Can You Scruff an Adult Cat? Exploring the Dos and Don'ts of Cat Handling

Cat Handling Techniques

Handling cats can sometimes be a tricky task, especially when they are fully grown adults. Cats have different preferences and sensitivities when it comes to physical touch and handling. It is important to understand the dos and don'ts of cat handling to ensure you can safely and effectively interact with adult cats.

One commonly debated technique is scruffing – grabbing a cat by the loose skin on the back of their neck. In this article, we will explore the dos and don'ts of cat handling, including whether you can scruff an adult cat and how to properly handle them.

Dos and Don'ts of Cat Handling

can you scruff an adult cat

Before we dive into the specifics of scruffing, let's establish some general dos and don'ts of cat handling:


  • Approach cats calmly and slowly.
  • Allow the cat to sniff and investigate you before attempting to touch them.
  • Always support their body when picking them up.
  • Use gentle and slow movements.
  • Give them space when they show signs of discomfort.
  • Be patient and build trust over time.


  • Force interaction if the cat is not receptive.
  • Pick them up by their front legs or tail.
  • Make sudden loud noises that may startle them.
  • Corner or trap the cat, causing them to feel threatened.
  • Ignore their body language and warning signs of aggression or fear.

Scruffing Cats

Scruffing is a technique commonly used with kittens, where their mother would carry them by the scruff of their neck. However, it is important to note that scruffing adult cats should generally be avoided. Adult cats have a well-developed musculature and scruffing may cause unnecessary discomfort and potentially harm the cat.

While there are rare instances where scruffing may be necessary, such as during medical procedures or emergencies, it should only be performed by trained professionals who understand the physiology and proper technique. Scruffing should not be attempted by inexperienced individuals as it can lead to injury and a breakdown in trust between the cat and handler.

Proper Cat Handling

Instead of relying on scruffing, it is important to learn and practice proper cat handling techniques. By understanding a cat's behavior and body language, you can create a safe and comfortable environment for both you and the cat. Here are some important guidelines for proper adult cat handling:

1. Respect Their Personal Space

Cats are known for their independence and desire for personal space. Respect their boundaries and allow them to come to you when they feel comfortable. Avoid imposing your presence on them and give them the freedom to move away if they choose to do so.

2. Approach Slowly and Calmly

Approach adult cats slowly and calmly to avoid startling them. Sudden movements and loud noises may cause them to become frightened or defensive. Let them familiarize themselves with your presence and build trust at their own pace.

3. Use a Supportive and Confident Grip

When you need to pick up an adult cat, make sure to support their body properly. Place one hand under their chest, supporting their front legs, and use your other hand to support their hind end. This will provide them with a sense of security and prevent any discomfort or injury.

4. Avoid Rough Handling

Avoid any rough handling or excessive force when interacting with adult cats. This includes pulling on their fur, gripping too tightly, or restraining them in a way that causes distress. Treat cats with gentleness and respect to maintain a positive and trusting relationship.

5. Pay Attention to Body Language

Cats communicate their feelings and intentions through their body language. Pay close attention to their cues and signals to understand how they are feeling. If a cat shows signs of discomfort, such as flattened ears, dilated pupils, or a swishing tail, it is important to give them space and reassess your approach.

Safe Cat Handling

Safe cat handling involves creating an environment that promotes trust, comfort, and mutual respect between you and the cat. Remember, each cat is an individual with unique preferences and sensitivities. What works for one cat may not work for another. Patience, understanding, and a willingness to adapt are key when it comes to safe cat handling.

By following the dos and don'ts of cat handling, understanding proper techniques, and respecting a cat's boundaries, you can create a positive and enjoyable experience for both you and the cat. Remember, a gentle and patient approach will go a long way in building a trusting relationship with your feline companion.

Can You Scruff an Adult Cat?

While it is generally not recommended to scruff an adult cat, there may be exceptional circumstances where it is necessary. However, if you find yourself in a situation where scruffing is required, it is crucial to seek guidance from a professional, such as a veterinarian or an experienced cat behaviorist. They can provide you with proper instructions and ensure the cat's safety and well-being.

Always remember that handling an adult cat should be approached with caution and respect for their physical and emotional needs. Focus on building trust, using proper handling techniques, and creating a harmonious bond with your feline friend.