How To Restrain A Cat For Grooming? 4 Useful Methods

My cat Watson wasn’t a fan of grooming. He will always sneak his way out of the bathroom and scratch anyone who gets into his way.  To save ourselves from the painful scratches, we asked the vet about how to restrain a cat for grooming. It’s fairly easy and Watson got used to it after some time.

Properly restraining your cat will save you time and effort. It will also make grooming time much faster and effective. Although kitties can groom themselves, they still need help to remove deep-seated dirt and clean the areas they can’t reach.

What is the best way to restrain a cat?

Keeping a cat still during grooming time isn’t the easiest task. While there are kitties who will cooperate, many are just not having it. To help you out, the following are effective and safe restraint methods you can try on your cat:

Method #1: The Blanket Wrap

The first and most common method used in restraining a cat for grooming is the blanket wrap. This is very effective when you need to brush the cat’s teeth or clip its nails.

This works by simply wrapping the kitty with a blanket, like swaddling a newborn. This will keep the cat immobile and you can perform the grooming task you need to do.

However, this method offers limited use, especially if you’re bathing or brushing a cat. Still, it comes in handy in some situations when you need to perform localized grooming on some spots of your pet’s coat.

Also, the blanket wrap method works well in restraining a cat that becomes aggressive during grooming. But if your kitty is very aggressive, I suggest that you explore calming aids aside from using this method.

Method #2: The Scruff Hold

For cats that are more laidback, the scruff hold may actually work. This is done by gently grabbing your cat’s scruff, the loose skin at the back of the neck. Hold this gently so your kitty won’t get hurt.

Holding the scruff has a stopping power among cats. It will prevent them from moving, but remember that you should never lift them through it. Doing so will hurt the cat and make grooming time an unappealing experience.

After holding the scruff, place your arm along the kitty’s spine. This will keep the cat still so you can brush its coat with ease. This also works for baths if your cat is being too uncooperative.

Method #3: The Cat Muzzle

Another trick a friend taught me is using a cat muzzle. This is way different than a dog’s muzzle since it’s made of a thick fabric, which is like a facemask for humans with a hole for breathing.

By putting the muzzle on, your cat’s vision will be blocked. Most of the time, cats will be hesitant to move when they can’t see the surroundings. This will let you groom the feline properly.

However, you should still watch out for the claws as some kitties may become scratchy when you put the muzzle on.

When that happens, you can pair the cat muzzle with the scruff hold method. This will help a lot with cats that are squirmy and aggressive during grooming.

Method #4: Call a Friend

If all the other methods fail, the best resort is to call a friend for help. The other person will hold your cat still while you perform the necessary grooming task. Always be gentle so your cat won’t get hurt. I suggest asking a friend or family member that your cat is familiar with to avoid added stress.

Tips to get your cat to cooperate while grooming

Aside from proper restraint, the following are some added tips that encourage your kitty to cooperate during groom time:

  • Let it go once in a while. Remember that cats are like kids. The longer you keep them still, the more they get anxious. It’s important to let the cat go and walk in front of you while rewarding with treats. This teaches your cat that grooming isn’t really that bad.
  • Start early. If you want your kitty to get used to grooming, you should handle it as early as possible. Start touching its paws and body so the cat will not be too jumpy or reluctant when it’s time for grooming.
  • Let your cat relax first. It’s important to schedule your cat’s grooming time once it’s mellow and relaxed. This will save you from scratches and endless chasing.
  • Trim the nails first. Another important thing you should do before giving a cat a bath is trimming its claws. You wouldn’t want to end up with deep scratches, especially if you have a kitty that hates bath time.
  • Prepare some treats. Positive reinforcement is a versatile method, even for grooming a cat. Giving out treats while grooming the kitty will allow the cat to associate the stimulation with something positive. Over time, your cat will cooperate and even like grooming.
  • Careful with the face. You should never douche water and shampoo into your cat’s face. For Watson, we use a wet washcloth to wipe his face and ears. This will prevent hurting the eyes in case shampoo gets into it.

What can I give my cat to calm him down during grooming?

If your cat gets really neurotic during grooming time, there are many ways to calm it down. Catnip is a very convenient option, but make sure that your cat gets mellow and not aggressive under its influence.

Aside from that, you can also ask the veterinarian for sedatives. These are drugs that you can administer to your cat to help it calm down so it won’t struggle as you groom.

While you can easily find over-the-counter sedatives for pets, it’s best to consult the vet first. This is to prevent any potential side effects, especially if your cat has a lingering health problem.

You can also try spraying cat pheromone in the bathroom and diffusing lavender oil. Just remember that lavender oil could be irritating for some felines so you should think twice before using it.

Can I give my cat Benadryl to cut his nails?

For cats, Benadryl isn’t always enough to give a drowsy effect. Around 10 mg might work, but there’s no guarantee. Take note that you shouldn’t overdose your cat with Benadryl or it will suffer from adverse repercussions.

If you want to sedate your cat to trim its nails, you can consult the vet for possible options. The veterinarian can prescribe a medication that will calm down your cat. Remember to follow the dosage religiously to avoid any side effects.

Do cats like being wrapped in blankets?

Many cats enjoy being wrapped in a blanket, including my Watson. It’s a cozy and warm feeling that most cats like. It mimics the feeling of being cradled by their mama cat.

However, not all kitties are fond of this restraint. If your cat is squirming forcefully when wrapped in a blanket, it means that the kitty is stressed and not liking the experience.

If you need to restrain your cat by using a blanket swaddle, you shouldn’t make it too tight.

How to restrain an injured cat?

Restraining an injured cat isn’t easy because you have to be extremely careful. Sedation is usually the best solution here so you won’t have to physically restrain the cat and potentially aggravate its condition.

However, you should always consult with the vet, much so if the injured cat is under certain medications. You should also be gentle in grooming.

Conclusion

Knowing how to restrain a cat for grooming should be in every owner’s trick bag. It makes grooming easier and faster, not to mention you’ll be saved from the scratches. Whatever method you use, always be gentle, and make sure that your cat isn’t hurt.

Do you have other methods to share? Comment it below!