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Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

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 and aggressive.

 

PICKING UP A CAT

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 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.

RESTRAINING FOR TREATMENT

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 restrained.


Restraining for treatment. Hold firmly for any treatment that might prove unpleasant.
--J. Clawson

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.
--J.Clawson






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.
--J. Clawson




A cat bag restraint is useful for treating the head.
--J. Clawson


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.
--J. Clawson




Another method of restraining for a short procedure. An assistant is required.
--J. Clawson


Transporting an injured or uncooperative cat. Lift the cat as described in the text and lower it into a sack or pillowcase.
--J. Clawson

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.
--J. Clawson


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 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.


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