“How to hold a cat who is wiggly” is a hot topic among readers of my blog. People come to this site in search of answers.
The image below will help you to understand the logic behind safe and comfortable cat restraint. I often review this book. Since I spend my work hours handling cats, knowing their anatomy definitely helps.
First, notice that cats walk on their fingers and toes, both of which are called phalanges.
Walking on their toes gives cats grace and lightness.
Second, notice that cats crouch when they walk. The front legs (humerus, radius and ulna) are in a wide V shape, as are the rear legs (femur, tibia and fibula).
The crouching walk is part of what enables cats to perform an explosive jump, propelling them from the floor to the top of a cabinet. They are perpetually in a pre-jump position. There is power in those bent legs, particularly the rear legs. Cats use rabbit-kicks to pummel opponents during battles and play time.
If you look at photos of runners at a starting line, you will notice that they are in a similar position to the cat below. They are poised for explosive movement forward or upward.
Keep feline anatomy in mind so that you won’t be surprised if your cat suddenly leaps up and out of your arms. If they are positioned to be able to successfully kick at you, you’ve probably already lost your chance to restrain them.
I know that holding on to a wiggling cat seems like it shouldn’t be that hard. All you do is grab their scruff, right?
Not so fast there, little buddy.
Cats use their ENTIRE body. Not only that, they easily move three-dimensionally.
Humans use our hands mostly, and occasionally our feet. We usually move forward, backwards and sideways. We usually don’t spin and flip, unless our name is Jackie Chan. So we don’t really understand cats, because they truly live in another dimension.
Holding on to the scruff stabilizes one small portion of the cat’s body. The rest of the body is free to flip, flop and spin, with claws out! That gets messy.
Quietly and quickly pick up your cat. Don’t talk or hesitate. Just pick up your cat, one hand under the belly, one hand on the scruff.
Hold your cat close against your body at your waist height.
Don’t squeeze the scruff or twist it. You’re holding, not punishing.
So many people hold their cat at arm’s length. Understandably, the cat doesn’t like being suspended in the air with nothing to hold on to. Close is better.
If you can’t do it, don’t feel bad. Just call a groomer.
How often do you comb your hair? Once a year? Once a month?
You comb it every day.
You comb your hair every day to maintain it.
You wouldn’t accept even one mat in your hair.
You like the feel and look of combed hair.
You enjoy feeling clean.
So does everyone you meet.
If your cat has long fur, why assume that she never needs to be combed?
“Cats groom themselves.” “Even the vet says that.”
We used to believe that the earth was flat.
Someone tested that belief. The rest is history.
Don’t believe what you’re told, even if you’re told by an “expert.”
Experts usually have big gaps in their knowledge. No one is an expert about everything.
When cat fur gets coated with cat skin oil, the fur can feel stiff or gluey. All that’s happening is grease + fur = stiffness. To fix the situation, you can use ball-tip scissors and carefully, CAREFULLLLLLY, trim off the oiled-up fur. The skin underneath will still be oily, so you can use a wet wipe made for cats/dogs. That will help a little.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use a diluted degreaser like Dawn or Palmolive — unscented original versions, diluted heavily — to wash the greasy skin and fur. Be SURE to rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse some more because you don’t want your cat to lick that soap.
A common place to find stiff, oiled-up fur is between the shoulder blades. I can’t believe how gluey and sticky this area can be. Very hard to degrease without washing a few times.
If fur is dry, that’s different. Could be that the fur was washed with a degreasing shampoo too many times in too short a time. More likely it’s not related to grooming but to some other situation. I’m not a vet, so I don’t know what would cause dry fur. I’ve never seen dried-out fur on a cat. I’ve seen oily fur many times.
Sitting inside watching the snow — yes, it’s pretty! — while breathing in dander, dandruff and cat fluff? Windows closed. Heat pouring out of vents. Dry skin and dry nose. Perfect time for major allergy flare-ups.
Grooming decreases shed fur, cleans off dandruff, and washes away dander (temporarily). If I had cat allergies, I’d be on meds and would have my cat groomed at least every 3 months. If you can’t schedule a cat grooming, try wiping your cat with fragrance-free cat wipes. Do that once a day.
Cats whose coat thickens up in the winter are at maximum puffiness now. I like a puffy cat as much as the next person. The problem is that under the cute puffiness, problems can lurk. Mats form under floofiness. As fur starts to shed more during the approach to Spring (March 20th), fur can mat into hard lumps.
Beware the floof!:)
Grooming experience, education and training:
- graduated grooming school
- house call veterinary nurse administering medications and fluids
- managed busy animal shelter
- emergency animal rescue in Chapel Hill, NC
- internship with “big cats” at The Bronx Zoo
- kennel worker
- post-baccalaureate biology honors program at CUNY
- hundreds of hours of volunteer service at animal shelters, and more. . .
Cat grooming can be one of these or more. It depends on what the cat and the owner need and want to make their life more comfortable and clean.
It’s not only lion cuts (aka shave-downs).
It’s not only a bath and blow dry.
It’s not only a “show groom”.
It’s not only a combing out.
It’s not only a de-shedding.
It’s not only a claw trim.