Squish That Cat!
May 18, 2018 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Pick up a Cat Like a Pro This Friday, let's watch seven minutes of Vancouver vet Dr. Uri Burstyn, wee Claudia, and Shoulder Cat Mr. Pirate as they demonstrate how to pick up a cat, including the Squish and the Football Carry.
posted by Hypatia (55 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
One of our cats is big, more than 20 lbs. He's a cuddle monster for me, though, and he'll happily hang out in my arms for as long as I can hold him. Which is great, because he's also a mean prick when there are lots of strangers in the house, so I sometimes have to pick him up to lock him in the bathroom or basement or wherever.

Most of the time this is fine. But if he decides he wants to escape mid-grab, I might wind up in the position that Dr. Burstyn describes as a bad idea -- hind legs swinging free. Cats' back claws are sharp as fuck, and his seem to be about eighteen inches wide behind the razor-sharp tips. I have multiple scars on my hands and arms from this cats' hind claws.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:21 AM on May 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

This is amazing. The antidote to many other FPPs
posted by mikelieman at 6:31 AM on May 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I always throw cats over my shoulder and once they figure out how AWESOME it is they make biscuits on my back.
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:45 AM on May 18, 2018 [14 favorites]

Mister Pirate also stars in the How to trim a cat's nails videos, thus proving he is the most chill cat on Earth not named Maru. So I am unsure how well these cat-pickup instructions would work with an angry cat who is trying to fight you.

You may also recognize Uri Burstyn from random extra roles in Vancouver TV!
posted by nicebookrack at 6:48 AM on May 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

I like all instructions for cat-handling that include kitty head-kisses as a step.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:50 AM on May 18, 2018 [18 favorites]

How to trim a cat's nails

Oh man, my lil fatty also loves having his nails trimmed. I sit cross-legged on the floor and plop him in there, he just hangs out while I trim them. I can usually do both front paws in under a minute, and he knows he gets treats after.

I have never tried trimming his hind claws. It's a little scary, honestly.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:05 AM on May 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I like the implication that there are professional cat lifters. I might be interested: what are the hours like?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:06 AM on May 18, 2018 [20 favorites]

Mrs. Example and I have a constant UB40 earworm. "I'm gonna squish that cat/That's what I'm gonna do/I'm gonna squish that cat..."

Fortunately our cats put up with the singing for the skritches and belly rubs.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:09 AM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

When a kitty comes along
You must squish it
Before it knocks over the bong
You must squish it

Squish that cat!
Give that cat a pat.
I said squish it
Squish it good
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:13 AM on May 18, 2018 [84 favorites]

I always try to hold my cat so he can support his own weight; I'll have one arm circle over his back end, curling around with the hand underneath for him to set his hind legs on, and the other under his front paws with the hand coming up to his side to hold him. I'm basically hugging him, but sort of sideways. He seems to find that pretty comfortable, and it's also relatively easy to hold him for a longer time that way.

When trimming nails, that's always a two-person job. My wife holds him in her lap however she can with one hand, and feeds him a constant flow of treats with the other, and he's so busy with them that barely notices me pulling out each paw one at a time and doing the clipping. The back paws are a little tougher because of the way she has to hold him for me to get at the paw.
posted by mystyk at 7:18 AM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

My cat does not like being picked up but we do it every night anyway so that she can associate it with treats rather than being Bundled Into Her Carrier.
posted by Hypatia at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2018 [19 favorites]

My guy loves being held like a baby but he turns into a Tasmanian devil if you try to trim his claws. Towels, squishing, holding the back of the neck - none of that works. Even the vet gave up after one paw, and he had a professional helper.

Usually it doesn't matter that he has needles at the end of his paws; he gives me a lot of warning before he swipes me and if I get scratched it's usually my own fault. But he gets stuck on things and bent a curtain rod because he was unable to let go.
posted by AFABulous at 7:25 AM on May 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I can't decide who I want to be my boyfriend more, Dr. Uri or Mr. Pirate.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2018 [32 favorites]

I'm gonna squish that cat.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2018 [6 favorites]

I feel the unbearable urge to go squish my cat right now. Too bad he's currently hiding.
posted by TwoStride at 8:05 AM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've started to say "squish that cat" a whole bunch more since I watched that video. Often times when I'm squishing one of our two cats. They do actually seem to enjoy it, which is a little bit surprising.

The two ways that he suggested to hold the cat do not work at all. That football hold especially is one that our cats HATE. The second you try they become bags of worms with claws. They much prefer being fully supported, like with their paws on arms so that they can jump out, or being cradled like babies.
posted by Neronomius at 8:38 AM on May 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Handsome man with BC Canadian accent who gives kitties kisses and appreciates kitty bellies? *fans self*
posted by jillithd at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2018 [17 favorites]

How to Pick Up a Cat II: Clawdia's Revenge

My dear departed Steve wanted to be on my shoulder pretty much 24/7. She'd go up on one shoulder like Mr. Pirate, then go around the back of my neck and settle on the other shoulder facing forward. As she started to relax up there, she'd let go one paw at a time until she was just hanging like a limp noodle. Luckily, she was on the small side even full-grown.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

Dr Uri is really sweet and def reeeeeally loves kitties. Clawdia is adorable and Mr Pirate!!! I want to squish his chubs. My Herbert loves to be held like a baby and lets me trim his claws (I tell him how handsome he is as I groom him) Bellatrix is 100% shoulder cat but does require purrito-ing for a petticure.
posted by supermedusa at 9:01 AM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

When i pick up Beatrix T. Cattenborough (she accepts all friend requests), I tend to sling her over my shoulder in a "fireman's carry." She digs it, and it's easy for her to signal when she's had enough and wants to get down.
posted by slkinsey at 9:15 AM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

We have inevitably socialized all our cats to be amenable not only to shoulder-cat carry but also to being held upside down and cuddled like a baby, which I know cats aren't supposed to like. But my little Sugar, our back-yard rescue with the bad back (swaggers like a sailor) and the missing fangs (only one left, so it shoves her lip up in a sneer), just lies there with her front paw extended kneading away when I do that. I wish I knew how we do it.
posted by Peach at 9:53 AM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

There a reason I named my latest cat 'Squish'.

That, and Lexx.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:31 AM on May 18, 2018

I have large fat cats, so I also carry them with one arm under the back legs and their front paws resting on my other arm, cuddled close. They tolerate the baby carry. They don't however like having their claws trimmed, but I manage one claw at a time by sneaking up on them when they're sleeping.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:53 AM on May 18, 2018

I was introduced to this via the version with added subtitles with the cat's thoughts.
posted by larrybob at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2018 [12 favorites]

I do a modified football carry with my fluffers: back legs and cat-butt supportively squished under the elbow and bicep, forearm supporting cat body, front paws laid on palm of hand. This makes it possible to hold two cats at once: one cat under one arm, the second under the other arm. I suggest snatching the bigger cat first as it can take two hands to place the squish for a particularly floofy cat butt. Whereas the smaller kitteh can be swooped up and support-squished with the remaining arm.

I like to narrate it with mine as well. "One cat up! Two cats up! Who needs to lift weights when you have two floofers to squiggle in your arms! Weights don't squiggle!"
posted by fraula at 11:09 AM on May 18, 2018 [13 favorites]

I am not a playdough!
posted by supermedusa at 11:54 AM on May 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

welcome to uncanny valley veterinarian video

apparently real vet person manipulate real cat in many wrong ways yet in video yet no person murder

this not real

need murder to make believe
posted by lalochezia at 12:15 PM on May 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

omg I just tried that football carry with Bell and she did NOT like it!
posted by supermedusa at 12:25 PM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

omg I just tried that football carry with Bell and she did NOT like i

Did you squish? Its all in the cat squish.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:55 PM on May 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Those are some seriously well-behaved, patient cats! I'd like to know the secret behind that.
posted by Vesihiisi at 1:01 PM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

oh I squished all right...
posted by supermedusa at 1:34 PM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Those are some very patient cats. My cat is nearly that patient when she's in her Safe Zone (the bedroom) and will let me pretty much manhandle (cathandle?) her however I want. Right now we're working on getting her comfy with being cradled like a baby, because that seems to be the easiest way to trim her back claws. She has eosinophilic dermatitis and it's pretty much controlled but she still has a tendency to scratch her ears to bloody ribbons if I let her back claws get sharp. Overall though she's quite the little rag doll as long as she's in my room, and will let me pick her up and flop her around pretty much however since she's learned that A) it never hurts B) she always gets put down gently and C) she gets lots and lots of scritches before, during, and after.

Anywhere else in the house, if I pick her up she'll emit a perfunctory Protest Squawk just to make sure that anyone nearby knows that this was Not Her Idea and that her dignity has been injured. She'll let me hold her, but she refuses to purr even if I give her the nicest scritches in her favorite places. She always gets put down immediately when she starts to squirm, which is helping with building trust. She's a lovely little cat.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:20 PM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I stumbled on this video the other week and decided to see if Zoe might like to be a shoulder cat. We've been working on getting her comfortable with being picked up normally, and it's been slowly, slowly getting better.

So I watched it a couple of times and then eaassssseeed her up towards my shoulder, at which point she gave me a little Don't Do That bite on my arm, so I gently put her down. She made a noise that I have to assume was her saying something nasty about my mother, bit me on the leg, huffed off for two steps, turned around, and bit me again.

No shoulder cat. Copy that.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:43 PM on May 18, 2018 [16 favorites]

My cat loves being held like a baby, but it does give her free access to my face. Fortunately she knows to pat me with claws in. Which is great because she is not a fan of having them clipped. And I'm not sure these videos help. The instructions might as well be, "to clip your cat's claws, first take your extremely placid cat who enjoys lying still during indignities." And the burrito one isn't much better: "first put your cat on a towel. While he doesn't walk away, roll him up and see him not protest or fight at all."
posted by lollusc at 6:48 PM on May 18, 2018 [9 favorites]

The burrito/purrito thing makes NO SENSE to me because he's still able to bite. The only way I could trim my beast's claws is to suffocate him. He'd probably still find a way to injure me.
posted by AFABulous at 9:09 PM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

A++ would squish again.

Actually my cats have made it clear that if I say "Squish that cat!" again tonight it will be fur balls at 3 am

This post seriously made my day.
posted by kitten magic at 1:44 AM on May 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I squished my cat last night during snuggle time and she loved it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:41 AM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Poor Fable has one claw that hurts to be trimmed. She’s a Good Kitty until I start getting close to that one. Then the pitiful cries, scratching, and biting starts.

That said, she’s part Ragamuffin, so is the most tolerant cat. I can squish, lift, shoulder, or pretend that she’s playing the drums, and she don’t care.
posted by greermahoney at 11:36 AM on May 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Underpants Monster and supermedusa caught it - her name is indeed spelled Clawdia, as confirmed by Dr. Burstyn on /r/Vancouver when this showed up there.
posted by porpoise at 2:04 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been slowly converting Tommy into a shoulder cat. I started by picking him up for just a few seconds - not quite long enough for the wigglekicking to set in - followed by pets, praise, and treats. I've been able to increase the shoulder time by long enough to work in the pets and praise while he's up there, though the treats have to wait until my hands are free. He knows he can trust me to put him down either before or as soon as he gets uncomfortable. He grew up on the streets, but he's really taken to this housecatting business.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:05 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is fine.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:13 PM on May 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Good lord, I've heard about this -- cat juggling!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:51 PM on May 19, 2018

mine was a stray from a feral cat colony i got as an adult but immediately began picking her up and cathandling her. so she remains skittish in EVERY way EXCEPT being picked up. she is a shoulder cat extraordinaire. i also do this thing where i lift her up as high as i can over my head, from where she enjoys the view.
posted by wibari at 10:13 PM on May 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is fine.

I had to zoom in to figure out how many or how few cats were in that picture. Black kitties represent!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:20 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's also that hilarious "Cat-Show" style pick up where you lift them under the arms and legs with the belly stretched out, then lift them up towards ceiling and slowly fly them around for the entire living room to admire, while they blink uncomprehendingly. (Note, you don't try this with an overweight cat).
posted by ovvl at 10:55 PM on May 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had to zoom in to figure out how many or how few cats were in that picture

To be fair, he’s roughly the size of two ordinary cats. I brought him to the shelter clinic shortly after I adopted him, at about four months old, and they told me that I’d better be nice to him, because he would be huge. And he is.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:43 AM on May 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

When You squish your cat, you will know right away if he likes it.
posted by mule98J at 8:43 AM on May 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

The shoulder cat kind of reminds me of Ash's Pikachu, who likes to be on his shoulder in Pokemon, though Pikachu faces forward.
posted by Social Science Nerd at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

My kitties prefer to be held in different ways by me and my husband. With me, they like to be held with front paws over my left shoulder so they can look behind me, my right hand supporting their butt and hind legs and my left hand around their shoulders. With my husband, they prefer to be held belly-up in his arms like a baby. If either of us tries to use the other one’s method, the cat immediately gets very uncomfortable and struggles to get loose.

Of course, my kitties also violate the “light touch preferred” advice. They love to be scratched as vigorously as possible. They especially love being brushed with the Zoom Groom (a brush with thick, conical rubber-nub “bristles”), using long massage-like strokes with some pressure. They react to the Zoom Groom like most humans react to Swedish massage. Maybe that falls under “squish that cat” advice?

But with unfamiliar cats, I do default to light touch. I realize that not all cats are as full-contact as mine.
posted by snowmentality at 10:56 AM on May 20, 2018

I tried squishing Triceratops. She disapproved and hissed at me. I clipped her claws and got lightly nibbled. I need Mister Pirate to give her a talking to.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:36 PM on May 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah snowmentality, some cats like to be pet so hard you think you're gonna break them! Ladycat likes me to hold her head in place so that I can scritch her ears with more force than her own neck muscles would be able to support. A friend of mine has a cat who's bigger and stronger, and she likes nothing better than to have me just basically mangle her entire head with my hand. Weirdos.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:40 PM on May 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

My dear departed Mississippi the Maine Coon Cat LOOOVED the Zoom Groom! She'd roll around with it trying to brush herself if I stopped too soon.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:38 AM on May 21, 2018

Atticus the Catticus enjoys being held on his back like a baby for easy tummy rubs, BUT ONLY IN THE LEFT ARM GOD HELP YOU IF YOU TRY IT WITH YOUR RIGHT ARM.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

I just wanted to say I love this post and this thread, and multiple times over the past week, I've come back to reread comments and look at pictures. Thank you. Your cats are now some of my favorite people.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:43 AM on May 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, I tried The Squishing Protocol to get my boys into their carriers for the annual vet visit this morning, and it worked like a charm! It's usually a long, drawn-out process with lots of kicking and scratching.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:31 PM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

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