Cats can vary significantly in their comfort level at being carried. Some cats won't let you hold them at all, others might allow it but glare at you with quiet scorn, while still others might absolutely love it, even seeking out a person's arms or shoulders as their preferred perch.
With this in mind, Dr. Uri Burstyn, also known as the Helpful Vancouver Vet on YouTube, has put together a comprehensive guide for how to carry your cat the way that cats like to be carried, so that you can safely transfer your pet no matter what kind of cat you might have. Burstyn's advice focuses on the positions that make cats feel most secure, but also on positions that keep a cat's human handler from getting "raked," as Burstyn likes to say.
Even if your cat loves to be handled, Burstyn's guide might still surprise you. Chances are, you've been holding your cat wrong, and the positions he suggests are probably not what you might expect. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that cats want to be squished. As Burstyn says in his video, "if you do have a cat that's trying to get away from you, always squish that cat."
"All you need to know about cat restraint is to squish. that. cat."
Cat squishing seems to be at the very core of his advice.
Burstyn insists that when cats are squished under the pressure of your hands or under your arm, that this helps them feel more secure. You don't have to worry about harming them, he says, because "they are very, very tough little beasts."
Furthermore, Burstyn's recommended method for carrying a cat (while also keeping them squished) is what he calls "the football carry." The position works much like how you might picture it, with the cat under your arm as if you were carrying a football. What might surprise you about this position, however, is the direction Burstyn recommends the cat face. This screenshot says it all:
Even though it might seem counterintuitive, the cat that Burstyn is demonstrating with does seem perfectly comfortable with the position. It might be worth testing it with your cat, though, before employing it indiscriminately.
The video goes on to demonstrate how best to handle your feline if it likes to sit on your shoulder. If you've got a shoulder cat, Burstyn's advice is more about helping you safely pick up the cat and let it down while avoiding getting clawed.
The advice, although perhaps unconventional, is all with the best of intentions, and it's certainly worth subjecting your cat to, to see how well it works.
Just remember: when in doubt, squish that cat.