HANDLING AND RESTRAINT
There are several
effective methods to handle and restrain a cat. Your choice will depend on
whether the individual animal is tranquil and cooperative or frightened
Deciding on the best method of
handling your cat will depend on its temperament and state of mind at the time.
Normally, to pick up your cat, you place one hand behind the front legs and
another under the hindquarters. When your cat is cooperative it is preferable to
handle it gently in this manner with a minimum of physical restraint when
possible. However, there may be times when it will be necessary to
restrain your cat for procedures such as grooming, bathing, medicating,
transporting, and veterinary care.
There are several products
available to protect yourself from cat scratches and bites.
gloves and sleeves can be purchased
BiteBuster. Cat grooming bags can
be helpful for grooming and bathing cats, particularly when working on the head
and feet and can be purchased at
As a general
rule, it is advisable to reach down and pick up a cat from above. A
face-to-face confrontation might provoke a cat into becoming uncooperative
Cooperative Cat: Place one hand around the abdomen beneath the
chest and take hold of the front legs so they cross over each other,
keeping your index finger between them for a secure grip. Pick up the cat
and snuggle it close to your body. Cradle the chin with your other hand.
Apprehensive Cat: Reach down and lift the cat by the scruff of its
neck. Most cats go limp--as they did when their mothers carried them as
kittens. Support the back feet with your other hand.
Frightened Cat: Cover the animal with a towel. After a minute or
two, as the cat becomes calmer, slide the rest of the towel underneath and
lift up the cat as a bundle.
Aggressive Cat: Slip a leash or a loop of rope over the cat's head
and one front leg. Then lift the animal by the leash and set it
down on a table or into a cat carrier or box. This method should be used
only as a last resort because it is certain to agitate the cat
When the cat is
cooperative, routine procedures such as grooming, bathing, or even
medicating are best carried out in quiet surroundings with a minimum of
physical restraint. Approach the cat with confidence and handle it gently.
Most cats can be coaxed into accepting the procedure and do not need to be
Restraining for treatment:
Hold firmly for any treatment that might prove unpleasant.
Lift the cat onto a smooth surface such as a tabletop. The cat will be
less secure--but still not frightened. Speak in a calm soothing voice
until the cat relaxes. Place one hand around the front of the chest to
keep the cat from moving forward. Use your other hand to administer
Depending on the degree of agitation, several methods are available. If
cooperative enough to permit handling, then grasp the cat by the scruff of
the neck and press firmly against the top of the table so that the cat
stretches out. These actions will prevent you from being
scratched by the cat's rear claws.
Picking up the cat.
Reach down and grasp the cat by the scruff of the neck. Secure the back
feet with your other hand. Note the position of the fingers, which
securely immobilize the front legs.
A leash and loop
The cat is immobilized by drawing the leash taut. To keep the cat from
being choked, the loop should include one leg.
A cat bag restraint is
useful for treating the head.
cat muzzle that covers the eyes and ears has a calming effect.
A simple restraint can be made from a piece of cardboard.
It is useful for a short procedure, such as giving a pill.
Another method of restraining for a short procedure.
An assistant is required.
Transporting an injured or uncooperative cat. Lift the cat as
described in the text and lower it into a sack or pillowcase.
When help is available,
have your assistant stand behind the cat and place both hands around the
cat's neck or front legs while pressing his or her arms against the cat's
sides. Wrapping a towel or blanket around the cat has a calming effect and
is useful for short procedures such as giving medication. An assistant is
required to steady the cat and hold the wraps in place.
Note: A coat sleeve makes an excellent restraint. The cat will often
scoot into it willingly.
Hold the end of the sleeve securely around the cat's neck. Now you can
treat the head or tail.
When procedures take longer and the cat cannot be managed by the above
methods, lift the cat straight up from behind by the scruff of the neck
with one hand and hold the rear paws together with the other. Press down
firmly on the table so the cat is lying on its side with body extended.
Now have an assistant bind the front legs together with adhesive tape,
taking two or three turns below the elbows. Secure the rear legs by
wrapping with tape above the hocks. Calm the cat by covering its head with
a towel or cloth.
When properly restrained, cats usually settle down and accept the
treatment. Once released, they soon forget the unpleasant experience.
TRANSPORTING AN INJURED CAT
NO MATTER HOW
DOCILE BY BASIC NATURE, ANY CAT IN PAIN MAY SCRATCH OR BITE. Proper
handling will prevent injuries. Furthermore, struggling can cause a weak
or injured cat to tire quickly and can produce further shock and collapse.
Carrying a cat.
Hold the cat firmly against your body with its rear feet pressed out
behind. Cover the eyes and ears with your other hand.
If able to handle, pick up the cat as described for
then settle it over your hip so the rear claws project out behind where
they can do no harm. Press the inside of your elbow and forearm against
the cat's side, holding the cat firmly against your body. Cover the eyes
and ears with your other hand.
If the cat is frightened or in pain, take precautions to avoid injury.
Lift the cat at once from behind by the nape of the neck and lower it into
a cat carrier or a cloth bag such as a pillowcase. The material must not
be airtight, or the cat will smother. Once inside with no way to see out,
the animal will feel secure and begin to relax. Transport the cat to
the veterinary hospital.
If unable to handle, first throw a towel over the cat, then set a box on
top. Raise the edge of the box and slide the top underneath. The cat is
now enclosed and can be transported.
(Reprinted: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook,
by Delbert G. Carlson , James M. Giffin
© Copyright 1998, Macmillan Publishing. All rights reserved.)