Position Statement on Scruffing Cats

Scruffing is the process of restraining a cat by firmly gripping the loose skin at the back of its neck – this is often accompanied by lifting the cat up or heavily restraining it in other ways.

Scuffing is not recommended as a method of restraint because it can cause stress and distress to cats. In situations where people are afraid of being bitten by a cat, scruffing is commonly used. Even though it may reduce the risk, scruffing and imposing restraint on a cat can be intimidating, cause fear and panic, and often increase defensive aggression. Therefore, it is counterproductive and compromises the cat’s welfare.

Handling cats gently is less stressful and gives them a sense of control, which is essential for their wellbeing. Veterinary staff and others caring for cats can use educational resources like videos (click here to watch “handling cats for owners”) and written guidelines to use handling techniques that are better for the cat’s welfare, including ways to handle cats showing defensive aggression (such as towel-wrapping and sedation).

As a very last resort for temporary restraint, scruffing may be necessary if there is an imminent threat to the cat or to personnel, but scruffing should never be used routinely.