Does Scruffing Cats Hurt Them?

Does scruffing cats hurt them? The answer is yes, scruffing cats can be painful and stressful for them. Scruffing is a technique used by some pet owners to restrain their cats, but it can be harmful if done incorrectly. In this article, we will explore the potential risks of scruffing cats and discuss alternative methods of restraint.

What is Scruffing?

Scruffing is a common technique used by pet owners and veterinarians to restrain cats. It involves firmly grasping the loose skin on the back of the neck, just above the shoulders, and lifting the cat off the ground. This method can be used to control a cat’s behavior or to move them from one place to another.

Definition of Scruffing

Scruffing is defined as a method of restraining cats by firmly grasping the loose skin on their neck and lifting them off the ground. This technique has been used for centuries by pet owners and veterinarians alike. The goal of scruffing is to control a cat’s behavior or move them from one place to another in a safe manner.

How is Scruffing Done?

Scruffing should be done gently, but firmly, with two hands. The first hand should grasp the loose skin on the back of the neck, just above the shoulders, while the other hand supports their body from underneath. The cat should never be lifted off their feet or shaken while being scruffed. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that this technique only be used when absolutely necessary and for no longer than 30 seconds at a time.

Potential Benefits of Scruffing

Scruffing cats can have a number of potential benefits. It is important to remember that scruffing should only be done with gentle pressure and should never be done to cause pain or distress. When done properly, scruffing can help to calm cats, create a bond between you and your cat, and provide a sense of security.

Calming Effect on Cats

Scruffing cats can have a calming effect on them. This is because it mimics the way that mother cats carry their kittens when they are young. The gentle pressure of scruffing can help cats feel secure and relaxed in situations where they may otherwise feel anxious or scared.

Bonding with Your Cat

Scruffing your cat can also help you to form a strong bond with them. When you scruff your cat, it is important to talk in a soft voice and provide them with positive reinforcement such as petting or treats. This will help your cat associate the act of being scruffed with positive feelings which will create an even stronger bond between you and your cat.

Potential Risks of Scruffing

Scruffing is a common practice used by pet owners and veterinarians to restrain cats. While it may seem like a harmless technique, it can have serious consequences for cats if done incorrectly. The potential risks of scruffing include physical injury to the cat, stress and anxiety in cats, and even long-term behavioral issues.

Physical Injury to the Cat

When scruffing is done incorrectly, it can cause physical injury to the cat. This includes:

  • Bruising
  • Scratching
  • Straining of the neck muscles
  • Damage to the fur or skin

In extreme cases, scruffing can even lead to broken bones or other serious injuries. It is important that pet owners and veterinarians take care when scruffing cats in order to avoid any potential injuries.

Stress and Anxiety in Cats

Scruffing can also cause stress and anxiety in cats, which can lead to long-term behavioral issues. Cats may become fearful or aggressive if they are subjected to scruffing for too long or too often. This can result in them avoiding people or other animals, as well as displaying destructive behaviors such as scratching furniture or urinating outside of their litter box. To minimize stress and anxiety in cats, it is important that pet owners only use scruffing when absolutely necessary and for short periods of time.


Alternatives to Scruffing

Scruffing cats is a controversial technique that can be used to discipline them. While it may be effective in some cases, there are other alternatives that can be used to train cats without causing them pain or distress.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training is a great way to teach cats desired behaviors without using physical force. This type of training uses rewards such as treats and verbal praise to reinforce good behavior and discourage bad behavior. It is important to use consistent rewards and punishments when using positive reinforcement training so that the cat understands what is expected of them.

Redirected Aggression Techniques

Redirected aggression techniques involve redirecting the cat’s aggression away from people or other animals and onto an appropriate object, such as a toy or scratching post. This technique can help reduce aggressive behaviors in cats while also providing an outlet for their energy. It is important to supervise the cat during this process and make sure they are not engaging in any destructive behaviors.

Overall, there are many alternatives to scruffing cats that can be used to effectively train them without causing pain or distress. By using positive reinforcement techniques and redirected aggression techniques, owners can help their cats learn desired behaviors while also keeping them safe and happy.

When Should You Avoid Scruffing?

Scruffing a cat is a common way to restrain them, but it should only be used in certain situations. It should never be done if the cat is in pain or fearful, or if they are not familiar with you.

When the Cat is in Pain or Fearful

Scruffing a cat when they are in pain or fearful can cause further distress and should be avoided. If the cat is injured, scared, or otherwise uncomfortable, it is best to use other methods of restraint such as speaking calmly and offering treats.

When the Cat is Not Familiar with You

If you are not familiar with the cat, scruffing them can cause fear and confusion. It is best to allow the cat to become comfortable with you before attempting to restrain them. This can be done by speaking softly and offering treats until they become more relaxed around you.


Scruffing cats can be painful and stressful for them, and should only be done as a last resort. If you need to restrain your cat, there are alternative methods that are less harmful. It is important to understand the risks associated with scruffing cats and to use other methods of restraint whenever possible. For more information on how to properly restrain your cat, visit A Pet’s Home.

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