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 and aggressive.
UP A CAT
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 or aggressive.
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 further.
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 restrained.
Restraining for treatment. Hold firmly for any treatment that might
Cooperative Cat: 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 treatment.
Uncooperative Cat: 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 restraint. 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.
A 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
Transporting an injured or uncooperative cat. Lift the cat as described
in the text and lower it into a sack or pillowcase.
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.
AN INJURED CAT
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
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 Cooperative Cat, 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
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.
1998, Macmillan Publishing. All rights reserved.