Getting a handle on the kitten can be tricky

23:22, Jul 04 2014

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat but only a handful ways to hold one.

As anyone in (probably) all of New Zealand knows, I have recently taken possession of a kitten. The thing with kittens, I have realised, is that they succumb to Kitten Madness thrice daily.

Nothing can placate Kitten Madness. They gallop from one room to the next, into walls, engage in endless losing battles with chase-the-tail and suddenly attack their own foot in protest at invisible, unknown forces.

Despite the impossibility of picking up PussPuss for a cuddle while he is in the throes of Kitten Madness, I attempt this all the time because he is cute and fluffy and I have developed a mentality that the more I grab at him, the more I can make him love me.

The other day, I managed to wrangle the poor sod and momentarily hold him still enough for a photograph, which was duly posted on Twitter.

A Twitter user, an Auckland artist by the name of Marie Shannon, suggested I was holding my cat in "The Classic Bagpipe" - a hold in which the human's hands go under the cat's chest with your elbow pinning cat's outer hip to your side.


"The Bagpipe is my standard," she said. And then went on to offer a variant called "The Disabler" which is The Bagpipe hand holding the scruff. "For when someone is naughty," she said.

Now because this advice came from a virtual stranger, I checked it against a professional veterinary website and came across a video demonstration in which a docile tabby was being manipulated by a woman in a white coat.

"The more points on the cat's body that are touching your body, the more relaxed and comfortable your cat will be," The vet said. But she looked neither relaxed nor comfortable while explaining any of this.

Marie and I agreed there was a hold called "The Baby", which is, of course, cat on his back, cradled in your arms like a baby. Cats generally don't tend to enjoy this position but mine seems to be content like this unless he is in the grips of Kitten Madness.

If he goes for The Baby, Marie said, he might enjoy The Scarf. "Front paws in one hand, back paws in the other. Body around your neck." My kitten is a stocky wee thing so the Standing Scarf doesn't work for his body type but if he is relaxed enough in the mornings, I can roll him into a Horizontal Scarf whilst still in bed, before morning Kitten Madness has kicked in.

The Horizontal Scarf is a good position for those frosty winter mornings and if he happens to nod off again and it's a weekend, I get a good 20 minutes' worth of warm neck.

My boyfriend has developed a few Cat Hold theories of his own that I am dubious about. He believes the cat prefers to be held when he is fresh from the shower, which would suggest PussPuss enjoys the scent of lemongrass and sandalwood. I think it more likely the cat doesn't leap from his clutches is because he is employing a hold called The Convex where the cat is a victim of gravity and my boyfriend is in danger of a spinal injury.

Luckily my kitten does not yet have a hairball problem but as Marie assures me, there is also a hold called "Not on the Rug" where the cat is held around chest with both hands. Your arms will be outstretched, the cat facing forward.

The Press