When kittens are picked up by the neck by their mothers the kittens become temporarily paralyzed.

Is this also true for adult cats if a human was to pick them up the same way?

  • 14
    never ever pick up an adult cat by the neck. Mar 19, 2021 at 5:50
  • 3
    Welcome to pets.SE picking up an adult cat by the neck will cause pain and injuries, because of the much bigger weight of adult cats, compared to kittens Mar 19, 2021 at 7:03
  • 1
    Male cats use this reaction to subdue a female during sex
    – slebetman
    Mar 19, 2021 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


Cats can be temporarily paralyzed by pinching the skin on the back of their neck. This is called "pinch-induced behavioral inhibition" (PIBI) or "scruffing" or "clipnosis" (a composition of clip and hypnosis, because clips are often used in veterinary or scientific settings to keep cats immobile). It is a reflex in cats and other animals like rodents, rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs. This reflex stays active as the animal ages. You can read more about it in What research is there on the long term effects of pinch-induced behavioral inhibition conditioning on cats?.

However, the skin of the neck can only support a limited amount of weight and is not suited to support the body weight of an adult cat. You will certainly cause your cat pain and potentially injure it by literally picking it up by the scruff of the neck. Please read more about it in Is it ok to pick my adult cat up by the scruff of the neck?

  • 2
    Just to point out that not all cats respond to this - one of our pair responds exactly as expected, the other pretty much ignores it completely and just acts confused
    – Rycochet
    Mar 22, 2021 at 0:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.