How to Hold a Cat by the Neck: 15 Steps

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How to Hold a Cat by the Neck: 15 Steps
How to Hold a Cat by the Neck: 15 Steps

Cats have a very malleable skin around their necks called the scruff, through which you can lift them in times of need. Catching them that way seems uncomfortable and even cruel, but that's far from the truth; lifting the cat like this is very useful for controlling it, but there is a right way to do it. Practicing and reading about it will help you to hold any pussy securely.


Part 1 of 2: Safely Lifting the Cat

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 1

Step 1. Clean yourself of any unpleasant smells for the cat

Very strong perfumes and colognes can be bothersome to his sensitive sense of smell and the dog smell can be particularly unpleasant.

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 2

Step 2. Let the cat feel free before trying to catch him

Caress gently, let it relax by rubbing it in your hand. Perhaps this is the most time-consuming step, but it depends on the pussy's temperament.

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 3

Step 3. Take off the collar, if he has one

Although it is possible to lift him by the neck with the collar, this should only be done by someone experienced so as not to hurt him. The scruff is quite flexible, but the collar is not, and you could accidentally choke the cat.

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 4

Step 4. Place the cat on a firm surface

Anything like a table or counter will do. The floor is also an option, especially if the cat feels more comfortable on it.

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 5

Step 5. Pick up the cat when he is relaxed and awake

Put your hand on the back of his head and use it all the way to the soft skin. Try to hold it close to your ears to restrict movement and prevent it from biting you.

  • As you pick up the scruff, see if its ears retract a little. This is a sign that you did it correctly.
  • Do not lift it yet and check for excess skin. You'll notice the exaggeration around the neck, where the fabric will be taut. Also, the cat will let you know it is uncomfortable; slowly release the scruff.
  • Try not to take so little that you pinch the cat. Adjust the footprint if necessary.
  • You'll notice that he doesn't really mind being held like this (unless he's very skittish) and he might not even move. To give you an idea, doing this may be enough to stop a wrong behavior, calm you down, let you cut your claws and even take medicine!
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 6

Step 6. Lift up by the scruff

Before you begin, remember that no cats need to be held up like this, especially older cats. The only situation in nature where this occurs is when they are puppies and the mother has to move them from place to place. Otherwise, this is absolutely unnecessary.

Simply holding it by the scruff is enough in most situations, but if you need to lift it too, remember that puppies are lighter and therefore easier to lift

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 7

Step 7. Take great care when lifting a heavy cat

There is a limit to how much a cat's skin and muscle can withstand at a single point of pull. You could end up causing a painful injury. So use both hands, one on the scruff and one underneath, to support the weight.

  • After catching a big cat's scruff, put your other hand under its back. Some cats are so big that you'll have to use your entire arm to get hold of the back.
  • Only lift him when his back is properly supported.
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 8

Step 8. Don't keep the cat suspended for too long

While it's not painful (if done correctly), holding it like this for a long time can be uncomfortable. Not even the most patient cat would be able to stay in this position, and yours may start twitching and kicking with its hind legs to get free.

  • It is essential to remember that the cat is in a very vulnerable position, which shows that he trusts you blindly. However, if you are aggressive or try to pick him up in a hurry, he will notice and may not cooperate.
  • Ready. Now your cat is suspended by the scruff. He will probably look at you and wait until you put him down. He might even try to say “Hey, let's stop this? Put me down, human” with a sweet meow.
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 9

Step 9. Release the scruff

Gently put the cat back on the ground or surface and release his scruff.

  • After all that, give a treat as positive reinforcement to recognize the cat's good behavior. In addition to snacks, this can be done with affection, a joke and even verbally.
  • Do not drop the cat's scruff in the air. A healthy cat won't get hurt, but your pussy will certainly notice that you're not so careful and won't let him catch you in the future.

Part 2 of 2: Discovering when and why to hold a cat by the scruff

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 10

Step 1. Understand why it is easier to control a cat in this position

When cats are kittens, their mothers use their mouths to carry and control them by the scruff of their necks. You've probably seen this already; note that the puppies automatically retract their paws and become immobile. Many cats continue this reflex into adulthood.

Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 11

Step 2. Know in which situations not to catch a cat by the neck

In general, avoid doing this in agitated situations that make the cat tense, and see if it can be hurt by being held up like this.

  • For example, just as you wouldn't want to be woken up like this, your cat won't be happy either. He will wake up quite scared.
  • Another situation is during the meal. Let him finish eating before doing anything that involves lifting him by the scruff. By the way, leave it alone when it's time to eat ever. No scaring him with a cucumber.
  • See if he is agitated or excited, it can be very difficult to lift a cat in these conditions. It doesn't matter if you're joking or angry, he'll probably scratch or bite you.
  • Do not do this with an elderly, obese, or sick cat (especially with arthritis). Lifting your neck can strain your neck muscles and leave you with very painful injuries.
  • Some cats just don't have much skin around their necks. If that's the case with your pussy, don't try to lift it that way.
  • Some cats feel humiliated or embarrassed when held up by the scruff, except for kittens.
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 12

Step 3. Lift it up by its scruff when you need to cut its claws

No cat likes having its claws clipped, so hold it still to get it clipped faster and avoid bites.

  • Do this when the cat is calm and don't try to cut the claws after an intense play session.
  • Use a very firm surface to hold it and cut the claws. Both you and he will be more comfortable this way. Two people may be needed (one secures and the other cuts).
  • It is not necessary to lift the cat to cut the claws and give medicine. Pull his head slightly closer to the surface you are on and use your other hand to support his back.
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 13

Step 4. Hold him by the scruff to comb and remove the knots from the fur

Pulling the knots out of the fur can be uncomfortable and painful for the pussy and it will try to get loose. Hold it carefully by the scruff so that it stays still.

  • Just like to cut the claws, before picking him up by the scruff, place him on a flat surface.
  • Use a comb with spaced teeth.
  • With your free hand, hold the knot close to the skin and comb from the bottom and up, as you would your own hair.
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 14

Step 5. Hold the cat by the scruff when you need to administer some medicine

It's pretty hard to get the pussies to swallow the medicine, but holding it that way will make it stand still for you to introduce the medicine.

  • Clip the scruff and hold it on the table.
  • To give a pill, gently pull the head back and place it into the cat's mouth.
  • For injectable drugs, it's safer to take it to the vet. He will know how to hold the cat and how to insert the needle without harming the pussy.
Hold a Cat by the Scruff Step 15

Step 6. Use the grip to discipline him

Don't overuse this technique, the situation can even get worse if you do.

  • If really necessary, pick it up and say "not”, to let him know he did something wrong.
  • Don't be aggressive when doing this. In addition to hurting him, he will become more agitated and lose confidence in you.


  • Catching the cat's scruff is easier on docile cats. Skittish, independent cats can hate this.
  • The animal will clearly warn if it is in pain. He can meow, growl and try to fight. On the other hand, he can also instinctively stay still and be silent, which would help him avoid predators in a wild habitat. Notice if he is in pain and release him.
  • If you are still unsure how to catch a cat by the scruff of the neck, ask the vet to show you.
  • Despite being a good method of restricting movement, this should only be tried when everything else has failed.


  • Don't catch other species that way. Some animals will likely bite you, while others may be seriously injured.
  • Don't think your cat can't turn around and attack in this position. To prevent this from happening, hold it close to your ears.
  • If you lift your cat the wrong way, it can seriously damage the muscles and skin of its neck. Ask the vet how to do it, ask for a demonstration, a class if necessary.
  • Do not attempt this with a cornered or agitated cat. Only a professional veterinarian should attempt to immobilize a cat with this temperament type.

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