You may have seen a kitten being scruffed by its mama. The kitten goes limp. Vets scruff cats all the time as they carry out medical tests and procedures, but cats generally perceive being scruffed as an aggressive action. Scruffing is only safe when mama cats or veterinarians safely do so.
It’s a Safety Issue
Your fur baby may seem to go limp and exhibit submissive behavior when you scruff him, but he doesn’t really care for it. He perceives being scruffed as being put into a submissive posture and, if he’s the alpha cat in your home, he’s not gonna like it much. Prepare for an upset cat to glare volumes at you as he slinks off to hide.
Look at how tiny a kitten is in comparison to his mama-cat. She knows how to scruff safely, and even when she puts her little one down, she’ll lick his skin to soothe any hurt he may have experienced.
Your Cat isn’t Relaxing
Run one hand down your cat-dude’s neck. If you feel a bunch of loose skin just below the base of his skull, this is his scruff. While it looks as if he’s relaxing into that hunched posture when you scruff him and pull him up -- yikes -- your cat is actually responding by taking a still, submissive posture.
Your cat might also seem unable to move freely when he’s scruffed. It’s actually more an instinctive action that allows a mama cat to carry her baby from one area to another.
Scruffing Aggravates Kitty
If you’ve begun to scruff your cat-dude as a way of disciplining him when he’s done wrong, it’s going to backfire on you. Because you’re so much bigger than he is, he’ll become fearful and aggressive afterward.
Vets scruff cats when drawing blood or giving injections as a way of preventing themselves from being bitten by a frightened feline. When your vet scruffs your fur baby, the cat is unable to turn his head sufficiently to sink his canine teeth into the person giving the owie to him.
Scruffing Can Cause Physical Injury
The bigger your cat-dude is, the more likely he is to be injured if you should scruff him and raise him from the ground. That loose bunch of skin at the back of his neck might seem strong enough to support his weight, but he could actually be injured with torn skin. When he feels the pain of ripped skin, he will really become angry, which is what you do not want.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.