Why You Shouldn’t Scruff a Cat


Scruffing has been a typical observe in cat dealing with for a very long time. It’s the tactic of cat restraint most veterinary professionals have been initially taught. Scruffing is the place the cat is grasped by the unfastened pores and skin on the again of the neck. Regardless that this restraining method has been extensively used for therefore lengthy, it’s important to study why it must be prevented in most conditions. There are extra humane strategies for dealing with and controlling a cat.

What’s Scruffing?

There are completely different ranges of scruffing, starting from a delicate maintain to a agency grasp of the pores and skin in the back of the neck, relying on whether or not a cat requires delicate, reasonable, or extreme restraint. Sadly, scruffing has additionally been used to carry and carry a cat. Usually, the hind ft are additionally supported, nonetheless, in some cases, the cat could also be left with the majority of the physique weight dangling within the air throughout transport.


Scruffing is usually used to utterly immobilize a cat the place the neck is tightly grabbed, the hind ft are held, and the cat is stretched out for examination or another process.

The argument for scruffing is that it supposedly mimics how kittens go limp when the mom cat picks them up this manner. Sadly, a human can’t replicate the precise quantity of strain a mom cat makes use of, in addition to different physique language alerts from mother to kitten. Moreover, kittens are solely scruffed throughout their first few weeks of life. The younger kittens, when held this manner, reflexively freeze, and curl up their legs. In the course of the first few weeks of life when kittens aren’t very cell, this means for the mom cat to choose up her kittens shortly, permits her to effectively transfer them if she senses hazard or if a kitten strays too far. This reflex in kittens diminishes as they develop. One other truth about how the mom grasps the kittens along with her tooth is that she is aware of precisely how a lot chunk strain to use to the pores and skin to keep away from inflicting any harm.

What’s Unsuitable with Scruffing?

It may be painful and distressing. This could vary from discomfort to outright ache. Scruffing can create concern and will create a adverse affiliation with the one that did the scruffing, or the setting the place the cat has the expertise. It might erode belief and the cat could begin to turn into scared of any sort of dealing with.

Scruffing is usually misused as a coaching technique for disciplining a cat. That is an ineffective and inhumane try at coaching. The cat received’t affiliate scruffing with the undesirable habits however will affiliate the distressing expertise with the individual doing the scruffing. Coaching by punishment does nothing to show the cat the specified habits. The correct technique of coaching is to establish the explanation for the habits so you possibly can provide what the cat wants. Whenever you use a optimistic, force-free coaching method, it units the cat as much as succeed and strengths the bond.

Scruffing could result in elevated aggression. Scruffing could put a cat in a defensive place the place he feels he should shield himself by biting or scratching.

Higher Options to Scruffing

To keep away from having to scruff your cat to wrestle him into the provider for a visit to the veterinary clinic, observe these steps to coach your cat to be comfy with the provider and journey:

  • Depart the provider out. Place the provider someplace impartial in your house (not close to the litter field or feeding station). Place a folded towel inside to make it extra inviting as a spot to nap.


  • Use treats. Start by leaving treats close to the provider after which ultimately on high and inside. It will encourage your cat to discover the provider at his personal tempo and obtain a reward for getting nearer.


  • Shut the provider door. When your cat is comfy going out and in of the provider, you possibly can briefly shut the door when he’s in there, then open it once more and provide a direct reward.


  • Carry the provider. Along with your cat contained in the provider, gently carry it and stroll across the room. It will assist your cat get extra comfy with the motion. Place the provider again down, open the door, and provide a reward.


  • Trial Run within the Automobile. First get the cat comfy with being in his provider within the automotive. Don’t flip the engine on the primary few occasions. Whenever you really feel the cat is prepared, begin the engine and let the cat get used to that sensation. The subsequent step is to do some trial runs within the automotive the place you simply go on brief journeys.


  • Create consolation. Your cat could really feel extra comfy if there’s a lightweight towel draped over the provider. Spritz the towel frivolously with Feliway. Don’t play loud music whereas within the automotive. Use a mushy tone of voice as you drive to reassure your cat.


  • Be affected person. Go at your cat’s tempo. Coaching could take time however it can hopefully make future journeys to the veterinary clinic much less disturbing for each you and your cat.


On the Veterinary Clinic

  • Don’t pull the cat out of the provider. Whenever you place the provider on the examination desk, open the provider door and provides your cat a couple of minutes to regulate. The cat could stroll out of the provider on his personal. If he does step out of the provider, give him time to analyze the room. If the cat stays within the provider, you possibly can take away the highest (if utilizing a kennel type). This manner, your cat can stay within the backside half for many of the examination.


  • Towels are useful. If the cat should be faraway from the provider, a towel could be gently positioned over him quite than scruffing. There are numerous towel restraint strategies that can be utilized with cats. The one your veterinarian chooses will probably be based mostly on what a part of the cat’s physique must be seen. Your veterinarian and veterinary technicians are aware of the kind of wrapping methods. When utilizing a towel wrap restraint technique, care should be taken to not wrap so tightly that it causes the cat to have problem in respiratory. Many cats may even really feel much less anxious if they’ll disguise their head beneath a towel or blanket. For those who go to a Worry-Free licensed veterinary clinic, they are going to be properly educated in low-stress, force-free dealing with methods.


  • Use treats. Throughout an examination, having treats comparable to Churu, or one your cat prefers, could present sufficient of a optimistic distraction so the veterinarian can carry out no matter examination or process is required with minimal stress to the animal. For some cats, distractions comparable to toys, feathers, pheromone spray, or catnip work properly too.


  • Observe the cat’s lead. Some cats really feel extra comfy being on the cat mother or father’s lap, on the ground, or being held. What issues is that the dealing with technique used is the least disturbing to the cat whereas being most secure for all concerned (cat, veterinarian, technician, and cat mother or father).


  • Light holding. If the cat is frightened or exhibiting aggression and should be picked up and carried, being securely wrapped in a towel whereas having his head lined and physique utterly supported is one of the best technique.


  • The safety of hiding. Towels and blankets could be one of the best supply of safety when on the veterinary clinic. They permit the cat to really feel hidden they usually shield the individual doing the dealing with from harm.


Pay Consideration to What the Cat Wants

When it’s worthwhile to deal with a cat who’s fearful or extremely pressured, take a second and take note of what the cat’s physique language is saying. You’ll get clues as to what may de-escalate the state of affairs. Pause earlier than leaping proper into dealing with to find out if providing a deal with, a toy distraction, permitting the cat to cover beneath a towel, reducing the lights, or another light technique will create an setting the place the cat doesn’t must resort to self-defense.

Right here’s a video from the late Dr. Sophia Yin, exhibiting how even a feral cat could be examined with out scruffing.

Want Extra Info?

For extra info on cat habits and coaching, seek advice from the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Pam’s books can be found at bookstores and on-line. We’ve included hyperlinks to Amazon right here on our web site.




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