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Increasingly, MDC are being made aware that scruffing and restraint techniques and equipment is being used 'as standard’ to reduce the likelihood of injury to the operator during the handling of pet cats. MDC  believe the use of such techniques may compromise the welfare of cats unnecessarily.

In reality, gentle handling is more likely to result in greater safety for both handler and patient. 
In collaboration with leading feline vets and behaviourists, we have compiled this list of recommended handling techniques ...
  • Be aware that stress and/or pain can cause aggression in cats
  • Allocate enough time to carry out the necessary observations or procedures so that you don't become rushed or flustered
  • Have all necessary equipment ready prior in advance of the cat arriving
  • Provide the cat with its own blanket or towel and only remove/wash this if necessary. Use this same blanket whenever the cat is moved. This blanket will contain the cats own scent profile
  • Be consistently calm and gentle
  • Talk frequently to the cat but in a quiet tone. Use it's name
  • Reach slightly towards the cat to allow it to sniff you
  • Allow the cat to come to you rather than the other way around
  • Give the cat the impression it has some control of the situation or its environment. A height option on the exam table may be useful
  • Prioritise the examination/treatment leaving the worst (i.e. temperature taking) to last
  • Work around the cat allowing it to position itself
  • Stoke the facial pheromone sites (cheeks, chin, forehead and mouth)  to distract the cat 
  • Avoid staring at the cat. If eye contact is necessary, blink slowly
  • Where applicable, give treats to the cat on completion of the examination/treatment to help build a positive emotion for future visits
  • Hold or cradle the cat against your body
  • Control of the forelimbs is key. Place the forefinger between the front legs for a secure (but not tight) grip
  • The cephalic (forearm) vein is generally better tolerated than the jugular
  • Use a generous amount of topical anaesthetic on the injection site 15 -20 minutes prior to treatment. The area can be covered with clingfilm
  • Use good quality blue needles. Haemolysis is caused by the speed at which the sample is drawn and not due to the needle size
  • Gently scratch, blow or tap the nose to distract the cat as the needle or canulae is placed
  • Use a fresh needle or canulae for each entry
  • If greater restraint is required, use the cats own towel or blanket and 'swaddle' the cat and control the limbs
  • Sometimes, covering the cats head can help to distract or calm by reducing visual stimuli 
  • If aggressive behaviour is developing, use sedation before it escalates
  • Use scissors or silent clippers
  • Unwrap syringes, drip bag etc from noisy wrappers before the patient arrives
  • Break long procedures into shorter sessions
  • Synthetic pheromones (plug in or spray) may prove useful
  • Move the cat as infrequently as possible. Can the examination take place on the ward?
  • Consider warming injections or fluids if appropriate
  • Keep the number of carers to a minimum to help the cat build familiarity 

General handling techniques: 

Gentle restraint techniques: 

Top tips: 

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