Beware! Your cat could have serious reasons for meowing when you pick it up

Mádi-Krezinger Cintia

2024. April 3 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Cats can have many reasons for meowing, and we should always listen to their vocalizations. Here's a case where it's especially important to listen to your cat's signals.


Cats communicate with us humans in different ways. Although body language plays an essential role in expressing what they want to say, one of their most important communication tools is meowing. This is because adult animals specifically use meowing to communicate with humans, and in all cases they have a good reason to vocalize. During play, when greeting or when hungry, the cat meows to get our attention. Even when we pick it up. But what does it want to say at this time? We have collected the possible reasons.

You are holding it wrong

If you are in the fortunate position that your kitty doesn’t mind being picked up, watch carefully if your pet suddenly meows when you pick it up. The sound may be a way of letting you know that you have not picked it up properly. You may have inadvertently hurt it or touched it in a place it would rather not be. If your cat hasn’t previously given you any indication that it has a problem when you pick it up, and it shows no sign of having any health problems, you probably just didn’t get it right.

While you probably know exactly the right way to pick up kittens, for the record read this article in which a vet explains how to properly lift and hold a cat.

The animal is in distress

The majority of cats basically do not like to be picked up by their owners. This puts them in a very vulnerable position, which can cause anxiety and fear. You would think that if it didn’t like it, it would jump out of your arms. But contrary to popular belief, a cat doesn’t necessarily run away or attack when it gets into an uncomfortable situation. Because of its love for its owner, it may try not to move, but that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.

Pay careful attention to the cat’s body language – especially the movements of the tail and the position of the ears. If after you lifting it up, the animal shows signs of stress, do not force cuddling in the future. We know there’s nothing like picking up and hugging a soft little cat, but if you really love it, you’ll respect its boundaries.

Too much stimulus

You may have experienced the phenomenon of stroking your pet who, from one moment to the next, suddenly bites you. Just like biting, meowing can be a sign that the stimulus is too much or too strong for the cat. Cats get a lot of information about their environment through their paws, so it’s understandable if literally losing the ground under their feet can be too much for them.

Just talking to you

Some cats just love to talk, and when you pick them up they just communicate with you. If you see no signs that the cat is uncomfortable in any way, and if it is otherwise constantly meowing, you probably have nothing to worry about.

Your cat is in pain

The aforementioned ones are harmless cases, but unfortunately there may be more serious reasons behind your pet’s vocal signals. Cats tend to hide illnesses, but they cannot hide serious pain. If your cat meows when you pick it up, tries to run away and may show other signs of illness, see your vet as soon as possible.

Cats are masters at hiding illness, but there are symptoms that can tell you if something is wrong. In this article we have collected the warning signs.

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