Properly scruffing a cat does take some knowledge. Rather than “practicing” scruffing your cat, learn how to scruff your cat properly before you even attempt it. Improperly scruffing a cat can be painful to both you and the cat. Here’s how to scruff a cat:
- Understand when to use it. Scruffing a cat is one way to get them to stop moving instantly. They will be unable to move their head to attack you or another person or animal. When done properly, scruffing a cat is safe for both you and the cat. Although it isn’t exactly comfortable for the cat, especially an older one, when done properly it won’t cause any damage.
- Understand the variables. Your ability to scruff a cat depends on the cat’s age, weight, familiarity with you, and tameness. It may even change from day to day. Don’t expect to be able to walk up to an unknown cat and be able to scruff it. In fact, this can be quite dangerous. Cats are very temperamental.
- Remain calm. If you are impatient or worked up, scruffing your cat can be much more difficult, and you may even get scratched in the process.
- Understand where to scruff a cat. Cats have extra skin around their neck. By grabbing this extra skin, you are not harming the cat.
- Consider using a towel. A towel can be helpful for feral cats or those who are particularly difficult to scruff. A hand towel may be large enough, though a bath towel is better for larger cats. Place the towel over the cat. This will usually cause a cat to hunker down and stop moving.
- Scruff the cat. Place your hand at the base of the cat’s head. Your hand should be placed below the ears and above the shoulders. Grab the cat’s scruff, or the loose skin located here, at the base of the neck. Grab a comfortable amount of skin, pulling up slightly. The skin should pull up, with very little resistance. Long-haired cats are often harder to scruff because of the thick layer of hair over their skin. Most cats will become completely still when scruffed; many will visibly relax their muscles.
- Pick up the cat. You can now pick up the cat to move it. If you are trying to immobilize the cat, flip him over onto its back using your hold on the neck. Once this is done, you may want to wrap the cat in the towel so that his feet are secured.
- Let go. Grown cats should not be held by the scruff of their neck for any length of time, because this can be painful. Feral or unhappy cats should be held at arms length to avoid a conflict between you and the cat. Reassure your cat after you let go. Always speak softly and calmly when scruffing a cat.
Scruffing a cat should be done infrequently, only when you need to control him and other methods have failed. Never scruff a cat simply to get them off your favorite seat on the couch, for example.