Can You Pick Up A Cat By The Scruff?

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  • Can I pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck?

    No, a kitten or cat should not be picked up by the scruff of the neck.

    The scruff is the loose skin at the back of the cat’s neck and it may seem logical to carry a cat this way, after all, this is how mother cats carry her kittens around. When a mother picks up her kitten by the scruff, he instinctively tucks up his legs and stays still. But bear in mind that young kittens are considerably lighter than adult cats and the mother has no other way to grasp her kitten, having opposable thumbs means we do.

    Carrying a cat by the scruff, with no support places a lot of stress on the neck and spine, causing serious injury, as well as being quite painful to your cat. Also, the mother cat doesn’t have the benefit of two hands that are perfectly capable of picking up a cat safely and comfortably, we do.

    How should you pick up a cat?

    The best and kindest way to pick up your cat is to place one arm underneath the cat, and wrap the other arm around his side, pull him in so that he is close to your body.

    What about scruffing to control a cat?

    Some veterinarians will scruff your cat to hold him down (such as when giving medications or giving him a medical examination). Fear free methods have taken over forcible restraining in the care of cats and scruffing even in a medical situation is not the preferred method.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio