Why Is Scruffing A Cat A Bad Idea? – Cat Scruffing

The phrase ‘Grab them by the scruff’ gained traction due to the popular practice of scruffing a cat among the pet owners. People have believed cat scruffing to be an effective way of controlling the cat for ages but it’s been recent that voices of the vets and feline experts have been emerging against it. If you have been practicing or told that to scruff a cat is a good idea, then you must read below too.


The basics of scruffing

Scruffing is the name of an act performed over the cats where they are held tightly or firmly by the back of their neck. It is the loose skin in this portion that is caught actually. Sometimes this act goes on to the cat getting lifted with the skin held still or restrained heavily in some other way.

People generally say that they do so when they feel threatened by the cat tending to bite them or see the cat behaving aggressively. This act has been propagated as a good quip that can help to keep the cats under control. It is also supported by the fact that the felines practice it themselves as the mother cats do it with their kittens.

In some cases, the practice is followed by certain vets too where they scruff a cat to immobilize them for easier grooming or medical treatment.

Natural situations that involve cat being scruffed

Cat scruffing is surely a thing but the real nature of it has been hugely misunderstood and mistreated by the people. Cats get scruffed in certain natural situations that are completely different from the ones in which pet owners scruff them. Let us tell you about the different situations when the cats get scruffed.

scruffing a cat

Kittens are moved through scruffing

You may have seen cats carrying their kittens in the same way scruffing is done. Well, that’s the way mother cats carry their kittens to move them from one place to another. The newly born kittens have a natural flexor reflex that gets activated with the scruff and they go limp, thus, it becomes easier for the mother to carry them without any retorting.

It is very clear that it is not any disciplinary action and has been misunderstood by humans. Besides, the mother felines understand how to make the hold rightly without hurting the kitten at all. We are not equipped with that art, so isn’t it better that we leave it to them?

Cats scruff during mating

It is also during mating that the cats get scruffed to avoid any resistance and get better support. It is usually the male cat that scruffs the female while mounting over her. He does so for two purposes- to attain a better position and hold the female firmly against any resistance from her side.

Mating is generally a painful experience for the female due to the unique anatomy of the male genitals that aims at stimulating female ovulation but in the process hurts them too. This, sometimes, makes the females attack the males and it is here that scruffing a cat comes handy for the males.

Predator scruffs the cat while attacking

Scruffing is also a handy weapon for the bigger predators that prey at mammals including cats. While trying to grab the cats, they go straight for the neck and scruff them at the rear side to make them stealth. Clearly, this isn’t a regulating behavior at all; rather it is aggression.

Reasons why you scruffing the cat is bad

It must now have become clear to you that scruffing isn’t a natural act allowed to be done by humans. People generally practice cat scruff as a disciplinary measure that involves punishing or frightening the cat. However, it can turn to become extremely counterproductive and result in serious problems.

Disturb the cats

Scruffing to reprimand the cat is a super-bad idea as it can instill stress, anxiety, fear, or insecurity in them. Cats are naturally notorious and punishing them this bad for their acts may make them behave even more until they become depressed. They might become even more aggressive due to the stimuli to respond to fear.

A wasted attempt at disciplining them

Scruffing may stop the cat from behaving instantly but they won’t learn any lesson as the punishment like scruff a cat is too hard to generate any positive result. They will still find other ways to behave the same as the frightening would last only for the moment.

Affect your bond with the cat

Startling the cats with such harsh acts can cause them to feel scared when you are around. This would affect the pet-owner bond and cause behavioral issues in them.

The better alternative to scruffing

Controlling a behaving cat doesn’t have to be harsh necessarily and you can opt for the gentler methods that might also prove more effective.

  • Let them use at least one limb at the time. The cat must always be allowed some sense of control no matter what the situation is.
  • Distract them with other things like their favorite toy, food, or anything else.
  • You can use the method of towel wrap where you can cover the body of the cat in a towel including the head but only with enough pressure to allow breathing nicely.
  • You can also swaddle the cats to make them stop with the gushing feeling of comfort.
  • Never rush to do anything which the cat is resisting.
  • Understand and observe the cat’s behavior and body language to find the better way out.
  • Also, check for any medical issue or alarming situation that the cat might be pointing at.


Scruffing a cat is not at all the option for you to train or, worse, punish them. Your cat deserves better treatment just like all of us do and they mustn’t be forced to do anything. Understand that cat scruffing is a natural act that happens in specific circumstances and you are not allowed to mimic it for any private purpose.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.