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Is It OK to Pick My Cat Up by the Scruff?

- Provided by VetStreet.com
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Q. Does picking cats up by the scruff hurt them?

A. Lifting a cat or suspending its body weight by its scruff (the skin on the back of its neck) is unnecessary and potentially painful. And it’s certainly not the most respectful or appropriate way to pick up or handle your cat.

The best way to pick up your cat under normal circumstances is to spread your hand under his chest, and as you lift, slide your other hand and forearm under his hind end to support his weight. Then pull him against your chest for more support. Holding your cat this way makes him feel less vulnerable. Your grip should be loose, but with enough contact to feel any tension.

If your cat starts to squirm, put him down the opposite way you picked him up: Put his front paws on the ground and support his rear as he steps fluidly out of your arms. If your cat ever freaks in your arms, don’t fight to hold him: Just open your arms and let him blast off. (And then work with him slowly to build his trust and confidence, through an understanding of feline body language.)

Why Your Vet Might Scruff Your Cat

Veterinarians have traditionally been taught to hold a prone cat's scruff in order to control them for examinations and procedures. The theory was that since kittens go limp when their mothers carry them by the scruff, a tight grip on the loose skin over a cat’s shoulders would trigger the same response. But this “flexor reflex” occurs only in very young kittens, and some behaviorists now say gripping the skin in “mother cat fashion” causes stress and can make the cat more fearful. That’s not what you want in the exam room. Cat-friendly practices are now using or experimenting with ways to allow a cat to relax in an exam room, such as having cubbies for hiding in, or breaking open a carrier to allow the cat to rest in the bottom half. And when it comes to handling a cat, vets don't scruff automatically, because some cats react better to a looser hold.

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General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.

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