Tips n Tricks How to Safely Scruff your Cat

Published on March 31st, 2015 | by Debbie Martin


How to Safely Scruff Your Cat

One of the most important things that cat owners are keen to learn is how to scruff your cat. This is the act of grabbing a cat safely by the scruff of his neck.

While this sounds incredibly simple, it is something that needs to be done right in order to avoid harming the cat. The following steps will show you when you can do this and how to do it.

Why Do It?

Before we go into the details of how to grab a cat in this way, it is worth thinking about why we do it in the first place. Scruffing is a way of easily controlling and containing a cat when you need to do so. When a mother cat wants to pick up one of her kittens she will use her mouth to do so, grabbing the little one by the scruff of the neck. In this situation the kitten will instinctively become still and calm. The fact that many older cats still react in this way means that scruffing them is a fine way to control your cat for him to receive medicine or get groomed. You can also do this while you give them training or for safety reasons.

The Mains Reasons for Using Scruffing

As we have just seen, there are certain types of situation in which grabbing a cat by the scruff of the neck can be a very good idea. So what are the specific tasks that you could carry out or get someone to do while you are doing it? A good example is when your cat needs to get their nails trimmed. It is also a useful technique for when you need to comb out their matted hair, give them medication or apply first aid. This way of holding a cat firmly is often used by mothers to sort out bad behaviour in kittens and you could also use it in this way too.

When Not to Do It

While scruffing a cat is a very useful way of controlling them, you should be extremely careful about doing so when they are angry or appear to be agitated. In this sort of situation you may make things worse by lifting them up by the scruff of the neck. They might not go limp and passive when you do this. In fact, it could make them angrier and cause them to attempt to bite or scratch you. In general terms, you should only look to scruff a cat that is calm and that you trust to behave well. If you are in doubt then don’t use this method.

Getting Started

The key to scruffing a cat correctly and safely is to get hold of them in the right way. This means that you need to firmly grasp them by the loose skin on the back of the neck. You should do this as close to the ear as you can. The reason for this is that you can control them more the closer to the ears you have your hands. If they usually wear a collar then you will find that it is easier to scruff them if you take the collar off first. This is a safer approach as well, as the collar might tighten if you grab them with this still on. You might want to give them a pet in their favourite spot a few times before do this to make sure that you don’t surprise them! You definitely don’t want to do it while are sleeping.

Scruffing for Examination or for Medical Reasons

Now we need to consider that you need to do this in slightly different ways depending upon your reasons for scruffing the cat in the first place. If you are doing this for a medical examination or some other medical reasons then there are a couple of specific things you need to do while grasping them by the scruff of the neck. The first thing to remember is to gently but firmly push the head down so that they end up lying quietly on the table. You should then use your other hand to hold down their rear end and control the movement of the hind legs.

Scruffing for Discipline

If you are planning on scruffing a cat for discipline reasons then you need to do things slightly differently. In this case, you should repeat the word “no” firmly while you do this. You should also hold him down at the same time. You can then release him once you feel that he relaxes.

Lifting While Scruffing

Mother cats will often scruff their kittens when they need to move them from one place to another. While this is the most practical way for a cat to carry around their little ones, it something that we should only do when strictly necessary. If you feel then you need to lift him while scruffing then you should take extra care. You can do this by putting your free hand under his hindquarters as you pick him up. Keep his weight supported in this way until you can pick him down again safely.

Other Points to Remember

There are a few other points to be bear in when scruffing a cat in this way. One thing to remember is that this isn’t something that is comfortable for a cat. They may be calm and limp when you do it but that definitely doesn’t mean that they enjoy it. This means that you should only really use scruffing when there is no alternative to doing it. If you are using it as way of controlling and disciplining your cat then you should be aware that it will lose effectiveness if you do it a lot. Additionally, once you put them back down again you should always take time to give them a pet and tell him how well they behaved. Finally, before you scruff your cat you should always check with a vet in order to get it just right.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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