You might have heard the short high-pitched sound of your cat when picked up randomly. Cats produce such sounds to communicate with us. A cat squeaks when picked up to express how she is feeling. Some of the cats might squeak to show their affection, while others may exhibit such an attitude to communicate that they are not comfortable with being picked up.

In this article, we will explore why cats squeak when being picked up.

Cat Sounds

Cats make different sounds, such as meowing, hissing, purring, and squeaking. Some sounds are meant to relay a message to their human buddies, while others are reserved for communicating with their own folk. As cat owners, we need to distinguish between different sounds and their meanings.

Why Do Cats Squeak When Picked Up?

Infographic Showing Why Do Cats Squeak When Picked Up
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A cat squeak could mean many things. But as far as your cat squeaking when being picked up is concerned, it could mean she is either excited and happy to have your attention and love or she is protesting against being picked up. She might have an underlying health issue, and being picked up is painful for her, or she is just not a lap cat.

Below are some reasons why a cat may squeak when being picked up.   

1. Cats May Squeak to Grab Your Attention

Sometimes, when you pick up your kitty, she may squeak just to respond to your gesture of picking her up. You have to judge the squeaking sound, whether she acknowledges your behavior or is not happy or comfortable with you. She might behave like this to grab a human’s attention and to show affection and love. If the squeaking sound is not too loud or hostile, it may just mean that she likes being picked up.

2. Cats Squeak to Get Out of Grip to Relieve Their Pain

Cats are stoic creatures—they can tolerate minor pain and don’t pay much attention to it unless it is very severe. But this doesn’t mean that they won’t express it when it hurts. Your furball may meow or squeak when picked up, to communicate that there is an underlying injury or pain that worsens when you hold her.

To get rid of this pain, she will try to get out of your grip. If a cat scratched you when you picked her, that means there might be a severe underlying issue. It’s better to consult the vet to treat the pain that is causing her to behave wild.

3. Terrible Past Experience

If you have adopted a cat and it squeaks when you hold her, it may point to some unpleasant experiences in the past. A terrible past experience with an adopted cat could be the reason behind the squeaking sound.

The only thing you can do here is to show tolerance and make her believe that you are not going to harm her. You should show patience in such a scenario and try to convince her with cat treats or affection to make her comfortable with you. Sometimes, a cat that has been through trauma may even take a year to trust a human again.

4. Your Cat Don’t Feel a Good Bond With You

A new cat may struggle to get comfortable with you; that’s why she squeaks when you pick her up. Adopted cats usually behave this way because they have not yet developed a good bond with you. So, when you pick her up, she squeaks and struggles to get rid of your grip.

Give your furry friend some time to get familiar with a new home and new family members. Be patient and respectful to your new kittens, and let them approach you on their own. This will enable them to have some sense of control in a new human-pet relationship. They will probably allow you to pick them up in some time.

5. Cats Consider Themselves Bosses

As they say, “it is their home; you just pay the rent.” They consider themselves the bosses. When they are mature and grown up and know that it’s their right not to be picked up without their will, cats may show vocal disapproval in the form of squeaking. This vocal response is a sign of confidence, and they tell you this by communicating via squeaking.

When cats get mature, they develop a sense that they have a right to object to your decision to handle them against their will. Adult cats more often depict this behavior.

Kittens and young cats usually put up with human behavior, such as petting and picking them up. But adult cats know that they have the right not to be handled against their will.

6. Your Cat May Squeak to Protest

As we discussed earlier, sometimes cats squeak, which is a kind of vocal response shown by cats to communicate that they are not in a mood to be picked up. This can also be termed as a protest by cats. A cat protests when picked up against its desire to tell that they are in pain or not in a mood. For example, if you pick up a kitty when she’s done with her food, she will try to get rid of your grip.

7. Allergies May Cause a Cat to Squeak

Another reason behind cats squeaking may be allergies. The windpipe may get blocked due to allergy, and ultimately it distorts their vocal cords. If the issue is serious and your cat is not recovering, it’s better to consult a vet.

If your cat’s meow is just reduced to a squeak, it may be due to laryngitis. The larynx is known as the cat’s voice box, and any health condition in the larynx might affect the meow sound of your kitty. Laryngitis is a disease in which a cat’s larynx gets inflamed due to blockage, illness, or irritation in a cat’s throat. It may result in a squeaky sound in cats.

8. Not Being Picked Up Correctly

Sometimes, cat owners don’t pick them up correctly. This may cause them pain or somewhat discomfort. As a result of pain or discomfort, a cat may show this feeling through squeaking, hoping that you will understand her and either put her down or pick her up correctly.

Some cats show this by screaming or making a deep meow sound. It depends on how cats express themselves that they are not comfortable with.

How to Train a Cat to Be Picked up Without Irritating Her?

Cats can be trained to walk on a leash, stop them from biting you, or keep them out of the room. Similarly, she can be trained to be picked up.

Start her training by associating some positive experiences with her being picked up. When you hold her in your arms, offer some of her favorite food. While your kitty is eating her treat, show her affection by petting, gentle rubbing, and making this experience a good one for her. By repeating this process, again and again, your cat will get comfortable with you and will allow you to pick her up without squeaking.

But if she has an injury, she will still squeak. In that case, visit a vet, and they will suggest you a more thorough way forward.

A woman is holding a domestic cat in her arms in a garden

How to Pick a Cat up the Right Way?

Sometimes when you try to pick up a cat for the first time, she may give a hostile reaction. Under those circumstances, try to be nice to her by allowing her to sniff you before you pick her up. Once cats become familiar with you, you can pick them up, and they will not react aggressively. That’s the reason why our cats squeak when our parents or friends pick them up right away without familiarizing themselves with these furry friends.

Here is a video tutorial by Dr. Uri Burstyn on how to pick up a cat like a pro.

Final Verdict: Why Do Cats Squeak When Picked Up?

A cat may squeak when picked up to communicate that she does not want to be picked up—she might be hurt or not in the lap cat mood. Conversely, a cat squeak may indicate that she is happy to have your attention and wants you never to stop petting her.

Do not take it to heart, but it could also mean that your cat does not like you—you might have just adopted her. Just take good care of her, and she will warm up to you with time. You will soon have her sleeping on top of you or between your legs and licking you. These are cats’ ways of saying they love you—you belong to them.

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