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As a cat owner, you’ve probably found yourself in a scenario before your cat tries to run away or get out, and you need to retrieve it. It’s natural to reach for the loose skin around her neck, and you may have noticed that this causes her muscles to freeze and your cat to lock up. So why do cats freeze when grabbed by the neck?
Cats tense up and freeze when grabbed by the neck as a form of stress reaction. Grabbing your cat by the neck is often called “scratching.” This actually triggers an anxiety reflex in cats, which also causes them to lock themselves into a defensive posture.
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Do cats like to be skinned
Often people are wrongly taught that rubbing is the best way to handle their cat, and now there’s a common misconception surrounding the act. In truth, cats generally don’t like being scratched at all. Holding a cat by the neck makes it feel helpless.
Their posture response indicates high levels of stress and fear as they lock down their whole body. People often misinterpret this as a cat relaxing, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
This is a form of behavioral arrest. Your cat is so overwhelmed when grabbed by the neck that his body reacts with the highest form of stress management by freezing all of his limbs.
It’s only been in recent years that people have started discussing how there are better ways to handle cats. In truth, some cats may not be as bothered by rubbing as others, but it’s best to avoid this method if possible.
When should I stop scratching my cat
There are a lot of misconceptions around scratching because we see mother cats holding their kittens in their mouths the same way. Although cats often carry their young by the loose skin on their backs, this is something you only see them do when their kittens are very young.
Once the kittens are developed beyond a few weeks, the kittens are more emotionally mature and develop the fear reflex of being caught in this way. The only other time you’ll see cats rubbing is during mating, when the male will grab the female’s neck in the same way.
As a cat owner, you really should never scratch your cat at any age. Assuming you adopted your cat once it was over a few weeks old, scrambling behavior is not encouraged.
Can scratch a Cat Hurt theme
If you’re worried because you’ve already seriously grabbed your cat by the neck, there’s no need to worry. For the most part, scratching bothers cats more psychologically than physically.
This is because cats don’t like to feel helpless, and when skinned they are locked into a position and cannot escape.
However, when brushing is not done properly, it could hurt your cat. If you must scratch your cat, you should never hold your cat above the ground so that no part of its weight remains planted on the ground.
Carrying your cat exclusively by the scruff of the neck is dangerous and could be painful for your cat. There’s a big weight imbalance when you do this, and they could hurt themselves twisting around and trying to get out of your grasp. Always make sure their weight is supported.
Especially if your cat is of a larger or overweight breed, your cat may not have as much loose hair in the neck area. The scrub is then very painful for your cat, especially if it lasts more than a few seconds.
Does scratching a cat release endorphins?
Although there is not much scientific evidence in this area, it is believed that scratching a cat is correlated with an endorphin release. However, it should be noted that the release of endorphins is more particularly observed in kittens and young cats.
How your cat reacts to rubbing as it ages depends on your cat as an individual. Some people anecdotally report how scratching their cat seems to relax their pet, and they often fall asleep afterwards. One theory is that rubbing reminds cats of their mother, and that’s why they enjoy it.
More often, however, the older a cat, the more likely they will be upset by the rubbing and have an adverse reaction to the restraint.
What other safer ways can I discipline my cat?
After learning that scruffing isn’t your best option for disciplining cats, it’s natural to wonder what other disciplinary actions you might take instead. Disciplining your cat can be a high priority situation if you find that your cat is constantly acting out or exhibiting bad behavior.
The first part of discipline is understanding why your cat is acting the way it does. Is your cat stressed? Is he or she acting out of boredom? Spend some time understanding the motives behind your cat’s bad behavior.
This is important because it influences the type of discipline you should use with your cat. If you’re standing in a situation where you just need to quickly restrain a cat, your hand behind your cat’s jaw is a great way to keep a firm grip without upsetting your cat.
Use remote correction to discipline your cat
Cats can’t understand when you verbally discipline them, nor can they fully correlate physical disciplinary action to what they’ve done wrong. What is recommended instead is to use remote correction or the process of setting up an environment that disciplines the cat.
For example, if your cat is chewing on things it shouldn’t, spray it with bitter-tasting cat spray to teach it very quickly that it doesn’t want to continue chewing on that item.
You can also use other sensory cues such as sound or smell to deter your pet from continuing to misbehave. Cats generally don’t like loud noises, so setting up a loud whistle or bell will quickly teach them to avoid something.
Determine which method is most effective for your situation and your cat, and use it as a discipline technique. Always remember that cats are not human and do not have the same awareness of good and bad behavior.
The best way to teach them is through repetition and lots of practice. Another key thing to remember is that you want to reward your cat in this process when you see them avoiding bad behavior. Praise your cat and give him treats to indicate that you notice he is behaving well.
Although you always tend to reach for that loose fur around your cat’s neck the next time they need to be tied up, resist the urge. There are much better ways to handle your cat that will cause them less distress and anguish.
Ultimately, the rubbing may not be physically painful for your cat, but the older your cat gets, the more upset he will be by this action. The last thing you want is for them to be afraid of you, so use other methods to avoid compromising your bond with your cat.