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Why I Don’t Carry Fluffs By The Scruff (Scruffing Cats Only When Medically Necessary)

The repercussions of scruffing cats can be detrimental and damaging to relationships, behavior, and even their physical health. According to the ASPCA’s Manager of Applied Research, Natasha Drain, “Scruffing a cat, where you firmly grasp the skin at the top of the neck or base of the head, can cause some cats to become defensive — and it may not be necessary for all cats.”

That’s why I only scruff cats as a last resort if I have to restrain a cat quickly in a life and death situation. I prefer to approach cats with respect and use more gentle and comfortable techniques for picking up and moving them.

mama-scruffs-carries-kittenAlthough scruffing cats does cause kittens bodies to freeze, few respected veterinary professionals condone using this tactic unless they’re left with absolutely no option. At best, scruffing cats increases their anxiety and fear for the person who does it to them. It can also be painful and lead to increased aggressive behavior against that human and also in general.

Experts believe scruffing cats frightens them because it’s a sign that they’re in imminent danger. Mother cats scruff cats when she needs to remove them from danger, which could explain why cats’ bodies are more tense when this is done to them.

It causes extreme pain when cats are scruffed incorrectly or when cats are lifted by the scruff without their body being supported underneath. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen very few non-veterinary professionals correctly scruff cats. That is, chances are you’re doing it wrong and are hurting your cat.

Some of the sources below describe alternative, preferred techniques.

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