Learning to catch a kitten safely and carefully is critical. These animals must learn to deal with human contact from an early age, as this facilitates socialization in adult life. If you need to pick up the pet to put it in the transport box to take it to the vet or to get it out of a dangerous situation, do so so that it relaxes and holds it all over its body. Pay attention to the pet's body language when holding it and try to reassure it. Below you will also find tips on how to deal with bites and scratches, as it is important not to encourage this type of behavior.
Part 1 of 4: Handling Newborn Puppies
Step 1. Wait until the kittens are two weeks old to handle them
Unless absolutely necessary, don't pick up kittens early in their life, as Mom will be extremely protective at that age. Also, little ones are more prone to infections and illnesses.
Wash your hands and wear gloves before picking up kittens, and only handle them when really necessary
Step 2. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after picking up newborn kittens
It is important to do this cleaning before and after handling. It's also good to use disposable gloves to pick up pets.
- Wash your hands under clean running water and rub them with soap for 20 seconds. Remember to rub the backs of your hands, the spaces between your fingers and under your nails.
- If you have young children, have them wash their hands before handling the puppies as well.
Step 3. Be considerate of the feline mom
Even if you know her well, know that she will be very protective of the puppies. Keep an eye on her when handling the little ones; if she seems uncomfortable or aggressive at any time, try to calm her down with a calming voice. The idea is that picking up puppies is a positive experience, and the mother's nervousness can end up affecting this in a negative way.
Many people believe that the mother will reject the puppies if they catch the scent of a human, but this is an urban legend. Even if she looks worried, she won't reject the puppies just because you handled them
Step 4. Grasp the puppy with both hands
Place one hand under his chest to support him and support the other under his hind legs and buttocks. Even if it is very small, it is still important to hold it with both hands, as this creates more comfort and safety for the animal, creating a positive association.
The kitten may struggle, especially if it has never been caught before. In this case, speak to him in a relaxed tone of voice, without putting him back down immediately. If you let go of it when it struggles, you send the message that it can slip out of your hands with a little uneasiness
Step 5. Hold the kitten close to your chest
After picking it up, use both hands to bring it to your chest. This way, it will feel safe and you will be able to have a better and more comfortable grip. Puppies are fragile and you must avoid falling at all costs. Continue to support it with both hands when holding it.
- Caress and relaxes the kitten throughout the process. The idea is that he has a good experience with you, as this is very important for his socialization.
- Be aware that the pet will likely be nervous when picked up for the first time. Get ready for some light scratches and to hold him while he struggles.
Part 2 of 4: Dealing with stray kittens
Step 1. First of all, analyze the situation carefully
Found a litter of stray cats? Before acting, observe the situation, as your actions will depend on the age of the puppies and the presence of the mother.
- If cats are less than two weeks old, they will have their eyes closed and you should not try to mess with them. See if the mother is present and call a local NGO for help.
- If the little ones have their eyes open and are walking through the nest, a sign that they are already about a month old. These kittens are still very dependent on their mother, so don't touch them until you find out if she's around.
- If the cats are walking freely, a sign that they are past their first month of life. It's possible they are wild animals and you shouldn't mess with them. Do your best to give them shelter and protection, however.
Step 2. See if the mother comes back
Found kittens without their mother around? Watch them from afar and wait, as the mother may come back. If that happens, capture it with the little ones. This is very important, especially if they are very young and dependent on breast milk.
- Note if the mother comes back for an entire day. In the meantime, provide food, water and shelter (in the form of a box or something similar) for the little ones. This way, you guarantee their safety without having to remove them from the mother's presence.
- If the mother comes back, try to find out if she is a wild cat or simply a lost animal. If she's been abandoned or lost, she'll probably be friendlier and let you pet her, especially if she's carrying snacks. A wild cat will avoid contact at all costs.
- If you find a wild cat, the most recommended approach is to capture it, neuter it and return it to the wild. Older wildcats are quite difficult to domesticate, but it may be possible to tame the kittens and prepare them for adoption.
Step 3. Capture the chicks with a trap or transport box
There is always the possibility that pussies are wild, so it's not a good idea to just pick them up and take them home. These animals will be very stressed by the process, so simply provide shelter where they are to keep them safe.
- Buy a human trap online or at a pet shop and follow the manufacturer's instructions to safely catch the pussies.
- Another option is to place a transport box with treats inside close to the kittens. They must enter it on their own, and then just close it and take them to a safe place.
Step 4. Wear gloves when handling kittens
Never handle them unprotected as they may be sick or have a weakened immune system. You may need to take them in your hand to take them to a shelter, in which case it is important to wear gloves.
- Remember to hold the kittens with two hands: one supporting their chest and one supporting their hind legs.
- Hold cats close to your chest to prevent them from thrashing and falling.
Step 5. Make them feel at home
Set up a place in your house to shelter the animals until you get in touch with an NGO that rescues animals or with the zoonoses center in your city. Give them water, food, sand and walks.
- Pussies can be shy and it's a good idea to provide a box for them to hide. Still, don't let them run away from you: have unrestricted access to the boxes in case you need to pick them up and take them to a veterinarian or shelter.
- Keep the pets warm. Wrap a towel around a thermal compress or a bottle of hot water and place it in the cats corner.
- Offer a sandbox that is small so that the pets can get in and out of it.
Step 6. Contact a veterinarian or animal shelter
Professional guidance is critical in these situations, and cats may need special screening and care. If the pussies are very young and not with their mother, for example, they are unlikely to survive without you manually feeding them. It's also important to take them to a shelter if you don't have the space or resources to care for them at home.
Part 3 of 4: Keeping the Kitten Comfortable
Step 1. Identify possible reasons why the kitten might not like being caught
If he doesn't like to be handled, try to understand why, as it is possible that he associates this situation with something unpleasant. Once you've identified the triggers, do your best to avoid them when catching the pet.
- For example, some puppies associate handling with visits to the vet. As the little ones need to go to the office frequently, for check-ups and vaccinations, it is possible that the pet has created an association between being caught and going to the vet.
- In that case, work on disassociation by picking up the cat when you're not planning a trip to the vet. Keep the shipping crate out of sight and pick up the pet carefully. If he seems uncomfortable, talk to him calmly to reassure him.
Step 2. Find out what the kitten likes
It's important to hold it in a way that's comfortable, as each animal has its own preferences. When you have the cat on your lap, notice which times or situations it is most calm and comfortable.
- For example, the cat may like to rest its paws on your shoulder, or it may prefer to be held with its paws loose in the air.
- It's normal that pussies don't enjoy being held like babies, as this position is often awkward. There are exceptions, of course. So hold the kitten like this and see if it likes it. If he seems bothered, stop immediately.
Step 3. Don't hug the feline
Cats usually don't like to be squished, as it's uncomfortable and often causes them distress. Make sure your cat doesn't associate getting caught with negative feelings. Always hold it loosely, without "holding" it, as this is often quite uncomfortable for pussies.
Step 4. Be very careful when walking with the cat on your lap
It is very important to be careful at these times, as a slight trip or fall can cause the cat to create a negative association with being in your lap.
Also be careful when carrying the cat, as they do not like to be transported near window sills and stairs, as they are afraid of falling
Part 4 of 4: Dealing with Behavioral Problems
Step 1. Employ positive reinforcements
If you want the cat to behave in your lap, it's important to teach him that. These animals do not respond well to scolding, so don't punish the pussy for struggling in your lap. Bet on positive reinforcements, rewarding the cat whenever he behaves in the expected and desired way.
If necessary, take it easy. Is the pussy too skittish? Start to caress it and handle it lovingly for a while, leaving to pick it up later. Use positive reinforcement throughout the process, gradually extending the time you spend with your baby on your lap
Step 2. Don't put the cat on the ground if it flails
Many people give up on holding a cat as soon as it starts to thrash for fear of upsetting it. As much as your goal is not to irritate the pet, you shouldn't give in to that instinct. It is important to get him used to being held, or you will teach him that resisting will bring the desired results.
- Instead of putting the pet on the ground, keep holding it and try to soothe it with caresses and a soothing voice.
- After he calms down, continue holding him for a few minutes before putting him down. That way, he will understand that he needs to behave himself to get off the lap.
Step 3. Handle the bites correctly
It is common for the puppy to have no limits, biting or scratching when caught. These behaviors are not always aggressive, as the little ones can also use them to play. Still, this sort of thing has to be controlled, or it will continue to do so into adulthood.
- As already mentioned, fighting with the animal doesn't work. The best option is to ignore the behavior. If the kitten bites or scratches when petted or caught, ignore it for a few minutes and try again.
- Pay attention to the cat only when it stops biting and scratching.
Step 4. Accept that the cat may not like being caught
Not all cats like this, and there's no real problem with that. Still, it's a good idea to teach him to calm down and cooperate when he gets caught for brief periods, even if he never necessarily ends up enjoying being in the lap. In these cases, it is better to accept that this is your pet's temperament and find other ways to relate to him, such as through play and cuddling.
- If the puppy appears to have no mother, observe it for a few hours before removing it from its location - unless, of course, it is in immediate danger. If the mother does not show up after this time, it is best to pick up the kitten and take it to a safe place under her supervision.
- If you don't own the cat, talk to its guardian before picking it up, asking if the pet likes to be held. It is possible for the pet to bite, scratch or be sick, in which case it is best to leave it alone.