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Getting a grip: cats respond negatively to scruffing and clips

Abstract

Use of scruffing and scruffing tools (eg, clipnosis clips) to immobilise cats is contentious, and cat handling guidelines vary in recommendations regarding these techniques. The current study examined whether cats show negative responses to the following restraint methods: (1) scruff (n=17), (2) clip application to the dorsal neck skin (n=16) and (3) full body (a known negative; n=19). Each cat was also handled with passive restraint (control) for comparison. During handling, cats were examined for behavioural (side/back ear positions, vocalisations, lip licking) and physiological (pupil dilation ratio, respiratory rate) responses. Full-body restrained cats showed more negative responses than passively restrained cats (respiratory rate: p=0.006, F3,37=4.31, p=0.01; ear p=0.002, F3,49=6.70, p=0.0007; pupil: p=0.007, F3,95=14.24, p=0.004; vocalisations: p=0.009, F3,49=4.85, p=0.005) and scruff-restrained cats (pupil: p=0.009; vocalisations: p=0.04). Clip restraint resulted in more negative responses than passive (pupil: p=0.01; vocalisations: p=0.007, ear p=0.02) and scruff restraint (pupil p=0.01; vocalisations: p=0.02). No differences were detected between full-body restraint, known to be aversive, and clip restraint. Full-body restraint and clip restraint resulted in the greatest number of negative responses, scruffing resulted in ffewer negative responses and passive restraint showed the least number of responses We therefore recommend against the use of full-body and clip restraint, and suggest that scruff restraint should be avoided when possible.

  • cat
  • restraint
  • stress
  • veterinary
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