HomeHuman to cat relationshipcat welfareIs It Okay To Lift A Cat By The Scruff?


Is It Okay To Lift A Cat By The Scruff? — 5 Comments

  1. Working in a shelter, there are times when it’s necessary to pick up a cat by the scruff. There are times when a cat must be moved between cages for cleaning and sanitizing. Most cats will happily just waltz into a carrier. The newer cats, feral-type cats and high-strung cats sometimes act out. Those need to be scruffed; however, as Michael says, it’s very brief and the free hand supports the butt area so the cat is not floating free-style in the air. Picking up a cat between the front paws/legs is a no-no. It leaves the cat feeling out of control and will squirm and may scratch out of fear. We’ve had to move a very overweight cat occasionally, which is never easy. It’s a two-person job. One volunteer will have a very large crate open and upended (unless it opens from the top). The second volunteer (usually me) will scruff the cat quickly, support the butt and let let gravity take its course putting it into the crate. The entire action takes no more than a few seconds if done properly. Once the cat is in the crate, it is spoken to very softly, we give it a favorite toy and (if not overweight) a little treat. Thank goodness it’s far and few in between.

    • Thanks for this Gail. It is nice to hear about how it is used in a shelter in practice. I can well see how it is a useful method to pacify a cat acting up in a shelter. When I used the technique it was pretty essential as my boy would have resisted without using the method.

      • Only experienced volunteers will scruff a cat, if needed, as there are strict protocols on treatment to avoid mishaps. Even with training, some still don’t feel comfortable scruffing so they let the more experienced to do it.

        On a couple occasions, we had nervous cats get loose in the shelter. One ended up in the rafters. A volunteer had to climb a ladder to get to the rafters, crawl very carefully to where the cat was, then had to scruff that cat while another passed a crate up. We tried for over a week to tempt the cat down with food, we called “experts” from the humane society, yet that little stinker kept getting away. The volunteer who finally got the cat was small in stature and able to squeeze through the small space. Now that it’s over, it was pretty funny.

  2. Thank you for confirming what I thought. A fellow rescue person told me do not do that to our adult cats unless you have to pick the cat up to move it back and forth to the cage and believe you will get bit or scratched severely. And then only for the briefest moment. I will pass on.

    • Gail commented on this and she uses the technique in a shelter. I think it is useful from time to time when essential but but not by the scruff without support from the other hand. In fact there is no advantage in not supporting the cat with the other hand.

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