Do Bengal Cats Like to Be Picked up?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

I love holding my cat.

When I get home after work, all I want to do is pick up my furry little friend and just cuddle them.

However, with Bengal cats, that’s not always a good idea. Let me tell you why.

So do Bengal cats enjoy being picked up? There is no definite answer to this. It depends on their mood and temperament. Sometimes, they don’t mind being picked up and cuddled while there are also moments when picking them is the worst idea you can possibly have.

It is not easy to understand Bengal cats.

They can be quite overwhelming for those who have not handled them before.

Finding out more about their temperament and personality can make things easier if you want to adopt these naughty little furballs.

Picking up Bengal cats

Bengals are quite similar to toddlers. In fact, taking care of Bengal cats is not easy at all.

If you have a Bengal cat, I’d recommend you to check out our Bengal cat checklist to ensure that you have everything that your Bengal cat needs.

You must have experienced instances wherein you pick up a baby, and they start to bawl at the top of their lungs.

Bengals can sometimes give similar reactions; however, their protest at being picked up is not so harmless.

To make things clearer to you, I will explain:

  • Why your Bengal cat might not be in the mood to be picked up
  • How a Bengal cat should be picked up

Why your Bengal might not like being picked up

The reasons might differ according to the personality of the cat.

However, there are some common causes that lead to the Bengals having an aversion to being picked up.

Personal preference

Some Bengals just do not like human touch.

Yes, it hurts but that is the way it is. Perhaps they prefer to be somewhat formal, even with their owners.

They might be testing the waters:

Judging you, getting to know you before giving you their consent of being held.

Some might get scared

If the little furball has been in the family for long, it might still exhibit some hesitancy in being picked up.

Perhaps, it gets scared easily. Some Bengals might never like being picked up and if your cat is one of them:

You just have to live with it.

Lack of socialization

If you adopted the Bengal after it grew up, there is a chance that it did not socialize much as a kitten.

Thus it is not used to being held.

A bad experience

It takes a lot to recover from a bad experience and Bengals are no different in this regard.

Maybe your Bengal cat had a bad experience of being picked up by a human wherein it was held incorrectly, was hurt in the process or worse, dropped.  Forgetting this would not be easy.

Give them time.

Steps for approaching a Bengal cat

Remember how you had to learn how to hold a newborn baby, supporting the neck and body properly?

Now is the time for another lesson; the right way of picking up a Bengal cat.

These highly independent cats have mood swings about being picked up and learning to understand these moods is essential.

If you pick up your precious Bengal when they are not in the mood:

You will end up being bitten or scratched.

It is essential to ensure that when you pick up your Bengal, it feels comfortable and safe. They should be approached delicately.

Bengal cats are quite emotionally sensitive, and thus one has to be quite cautious.

Holding a baby was probably easier, right?

Making them feel at ease

The Bengal cat needs to be aware that you are coming to pick it up.

Taking it by surprise is never a good idea. Therefore, allow them to see you as you approach, talking to it in a soft tone.

As per some experts, approaching them from the right or left side is a good idea since they might feel threatened if you head straight for them.

Introductions are in order

Yes, you need to introduce yourself to the cat, even if it is your own.

The furball might need some time for warming up to you.

Be loving and friendly to prepare the Bengal for being picked up. Nuzzling their face is a good idea.

Pet them a little gently; some patience will certainly be required in this regard.

Read the signs

The Bengal cat will let you know through some signs that it is not in the mood of being held if that is so.

If they seem irritated, pet them a little and then leave them on their own.

The right way to hold a Bengal cat

Once you are confident that your Bengal has given you consent of holding it, make sure you do not goof up.

Place one hand under its body, right behind the front legs. Move your hand under the body gently, below the front legs. The other hand should then be used later to make them feel more secure.

This is more of a cradling position

Once you have held them properly, lift them gently.

Bring them towards your chest, in contact with your body. This makes the Bengal more comfortable.

Bengals should always be held against the chest.

Ensure that their posture is straight. Sagging them might make them uncomfortable, causing them to squirm.

Make sure that you do not hold the Bengal against its will. It will react quite defensively if you do so.

Let them go the moment you feel they want to be put down.

How do Bengal cats show their affection?

If your Bengal does not like being picked up, it does mean it does not love you.

It just implies that their way of love is a little different. There are different ways they would show their affection for you.

Bengals like rubbing against the legs of their owners or bumping their heads against them.

They might prefer following you around or licking you. These little gestures are their way of proclaiming their love for you.

They might show their love by interacting with you. They seem to have a thing of expressing love during play sessions.

Kneading is another way via which your cat lets you know how much it loves you. If they like jumping on you followed by kneading, consider it their love.

Of course, the most common way of showing love for Bengals is purring. They purr contently when with you to let you know that they like being there.

How to understand if the Bengal is happy, sad or scared?

Before you pick Bengals, you need to get some idea about their moods. Reading their mood is not always easy, but there are some signs you can look out for.

MoodMovement of TailEar Eyes
HappySlow, sweeping movementForward positionLight with eagerness
MadFlickering and flashing movementFar backwards Full dilated pupils
Scared Bushy tail moving slowlyBack positionDilated pupils

When happy, these cats wag their tails in a slow, sweeping manner. They pull their ear forwards, and you can see the look of delight in their eyes.

When angry, Bengals are a handful.

They can potentially be dangerous in this mood.

They flicker and flash their tail dangerously, and their pupils dilate completely, making it seem like their eyes have changed colors.

Their ear is pushed backward to the extent that they might not even be visible from the front.

When these furry little animals are scared, the hair on their body, including tail stands on end, making them look bigger. They move their bushy tails slowly while their ears are pulled backward. Their pupils dilate.

Related questions

How do I win the affection of my Bengal cat? Bengals expect to be treated with respect and given enough attention.

Thus, if you make sure that they are not left alone for long, encourage them to play with you and interact with them properly; they will love you more than anything.

Disappoint them, and you will regret it. Understand their moods and interact with them accordingly.

Do Bengal cats like to be cuddled? Bengals are not really lap cats.

If you want a cat who will sit in your lap for long hours as you do your work, Bengals are the ones for you.

They are quite an active breed who likes to be in control and engage in activities.

They don’t mind the occasional petting, but cuddling for long hours is not their thing.

Are Bengal cats safe for toddlers? It would be best to keep Bengal cats away from toddlers. You cannot expect a toddler to understand when the cat is not the mood of playing.

Toddlers might end up kicking or pulling the cat. These are not the kind of things the Bengals forgive.

When angry, they can even harm the toddlers, and thus they should be kept away from one another.

Should I get a Bengal cat? If you want a sweet and adorable cat, you can cuddle with and would not be very demanding, stay away from a Bengal cat.

These are quite an attention craving and demanding breed. You need to work for them, and in return, they give you their loyalty and affection.

If you are willing to put in the work, provide them with the attention they need and the care they want, you will find them to be an entertaining and wholesome companion.


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