Some people pick their cats up by their scruff — the scruff is the loose skin on the back of their neck. When they are a kitten it’s not really a problem, but once they are full grown adults, grabbing them by the scruff without supporting their bottom can be painful. So here are some tips about how to pick up your cat by the scruff.
Picking up cats by the scruff is actually meant for kittens under the age of 6 months. Scruffing them is the way the mother moves her kittens around when they are dependant on her. She gently holds them by the loose skin in her neck with her mouth and carries them all one by one to their new place. Scruffing them makes the kitten go limp so the mother can hold them without a problem. Holding a cat this way is only a good idea when they are still very small, but once they are older than 6 months the weight of your cat is too much and will cause them pain.
The Right Way To Scruff A Cat
When you want to scruff your cat for example to clip their nails or medical exams, an adult cat should always be supported by their back legs and bottom when they are picked up by their scruff. Scruffing your cat will most of the times (not always) calm down your pet when it’s done humanely and gently.
When dealing with a cat when they are angry, stressed out or are angry, cats either want to attack or run away, or both. Scruffing can be used to control the head of the cat so they won’t be able to bite you while you can also safely hold the cat and possibly calm them down. This should always be done together with the support from a (exam) table or supporting their bottom.
When the cat is wearing a collar it’s best to remove it before scruffing them. It’s not recommended, but it’s a good idea anyway. The scruff is flexible, and the collar is not. Scruffing the cat while they are wearing a collar may make it tighten around the neck by accident.
When you’re done holding him, put the cat down gently but don’t let go of the scruff immediately or while you’re still holding him in the air (and supporting his legs and bottom). Wait until your cat is on the floor, then slowly let go. You can also do some petting, talking and treats to make it a positive experience for your cat.
What Not To Do
Scruffing an adult cat without supporting the back end. Some cats can become very heavy and scruffing them — and letting them hang can cause serious injury to the neck muscles and skin. When your cat doesn’t have a lot of scruff — it happens — it’s best to try another method.