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Capturing and Restraining in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Capturing a roaming injured cat can be difficult. Though injured, some can still run quite fast. Unfortunately, some cats will run away and not be found. If you notice a collar, especially if there is a tag, remember to keep this with the animal. If the collar is broken and the animal is being transported to another location, take the collar and tag so someone can contact the owner.

For those cats that try to get away from you but stay nearby, here are some suggestions on how to catch them and offer care:

  • If you have a leash, make a loop out of the leash by passing the end that would normally attach to the leash through the handle loop.
  • Stand along side or just behind the injured animal.
  • Loop the converted leash over his head and gently tighten.
  • Be prepared for some struggling since most cats are not used to a leash.

    If you do not have a leash or the leash technique is not working, a large towel or blanket can also work. This technique also works well with cats if you are unable to use a leash.

  • Drop the blanket or towel over the pet.
  • Be aware of the animal's position under the blanket so you don't go near the mouth.
  • Wrap the blanket around the animal and scoop him into your arms. Be aware of where the mouth and claws are. Some animals can be very determined and will bite through thick blankets.

    Some cats that are used to pet carriers will crawl into an empty box. After inside the box, the cat can be easily transported. Make sure the lid is securely fastened, but still allows air to flow.

    Cats can be difficult to restrain. Remember, cats can bite as well as scratch. Even though they are small, cats can cause significant and serious injuries. There are two popular cat restraint methods: scruffing while sitting and lying down restraint. These are typically used if there are two people involved. If you are alone, you may want to consider capturing and transporting the cat to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic. Be aware that some cats do better with minimal or no restraint. If restraint techniques are becoming difficult, stressful and making the situation worse, try talking soothingly to the cat and work without restraint.

    Scruffing Restraint

    The skin at the back of the neck is called the scruff. This is a good way to restrain cats. As kittens, the mother would use the scruff to hold the kitten to comfort or discipline. Cats seem to remember this and usually do not object to scruffing.

  • Grasp the skin behind the neck. Hold firmly. Use your dominant hand to hold the scruff.
  • With you other hand, hold the cat in a sitting position.
  • Be wary of front claws. You may need to grasp the front arms with your other hand instead of holding in a sitting position.
  • Cradle the cat in your arms while you scruff and hold the front arms.
  • Try not to let go of the scruff. This is an important part of cat restraint.

    Lying on Side Restraint

  • Grasp the skin behind the neck. Hold firmly with your dominant hand.
  • Grab the rear legs and tail with your other hand.
  • Gently lay the cat on her side. You may need the other person to help you get her front legs out of the way. Cats tend to use the free front legs to prevent lying on their side.
  • Once the cat is on her side, do not let go of the scruff or the rear legs. This will allow the cat to right herself and fight back.

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