Why Does My Cat Meow When I Pick Her Up?

Hearing my cat meow is like music to my ears. It has to be one of the most endearing traits of a domesticated cat.

There have to be more than hundreds and thousands of videos about cats gracing us with their adorable meows.

Not many cat owners realize that cats have evolved over the centuries to use meowing to communicate with humans. If you observe a group of cats, they don’t meow at each other to communicate. Scent recognition and kitty pheromones are what cats use.

Have you ever wondered “Why does my cat meow when I pick her up?”

All you wanted to do was to pick your cat up for a kiss and cuddle.

Is your cat trying to tell you something or are you reading too much into it?

Let’s find out.

Why Do Cats Meow?

Cats meow to communicate with us. They have found out through the years of domestication that by meowing, it causes their owners to come running and fuss over them.

Cats have learnt to mimic the sound of a crying baby with their meows. This appeals to the human paternal instinct of wanting to protect and provide.

A rather effective way of communicating I might add.

Meowing is also another way for cats to signal to their owners if something is right or wrong. Cats can’t speak like us hence vocalizing is the only way to get our attention.

Why Does Your Cat Meow When You Pick It Up?

If you notice that your cat has started meowing when you pick it up, there is usually a reason behind it.

Your Cat Doesn’t Like Being Held

Each cat has its own unique personality like humans. Some cats are cuddle bugs that enjoy being picked up and held while to some cats it feels like going to the vet.

If your cat suddenly starts meowing when you pick it up, try looking for other signs of body language as well.

Is your cat’s meow loud and prolonged, almost to the point of yowling (a high pitched meow)? Are your cat’s ears pulled back? Is your cat struggling to break free with a tense body? Is your cat hissing as well?

All these behavioral signs mean that your cat dislikes being picked up and held this way. Some cats feel vulnerable when being picked up as they feel trapped and can’t escape.

It could be due to your cat not being socialized well enough as a kitten or it doesn’t quite trust you enough to be held this way.

This is usually the most common explanation behind a cat’s meow when you pick it up.

Your Cat Is In Pain Or Discomfort

Cats are masters of disguise when it comes to masking pain and discomfort. But if you suddenly notice that your cat has been meowing when you pick it up, it could signal some underlying medical issue.

If your cat meows when you pick it up and shows signs of aggression, you picking it up could be pressing on an area that is tender or inflamed which is causing your cat to meow.

Get your cat some immediate veterinary advice to see what is causing the pain or discomfort.

You are Interrupting Your Cat’s Schedule

Cats are creatures of habit and they like to follow their daily schedule to a T. If you pick up your cat when it is on the way to its food bowl or litterbox, your cat meows means that now is not the best time to be cuddling.

Cats simply don’t have the patience to be interrupted when it has their mind set on a task.

Give your cat a couple of minutes to finish up its task and it will be in a better state of mind to be picked up.

Your Cat Is Feeling Stressed

Cats are sensitive creatures and tend to get stressed up rather easily. They feel the need to be in control of their surroundings and might feel stressed and uneasy if they are not.

Things like moving house, the presence of a new family member or house guest can throw your cat off its balance and increase its stress levels.

If your cat meows when picked up when there is someone new around or at your new home, there’s a good chance that it is feeling stressed out.

Your Cat Is In Heat

If you have a female cat that is not spayed, she will start to become another cat during her heat cycle. Female cats in heat will be restless and easily agitated. The only thing that is on their mind is to look for a suitable male cat to mate with.

Unneutered male cats will also behave the same way as they are programmed to wander and seek out females in heat to mate with.

Therefore if unsterilized cats meow a lot when picked up, it could be a sign of agitation due to their desire to mate.

Your Cat Is Just Being Itself

My own cat meows all the time when I pick him up and he feels pretty neutral about it. He doesn’t act aggressive nor will he turn into a cuddle bug when I do that.

In fact, he sounds like he has the wind knocked out of him when I carry him. Even when I do it as slowly and gently as humanly possible.

For some reason, it is just my cat’s personality to make that sound and nothing to do with his mood or physical well being.

Your Cat Misses You

cat sleep cycle full moon

Despite the allegations and assumptions that cats have no loyalty and treat their owners like slaves, it isn’t always true.

Experiments have shown that cats do miss their owners when they are away and countless videos show cats sticking by the door and waiting for their pet parents to come back.

If your cat meows and purrs when you pick it up after a long day at warm, it should warm your heart knowing that your cat misses you and is hungry as well.

Your Cat Doesn’t Trust You (Yet)

Cats take time to warm up to people and if you just brought a new cat home, chances are it has yet to warm up to you.

Socializing cats can be rather tricky if you are adopting a hoarded cat or one that had an abusive past. These cats tend to be afraid of humans and get stressed when there’s physical contact with one.

When your new cat meows when you pick it up, it could be due to a socialization issue that is causing it.

How To Train My Cat To Like Being Picked Up?

Training your cat to like being picked up can be done but it will take time. Cats have a fierce independent streak and don’t take to training as well as dogs.

But your cat’s behavior can be corrected with patience and treats. In fact, it will be your patience and perseverance that will dictate how your cat feels about being carried.

As long as you have ascertained that your cat’s meowing isn’t due to medical issues when picking it up, you can start to train it step by step.

When it comes to cats, never rush the process and use a lot of positive affirmations. Do not get abusive with your cat at any time.

The first thing to do is to make your cat comfortable when being picked up. Break up the action of being picked up into smaller steps and reward your cat with praise and treats if it doesn’t resist.

If your cat doesn’t like a particular part, go back down to the previous step for a while and then proceed.

Once your cat is totally fine with the entire process, gently pick it up and put it down after a few seconds. Don’t wait for your cat to start struggling or showing irritation before putting it down.

One thing to note is that training cats work a lot faster and better when they are still kittens. Kittens take well to being trained as compared to an adult cat.

Make sure you get your getting used to being carried, groomed and being fed medication.

Most cats will be fine with being picked up after a few months of training. Mine took years before he was fine with it so don’t lose hope too fast.

Cat Breeds That Like To Be Picked Up And Carried

Not all cat breeds are made equal when it comes to wanting affection from their owners. There are some breeds that make perfect cuddle bugs and lap cats if that is what you want.

  • Maine Coon
  • Siamese
  • Cornish Rex
  • Sphynx
  • Tonkinese
  • Scottish Fold
  • Ragdoll
  • Birman
  • American Shorthair

These cats make the perfect pets for families that are looking for an affection and needy breed. Don’t forget that even though having a cat that needs a lot more affection feels warm and fuzzy at times, it is something that these cat breeds need on a daily basis.

If you are someone that can’t fulfil that, then it is better to get a breed that is less needy.


Cats communicate with us in ways that we should try to understand. Even though cats meowing when picked up don’t always lead to something serious, it is good to try and figure out what your cat is feeling or trying to tell you at that moment.

At the end of the day, if you cat is one that just detests being picked up, no amount of training might work . Make it a point to love your cat for who it is and your bond will grow stronger over time.