Who would’ve thought you’d become one of those pet parents who spend hours online looking up meanings behind different sounds their fluffy friends make? And, who would’ve thought your fluffy friend would make so many!? “Argh, why does my cat squeak when I pick him up?”
Oh, you thought those sounds were random gibberish your cat makes when he’s looking for attention? “They’re not!?” Well, not necessarily. While some meows and purrs might mean your furiend is begging you to snuggle him to death, we can’t say the same about every single one of them.
“He’s trying to communicate with me!?” That’s right; cats are very vocal when compared to other animals. In actual fact, cats possess the widest range of sounds (apart from birds) among typical domesticated animals (take that, Pluto!) And, even with that ability, your cat doesn’t speak English!?
But, you don’t speak the cat language either, right? “You have got to be kitten me right meow! What kind of a parent doesn’t speak cat language and makes his little ball of fluff figure things out for himself?” – sounds like something he would meow right about now because you’re talking smack about him.
And, circling back to what we were discussing before your cat went on that rant, cats employ meows, purrs, and other sounds as means of communication. Other than body language (perked up ears, scrunched nose, the “tail language”), cats don’t really have that many ways of expressing emotions.
Why does your cat squeak when you pick him up, then? There’s a host of reasons cats make the sounds they make. And, we’ve gathered everything you need to narrow down your own list of possibilities. Let’s start from the beginning, why don’t we?
Meows, purrs, and growls: why does my cat make a bunch of sounds?
Oh, why do cats do anything that they do!? Because they can, because they’re cats, and because they’re aware of the fact that they could rule the world with a single meow uttered at the right moment.
Whether your cat’s been making a bunch of sounds or you’ve been doing research because you want to learn more, you’re probably wondering what this even means.
From meows and purrs to growls and squeaks, your feline employs an array of vocalizations to communicate how he’s feeling. When trying to understand what he’s attempting to convey, focus on the environment, his body language, and the type of sound he’s producing.
Each sound has a meaning on its own. Kittens meow when they’re looking for their mother. But, as they grow up, the meowing fades away and stops. And, the only reason adults domestic cats meow seems to be that they consider themselves the offspring of the family.
More times than not, when your furry friend meows, he’s looking for something – food, attention, snuggles, cuddles, or even access to a room you locked him out of. And, what about the purrs? Don’t worry, the purring continues throughout a cat’s lifetime and typically signifies safety, happiness, and utter contentment.
Oh, and what about the birdlike chirps and chirrups? Typically used by their mothers from the moment they were born, these adorable declarations of excitement tend to stick with cats even after they’re grown up. More times than not, cats use them to demand your attention.
And, we can’t forget about the growls and hisses! Nobody’s wondering why Mr. McFluff’s suddenly making sounds resembling a steak sizzling on the grill? Accompanied by an arched back, puffed tail, and flattened ears, these utterances mean something’s very, very, wrong.
Why does my cat squeak when I pick him up?
“But what about the squeaks? What’s with this weird sound he makes whenever I try to carry him in my arms?”
Oh you poor thing, you’re probably terrified every time you pick your fluffball up, wondering whether he’s about to squeak or scream. More times than not, you have little to worry about!
Cats squeak when they’re happy, sad, uncomfortable, threatened, restricted, or even unhealthy. Cats squeak when they’re chased around the backyard by other cats, when they’re picked up without their consent, or when they’re fuming with anger. And they also squeak simply because they’re… cats.
But knowing the agony you’ve been through for the past couple of weeks, we’ve gathered a bunch of reasons your cat might be squeaking when you pick him up. Get your pen and paper, make some notes, and remember – you can always consult your vet IF you have a reason to believe something’s wrong.
1. He’s happy
“Why does my cat squeak when I pick him up?” Now, wouldn’t you squeak and beam with happiness at the very thought of being picked up and twirled around by someone who loves you more than anything in the world? Your feline friend might be squeaking with delight rather than terror, don’t you think?
We’ve been over this already, but we don’t mind repeating things that could make a difference. Cats don’t have that many ways in which they can communicate their emotions. For the most part, they resort to body language, meowing, purring, and squeaking hoping to get the message across.
And, on the off chance that you need more proof, you can always observe and analyze the squeak. A high-pitched, gentle squeak accompanied with contended body language typically means he’s happy. On the other hand, a low-pitched, aggravated squeak typically means he’s unhappy.
2. He’s not happy
That’s right, we’re here to bring you up before we knock you down once more! Kidding aside, there’s a reasonable chance your cat might be squeaking when you pick him up just because he’s not happy. But whether he doesn’t like being picked up or he’s unhappy for a different reason, you should probably do something about it.
But, before you schedule an emergency visit with your vet, why don’t we go over what makes your cat squeak with unhappiness?
When you think of an unhappy cat, you don’t necessarily think of one that’s squeaking. You think of one that’s refusing to eat, not grooming himself, and spending most of the day lounging around.
That’s true, but… There’s that “but” every time, we talk about cats’ odd behaviors. Cats can be angry, aggravated, annoyed, and different sorts of “get out of my face!” when they’re unhappy. And, that would explain the squeaking – who wants to be picked up when fuming out of the ears!?
3. You’re causing him pain!
We know this isn’t something you want to hear. But, we can’t skip over the fact that your four-legged friend might be squeaking because he’s hurting. He may have been hurt while you weren’t looking, perhaps he’s been attacked by another cat, or maybe he’s even experiencing health problems.
Whatever the case, you shouldn’t exclude the possibility that he’s making sounds to warn you that he’s hurting. Not only that, but he might be trying to let you know that the pain gets worse when you pick him up or when you hold him. He’s a tough cookie, but he might need some help dealing with the boo-boo.
Contact your vet and schedule an appointment. While there are other reasons he might be squeaking, you’re better off staying on the safe side. “And, sometimes he even scratches me or bites me when I pick him up!” Girl, go get your vet right meow!
4. You’re doing it wrong!
You’re wondering “Why does my cat squeak when I pick him up?” when you should be wondering “What did I do to make him squeak?” don’t you think? We’re not saying you hurt your little friend on purpose, but you might have accidentally scratched him or squished him against your body a little too hard.
Cats don’t really like feeling like they’re trapped and they typically run away the moment that they sense you might be giving them “a little too much love.” And don’t worry, we know how difficult restraining yourself from snuggling and smooshing your adorable fluff’s little face whenever you see him can be.
But, you might have to brush up on your “how to pick up a cat” knowledge. Make sure you give him enough time to understand what you’re doing before you scoop him up. Then use both your hands to support his body and be careful not to bear down on his little paws.
5. He’s working on his vocal skills
Here’s the thing – there’s no reason to wonder, “Why does my cat squeak when I pick him up?” if the cat in question’s merely a minuscule kitten. Trust me, kittens produce all sorts of sounds that shouldn’t send you running to the nearest emergency animal center screaming, “Why is my cat growling!?”
Kittens have been on earth for a relatively short period, right? They’re making different sounds (such as squeaking) because they’re trying to figure out how to make them properly and whether these work for them or not. That’s a completely natural process that shouldn’t freak you out!
As a matter of fact, all the meowing, purring, and growling depends on the breed more than anything else. Breeds such as Siamese, Japenese Bobtail, and Oriental produce a lot more sounds than other breeds. They’re pretty much like Huskies of the feline world – they never stop talking!
6. He’s had a bad experience with being picked up
This is a pawsibility you shouldn’t overlook under any circumstances! Granted, your furry friend was adopted from a shelter or rescued from the streets, so you probably prepared yourself for an adaptation period. Now that’s over; you’re expecting him to welcome you with paws wide open.
He doesn’t, though. And, he squeaks every time you pick him up. “Does he not love me? Does he not enjoy the love and affection he’s given every single day?” That’s hardly something we can get on board with. But we can certainly get understand that he’s had a bad experience in the past and he’s scared to relive it.
When you adopt or rescue a kitten, you don’t really know what the little one has been through. You don’t have the health history, the information on his parents, or statements about his breed. You only know the things you can figure out for yourself. And, that’s why you should always be patient and understanding.
7. He feels threatened
Oh, cats can feel threatened! You might think your little fluffy friend’s fearless because he’s not afraid to tackle spiders or attack dark shadows. But, you’re wrong. Cats can feel threatened by other cats, bigger animals, or even humans that simply give them the creeps (you know what that feels like).
So, pay attention to your cat’s body language and the environment. Are you trying to carry your cat while walking past a clowder of cats that are meowing, growling, and hissing? Are you trying to pick him up while you’re chillin’ in your backyard that’s suspiciously close to a forest?
Whatever the situation might be, always keep an eye out for clues. Your four-legged friend might even save you the hassle of getting to know someone that might turn out to be a major creep. His body language NEVER lies!
8. He feels restricted
We love to envision cats as these cuddly and snuggly creatures that wait for us to give them the love they deserve, right? While that might be true (for those cats that actually like us), most cats prefer not to be dependent on humans for their happiness.
As a matter of fact, most cats prefer to be on their own. They don’t appreciate when someone (meaning you) disturbs their peace and forces them to snuggle when they’re clearly not looking to snuggle. They don’t even bond with humans who do that sort of stuff. That’s why they always snuggle with dads who didn’t want them!
Make sure you’re not trying to pick him up when you see he’s not feeling your attempts. You’re better off leaving him alone and trying again some other time. You don’t want to overwhelm him and put yourself at risk of an attack.
9. You don’t know each other like that
“Why does my cat squeak when I pick him up!? I just want to give him the love that he deserves, but he doesn’t want to let me! What am I doing wrong!?”
You know, there’s a chance you aren’t doing anything wrong. As a matter of fact, you should probably keep doing what you’re doing and be a little more patient.
Maybe the two of you haven’t had enough time to bond with each other. Perhaps you’ve adopted, rescued, or purchased him fairly recently, so you don’t know each other like that yet. Or, maybe you’ve been traveling a lot lately and he’s gotten used to the fact that you’re not there.
But, these scenarios are easily salvageable. Make sure you read your fluffy friend’s body language, give him plenty of time and space, and remain patient through the process of trying to make him feel as comfortable as he can be.
10. He doesn’t like when you pick him up
Last but not least, your four-legged friend might not like when you pick him up! While that might make you unhappy, you should understand that being picked up isn’t a natural thing in the feline world. Not only that but most felines associate being picked up with being attacked.
So, you might want to familiarise your cat with the whole concept of picking him up to give him cuddles before you make another attempt. And, on the off chance that he really, really doesn’t want you to pick him up, you need to respect his wishes.
Good luck! You’ve got this!