Why Do Cats Purr When You Pick Them Up. A Useful Guide

Have you ever picked up your cat and she started purring immediately? Well, purring can be associated with both a happy or nervous cat. You see, it can be quite difficult to tell why your cat is purring. But we are going to determine whether cats purr out of contentment or nervousness when you pick her up. We are going to look at the possible reasons that why do cats purr when you pick them up.

Additionally, I am going to give you a step by step guide on how to pick up a cat.


What makes a cat purr?


Every cat owner has at some point heard their cat purring. You might wonder why she is doing so. Well, as we have mentioned above, most cats will purr when they are content and happy. However, in some instances, some cats purr when nervous, or in pain. Uniquely, purring is a cat vibration sound that you will only find in cats. I mean, not even other species in the cat family can purr.

Cat behaviorists continue to study cat behaviors and sounds. As of now, most research proves that purring is a result of contentment. When cats purr when we pick them up, it is a sign that they are happy. You might have to observe her body language to determine why she is making the vibrating sound.

On the other hand, some cats purr when you pick them up because they are nervous. Therefore, as we have outlined, be careful when your cat starts to purr as you pick her up. It could be that she is not used to being picked up, or you just brought her home.

Also, cat behaviorists believe that cat purr because it has healing properties, how amazing? Well, in her research, Dr. Elizabeth Von Muggerthaler confirmed this. The low frequencies produced when cats purr will strengthen and repair bones. Purring also catalyzes the healing process of your cat.


Why do cats purr when you pick them up


My cats purr when I pick them up


This is not an unheard-of behavior in cats. You have to identify why she is purring and to do so, you have to consider other factors such as the context. For instance, when your cat starts purring once you touch particular spots on her body, it could be out of contentment. Usually, under the chin and scratching her head can be quite appealing.

On the other hand, if you just brought her home, she could be feeling a little nervous. Well, the changing residence will make a cat stressed.  As a result, you might observe your cat meowing, hiding award and purring as she seeks comfort. It could also mean that she is not ready for a full-body petting.

You will need to give your cat some time to get comfortable in the new environments. You will need to approach her gradually, start by touching her gently and watch her reaction. If she is feeling out of place and she keeps meowing in a low pitch, you may need to make her comfortable. For instance, provide enough litter boxes and also spend some time with her.

Below, we are going to explore the measures you should take when picking up your cat.


How to pick up a cat appropriately


Why do cats purr when you pick them up


Now as we mentioned above, some cats love it when we hold them. On the other hand, other cats dislike being held. Therefore, you need to be careful when picking up a cat. But how exactly do you pick her up from the ground to your laps?

Note that when you pick up your cat, she might be frightened. Unfortunately, you should only pick her up when she is in a good mood and wants to be petted. Otherwise, your cat might scratch you or you might end up stressing your cat.

Before you proceed to make contact with her, take the following factors into consideration:


Your cat’s tolerance levels


Now, as we all tickle differently, cats will also enjoy different petting areas. As we have previously mentioned, some cats do not enjoy being pet at all. It is especially common when you are dealing with a new cat.

Well, changing residency will obviously cause nervousness and anxiety. Therefore, you must make sure that she is comfortable before you reach out. Also, understand her tolerance level. Does she react aggressively when you touch her? Well, if so, then you need to come up with a better way to approach your cat.

If she is trying to get away from you, release her immediately. Your cat definitely does not want to be held ‘hostage.’ She will display the signs of aggression if you try to.


Approach her calmly


The way you approach your cat will determine if she wants to be picked up or not. Therefore, you should be very strategic when you are about to pick up your kitty. Pay attention to her overall body language.

Now, when approaching your cat to pick her up, you not approach her from the front or behind. We recommend that you approach your cat from the side. The good thing is that your cat has a strong sense of hearing, which means that she can hear you approaching.

Well, what is wrong with approaching her from the front then? After all, she can see you, right? Well, understand that you appear quite big to your cat. Her eye level is low, near the ground as we all know. On the other hand, you are probably a standing figure with over 5 feet. I mean, you’d also be frightened if someone 5 feet taller than you, wouldn’t you?

Now, approach her from the side as compared to the front or behind. Approaching her from behind will also frighten her. No one likes it when someone creeps on them. You must, therefore, learn the appropriate way to approach a cat before you can learn how to pick her up.


Identify your cat’s favorite tickle places


Before you go ahead to pick up your cat, identify her tickle places. For instance, while one cat might enjoy physical contact with you, another one may not. You will have to use the trial and error method to do so. For instance, when petting her, note when she gets away from you. She will also react when she is frustrated.

Now, when you pick her up only touch her favorite places. Well, you just might have to use the trial and error method. Once again, pay attention to your cat’s body language. You will tell when she likes it and when she hates it.


Why do cats purr when you pick them up

Why do cats purr when you pick them up. Learn the correct technique to pick up a cat


As we have discussed above, picking up a cat is not always as easy as it might sound. You have to be careful and watch out for when she is in the mood and when she is not. Then how do you pick her up and give her all your affection?

Once you are sure that she is ready to be picked up, then what’s the obstacle. Often, we do not pick them up as nice as we should. I mean, I have seen people scuffing their kittens, kind of harsh, right? Well, try this step by step guide to pick up your cat;


Step 1: Place one hand underneath her


Since you want to bond with your kitty, she is going to love it when you do it gently. Note that with time, your cat will get used to your method of displaying your affection towards her. Place one hand underneath her body, right after her forelimbs.

Watch her body language and determine if your cat feels frightened. Watch her ears, tail, eyes and overall body posture. As we mentioned, make sure that your cat knows when you are coming towards her.


Step 2: Put your hand at her hindquarters


If your cat settles fine in your hands, then it is time to lift her up. However, remain gentle during this process. You can place a towel on your laps, especially if she has a kneading habit. This will protect you in case she tries to knead on your laps.

While she sits there, you can take the time to pet her. It is one of the most endearing things you can give to your cat. Cats will also purr when you pick them up and they feel excited.


Step 3: Gently put her down


Just as you picked her up, you should also put her down as gently. Once again, do not pick her up by scruffing her up, you know, as a cat mother would. Put her to the ground gently and let her go. Do not pick up your cat unless she wants to.

If she tries to escape, let her go. You should also try to spend enough time with your cat. This way, she will get used to you and she will be able to come close and even climb onto you.


Step 4: Only pick up a familiar cat


Never attempt to pick up a stray or feral cat. These cats do not want you to pick them up. They do not like human contact. As we have previously said, you should not pick her up forcefully. She could injure you as she tries to escape.

If you are picking up your friend’s cat, follow the above-discussed methods. Once again, when cats purr when you pick them up, it is up to you to decipher why. She could be content, hungry, nervous or fearful. Be careful if your cat is fearful, or she seems nervous. Watch her body language to determine whether she is calm and relaxed enough.




In conclusion, cats purr when you pick them up because of the above-outlined reasons. Her body language is going to let you know whether she wants your company or not. Also, you should always monitor how kids pick up your cat. I mean, this could end up two ways, she could injure your child or your child could injure your cat. Therefore, you must ensure that the two are under adult supervision even when they are just playing.

When your cat purrs, it could be because of one or more of the above-discussed reasons. Examine her to see if she is in pain resulting in purring. You may need to take her to the vet for a check-up if she won’t stop purring.

On the other hand, beware of when she is feeling nervous or agitated. Understanding cat behavior and body language are going to be essential when trying to determine why cats purr when we pick them up. Do not forget to spend enough time with her so as to bond and understand her better.


The Cat Language Bible
To learn everything about cat language and what they are saying just Click Here to watch a short video that will explain everything to you. The guide, known as The Cat Bible is used by thousands of cat owners like you and will drastically improve the relationship you have with your cat.



Affiliate Disclosure
This website is supported by its readers. Please assume that all links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links we will make a commission from Amazon. Thank you.

Michael Grover

About Me I have been a pet owner for most of my life. I am now retired and spend my days writing about problems relating to cats, dogs, and funeral poems. I am passionate about stopping animal cruelty in any shape or form. My passion is to help people like you identify behavior problems in cats and dogs. That is what I do. Over the years of my life, I have always kept cats and dogs. About four years ago I retired and found I had a lot of time on my hands, so I started to write all about dog and cat problems. It was suggested that I start up a website and publish my words to help people with their pet problems. I am still writing every day and hope you find my articles useful. Regards Mike Grover

Recent Posts