting the cat, providing a lift for the cat. What I mean by that is instead of grabbing the cat around the midsection and lifting you put one hand under the back paws of the cat, while at the same time putting the other hand under the front paws, or if the cat feels unsteady standing like that: around the front legs (index finger in front of legs, thumb just barely supporting, and other fingers holding the chest).

What this does is give control of the lift to your cat, if the cat wants to get away the back legs are fully free for use. It also keeps the chest of the cat facing downwards and protected.

A cat that is being lifted by the former method would have to grab and wiggle out of the grip to get away, while in the latter method they simply have to push with the back legs and slide out of your grip (which is also a very safe way to put them down again without an oddly angled impact upon landing).


All cats have different personalities as well as backgrounds (when coming from a shelter, it is hard to know a cat's background). It seems like your cat just prefers to not be picked up. We adopted a cat that is this way as well. She is now, 9 months later, very cuddly and always comes to us, but she still prefers to never be picked up.

If necessary (to administer meds or something) I grab her by her scruff area, which is calming to a cat, and she will not have an issue being held, or held down, etc. I would recommend leaving your cat to come to you when she wants. All cats have very different personalities but if necessary, try to hold her scruff (back of the neck area)


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