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Male Cat Carrying Kitten By Scruff (Is This Normal?)

If you have noticed that a male cat is carrying a kitten by its scruff you may be wondering if this is normal or if it is a cause for concern.

Why would a male cat carry a kitten by its scruff?

A male cat may be carrying a kitten by its scruff to move it away from its mother or if it is in its way causing it irritation. If it’s the former, away from its mother, it could be cause for concern. If it’s the latter, it could be just a one-off and a practical move.

So, now you know why. But, does this hurt the kitten? Do male cats get involved in raising kittens normally? Is it ok for humans to scruff a cat? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

What is a cat’s scruff?

Male cat carrying kitten by scruff.

A kitten being carried by its scruff.

The cat’s scruff is the loose skin at the back of its neck. Kitten’s mothers often use it to carry their kittens. It is believed to immobilize the kitten momentarily allowing the mother to move it without resistance.

Some cat owners see this and believe they can do this with their kitten, or even worse a grown cat. Which is not ideal and will usually end with the cat in pain or retaliating out of defense.

Does being carried by the scruff hurt a kitten?

When a kitten is carried by its mother by the scruff it is not believed to be painful. Because it releases a natural reflex to relax their body and accept being carried. But, if a human does it to a cat or kitten it may cause pain.

As a cat matures this reaction disappears along with their reliance on their mother. So, when a cat owner tries to grab a cat by the scruff it is often met with a negative reaction.

If your mother tells you off as a kid the chances are you will just accept it, right? But, why? Well, it is expected and part of the process of learning, right?

But, if she tries this when you are 24 and in your own home, the reaction is likely to quite different. You may argue back or resist the punishment being given.

This is no different from the way a kitten accepts being scruffed by her mother and not as an adult.

What if a male cat carrying the kitten away from its mother?

Top 10 Cat Breeds

If the male cat is carrying the kitten by its scruff and moving it away from its mother then it is a potential problem. You need to closely monitor what the cat is doing with the kitten.

Also, even if it seems innocent, is the male cat returning the kitten back to its mother? If not, you need to be concerned. Why? Well, the kitten needs to be groomed and fed by its mother.

Can male cats hurt kittens?

Male cats can hurt kittens. Sometimes it’s intentional, other times it could be by mistake. If a cat is playfighting and biting a kitten it could accidentally go too far and hurt it.

Regarding male cats intentionally hurting kittens, this could be out of jealousy or a tactic to get the mother back into her heat cycle. Meaning, it may fatally hurt the kitten to get it out of its way.

Do male cats play a role in raising kittens?

Male cats do not play a role is raising kittens (would it bite it? click here). Their main role is with mating, and this is a problem if they can’t mate properly. So, they are not responsive to the kitten’s cries or meows like the mother is.

If you ever wondered why tomcats are not around when the female cat is raising the kittens (Could it hurt them? Click here) now you have a good idea. Cats are different from humans, the male has no emotional attachment to their young as human fathers do.

Is it okay to carry a cat by the scruff?

It is not okay to carry a cat by the scruff. This is because it can be painful and not expected by them. This behavior is reserved for their mother. And, only as kittens, not as adults.

To carry a cat you should be lifting from underneath its chest and support its weight, not using its skin to take the weight.

Some cat owners are not aware of this and assume the scruff is acceptable. But, at least now you know.

At what age are kittens safe from male cats?

Kittens are usually safe to go outside and be safe from 6 months old. Also, most cat owners will neuter them beforehand, at approx 4 months. But, even at this age, a male cat can still be a threat if it has bad intentions.

The reality is that even as an adult a cat can be a victim to an aggressive male cat. You just need to monitor the situation to see how your cat is responding when they return home.

Do Father cats know their kittens?

Father cats do not know their kittens. The reason is the mother cat may have more than one male partner before having the kittens making it impossible for it to know.

This is more apparent or feral cats. However, it is still applicable to domesticated cats too. Think of it this way, if a lady is promiscuous and is out partying and having “fun” and becomes pregnant how can you tell who the father is?

The answer is you need a DNA test, right? As you can understand cats do not have this technology therefore they have no idea. And, to be brutally honest the male cat has no desire to even know. They are on to the next cat as nature intended it.

Is Scruffing a cat cruel?

Scruffing a cat as a human is commonly regarded as cruel for several reasons. Firstly, adult cats shouldn’t be scruffed at all, this is reserved to kittens. Also, humans do not know the correct way to scruff a kitten like a mother cat can.

Mother cats have a natural instinct to know exactly what pressure is required and how to avoid hurting their kittens. Humans are not born with this instinct.

Do mother cats scruff kittens for punishment?

Mother cats (queens) do not scruff their kittens for punishment. This is done as a practical way to carry their kittens. It is often assumed it is punishment but that is not the case.

If you think about it logically what other way could a cat carry its kitten? None that I can think of, they do not stand upright or have the command of hands like us humans.

So, their mouth is the next best thing. The reason why some may assume it’s punishment is that they may see a mother moving an unruly kitten (could it ever kill it? Click here). This is merely a coincidence because it needs to be moved and this is the quickest way for them to do it.

Do Male cats form a relationship with female cats?

Male cats do not form a relationship with female cats. They simply mate with them and move on with their day. They do not build an emotional bond as humans do.

It is quite difficult for some humans to understand the behavior of animals compared to us. For example, the term “you dogged me” is often used in a negative way, suggesting the male disrespected the female like a dog mating and leaving.

In an animal’s book, this behavior is normal. This is why humans are very different, in this manner.

Lindsey Browlingdon