A friend of mine asked me to teach her 7-year old how to properly hold or carry a cat. She said he was practically dragging the cat around by the neck. We had a good half-hour instruction on how to properly hold his kitten. I think he was happy when we got done and I KNOW the kitten was probably happy!
I have been handling cats since i was about 3.5 years old. I don't even remember how I learned how to hold a cat. This cat would get dressed up in dolls clothes and play until he was so tired of playing with a 4 year old. Somehow, I did learn how to properly hold a cat. I do not remember anyone teaching me, although I am sure at one point, my father did. My first cat, Jinx, was a big old tom cat and I could basically do anything to him even though he was a tough, outdoor hunter!
The first thing I did was to show my friend's son how to hold the cat in his arms and make sure he is fully supported and comfortable. I showed him how to pick him up and make sure he is supported, with one hand placed as he sits on it and the other hand steadies him and makes him comfortable and secure. He put kitty in the "Baby cradle" position and they sat like that for several minutes. It was very cute! He went on to pick him up and let him ride on his shoulder! While I did not teach him that move, the kitten climbed right up on his shoulder and looked around and his owner made sure he was fully supported. It was quite a moment!
I also taught him to get down at kitty's level to play. Cats do love when we get down on the floor and play and hold his cat so that he can be on the same level as his human.
All in all, mission accomplished as a new pet owner becomes a responsible pet parent!