Mother cats sometimes discipline their kittens by scruffing them. We human cat parents can also use a scruffing technique, however it should be reserved for extreme situations.
One of the last times I personally had to scruff a cat was in 2007 when my husband, Asa, was still alive, but suffering the final stages of melanoma. Our big boy Jaspurr had attacked our Jenny (both pictured here), and when Asa tried to intervene, Jaspurr scratched and bit him savagely. I took Jaspurr by the name of the neck, and proceeded to scruff him, and told my husband to wait in the living room, where Jenny had already fled. It took several minutes before Jaspurr visibly relaxed, then I left him in the closed bedroom, and attended to Asa's and Jenny's wounds.
Photo of Jaspurr and Jenny © Franny Syufy
I much prefer scruffing to the common practice of using a spray bottle, which often results in a drenched, angry cat. Since the cat associates the spray bottle with the person holding it, he will only continue his misbehavior when you are absent. Like scruffing, use of the spray bottle should be reserved for urgent situations, such as when a cat is attempting to jump onto a hot stove top.Learn more about the technique of scruffing a cat.