Cats are very particular critters that like to be handled a certain way. Therefore, it’s very important to both cats and their humans that we pick them up in a manner that feels comfortable and safe. Trust me, there will be consequences if you screw this up — painful ones, physically and emotionally.

In a new video, which is trending on YouTube for obvious reasons, veterinarian Yuri Burstyn of Helpful Vancouver Vet shows viewers how to properly handle their furbabies. Two kitties — Mr. Pirate and Clawdia — bravely volunteered to help out.

Here’s a basic breakdown:

Step 1: Proceed With Caution (And Cuddles)

“When you’re approaching a cat, it’s nice to introduce yourself,” Burstyn, who seems like the Mr. Rogers of veterinarians, explains. “Let them sniff your hand… notice I keep my fingers curled a little bit.” He then recommends scratching the kitty on its fluffy face, just to be sure it truly wants your attention.

cat holding
Clawdia and Dr. Burstyn

Step 2: Make That Fluffer Feel Comfy

“The key to picking up a cat safely is to make them feel supported,” Burstyn explains. “I always pick up a cat with one hand under the chest [and] one hand under the abdomen.”

It sort of looks like this:

how to pick up a cat
Good! Yes! Correct!

Step 3: Don’t Be A Dingus!

It’s important to keep your kitty evenly supported — if not, the cat could get spooked and scratch you.

“What’s gonna happen is the cat will start to scramble for perches, and they’ll issue their hind legs,” Burstyn explains. “This is probably the most common way people get injured from cats. If I need to carry a cat I hold them close to my body, squishing them into myself.” This makes the cat feel comfortable and supported.

Here’s Clawdia to demonstrate what that looks like — note the Dr. Burstyn’s hand support her paws:

clawdia the cat
Happy Clawdia! Good job, human!

Other experts agree: Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t pick up a cat that’s giving off signs it’s doesn’t want to be touched.

“Be sensitive to your cat’s tolerance levels and always have a purpose for picking her up,” animal behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett writes on Cat Behavior Associates. “If your cat loves being held, then enjoy that closeness, but if she doesn’t, be respectful of the fact that lifting her up changes her level of security.”

Step 4: Snuggle that Kitty!

The final product should look a little something like this:

cat holding
The ideal way to hold a cat

Let’s say your cat doesn’t like to be held, but you have to carry it somewhere — into its cat carrier to take him/her to the vet, for example. Burstyn says it’s even more important to “squish that cat.”

All you have to know about cat restraint is to squish that cat,” he explains. “They feel really safe that way.”

cat pick up
Good kitty.

With “shoulder cats” like Mr. Pirate, all you have to do is bend over and let the cat scramble its way up. Again, be sure to squish the cat and keep it supported.

cat pick up
Shoulder kitty time!!!!

Even if you don’t have a cat, I recommend watching this video for its calming effect. Enjoy!

How to pick up a cat, according to a vet.