How to restrain a cat for grooming

Updated February 21, 2017

Grooming is an important part of caring for a cat. Some cats enjoy being groomed more than others. Cats that don't like to sit still can be comfortably restrained in your arms for grooming. Whether you are brushing your cat's fur, snipping hairballs, clipping claws or cleaning out ears, it is important to restrain your cat so he or she feels secure and safe and so you don't get scratched. Maintain a grooming routine so that over time your cat will get more and more used to it. Remember to be patient.

Give your cat herbal pet anti-anxiety supplements and/or spray a towel with pheromone spray and place it where your cat sleeps before grooming. This will help your cat to be more relaxed during grooming. Comply with dosage instructions and consult your vet about any health concerns.

Wear a long-sleeve shirt to protect your arms from scratches. Let your cat sit in your lap and get comfortable. Be affectionate so that he will be less likely to panic when the grooming starts. Gradually start the grooming process while continuing to pet your cat.

Hold the cat by placing one hand across her chest and front legs. Try keeping your hand open and using it like a blockade if the cat tries to leap forward. Hold gently if necessary and be careful not to squeeze your cat's neck. If necessary, you can also gently hold your cat by the skin between his or her shoulders. You can also wrap your arm around your cat while she is in a seated position so that all legs are restrained. Be sure not to lean on your cat or squeeze too hard, as this can seem scary and threatening. Allow your cat to move around periodically. This will help him feel like the grooming is on his terms. Being overly forceful will scare your cat.

Set your cat between your legs and place your hand under his or her chin for cleaning teeth and ears. Again, be careful not to squeeze his neck or restrict breathing in any way.

Cradle your cat on its back for grooming the belly or paws. Hold your cat snugly in one arm, like you are carrying a football.

Allow your cat's tail to be unrestricted. Twitching the tail is a way for cats to deal with stress.

Finish the grooming in more than one session if necessary. Let your cat calm down in between.

Use a cat muzzle and/or a cat sack for cats that are extremely difficult to restrain. A cat sack fits around the cat like a sleeping bag and has multiple zippers for accessing different areas of the cat. You may also want to hire a professional groomer and/or ask your vet about cat tranquillisers.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbal calming supplements
  • Pheromone spray
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Cat muzzle
  • Cat sack
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.