Is it "OK" to Pick Up My Cat by the Scruff

Not only does it display inappropriate cat handling technique to pick your cat up by the scruff, but lifting or suspending a cat’s entire body weight by the skin on the back of its neck can be potentially painful to the cat and cause a stressful reaction.

Veterinarians were once taught to utilize this antiquated technique for control during exams and procedures, but many feline behaviorists no longer believe that “scruffing” a cat is the best method for administering restraint. We at Animal Hospital of Rowlett certainly don’t!

The “flexor reflex” that kicks in to allow a mother cat to move her kittens only occurs in very young, baby kitties. Gripping the skin in “mother cat” fashion may indeed make it easier for the veterinarian who still utilizes the technique to administer an exam, but we believe it just causes stress and makes the cat more fearful of a visit to the vet.

You can rest assured that as a “cat friendly” practice, we never scruff cats in the exam room. Instead, we use much gentler methods, such as providing cubbies and “hidey-holes,” that allow your cat to relax in the room so our veterinarians and technicians can use looser hold techniques if needed. Does your vet still “scruff?”

Visit our Rowlett Cat Hospital page to see some of the other unique ways we cater to cats.

The proper way for you to pick up your cat is to slide your hands under his chest and legs to support his entire weight evenly between your hands. You can then pull the cat closer to your chest to support his weight against your body. Your grip should be loose, but firm enough to notice any tension.

It’s actually very simple. Treating your cat with respect and proper support not only makes the cat less stressed when visiting the hospital, but also makes it much easier for you next time your feline friend needs to visit the vet.

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