Does my cat understand when I pick him up and hug him?

A social media user asked: "Does my cat understand when I pick him up and hug him, or is he just waiting to be moved/put down?"

Does my cat understand when I pick him up and hug him, or is he just waiting to be moved/put down?
Does my cat understand when I pick him up and hug him, or is he just waiting to be moved/put down? Image: MikeB based on image in the public domain.

The answer to the question depends on the circumstances. However, if you have the habit of picking up your cat gently and gently talking to him and gently loving him and you do this as an expression of love and friendship, your cat will understand what it means and respond accordingly. 

However, if you regularly pick up your cat and transport them to another place under certain circumstances and you do it over and over again then your cat will understand that picking them up and transporting them means just that and it is not an expression of love towards your cat. 

Like I said it's a question of circumstances and how a cat links your behaviour with those circumstances to deduce what is going on.

There is also the issue of how you pick a cat up and whether you do it in the correct way or incorrectly and how you hug your cat when they are in your arms. Do you carry your cat like a baby which is feet up and, on their back, or do you carry them in a way which is less intimidating to them? 

Sometimes when people treat their cat as babies the cat can become a little anxious. In which case they will want to be released. And cats vary tremendously in their preferences.

Some cats like to be carried or jump on to their owner's lap while others are less keen. Some cats actively dislike being picked up and carried and they'll complain. For them, picking them up and hugging them cannot be a pleasant experience of affection from their owner.

And clearly, there has to be a good general relationship between cat and person. If the relationship is slightly tense or fractious, a cat will not wish to be picked up because it will only tend to make them nervous. The opposite will happen if there is a good relationship, and the cat likes to be picked up and understands that it is a demonstration of affection from their human caregiver.

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