Neck Scruff Is Underrated
So we have this new kitten. His name is Bruce. Despite his big, important, macho-sounding name, he has a tender, sweet face. And he’s small and darling. I mean really, really darling.
As long as he’s sleeping.
Which is never long enough.
It’s also never when we are sleeping.
And it’s especially not when I am (a) cooking (b) typing (c) folding laundry (d) breathing.
We have two other cats – as well as two dogs who weigh a combined 250 pounds and 40 fish who weigh a combined 3 pounds – all of which means, clearly, that we are clinically insane.
Our other cats are very happy. They were happy before we got the kitten. One of them, our orange tabby named Boaz, is round and fat. Sort of like Garfield only with a golden retriever’s personality. Our other cat, Barnabas, is midnight black like a panther, and as long as you don’t try to pick him up or carry him anywhere, he will snuggle up to you on the couch and purr and wheeze while you pet him incessantly. Sort of like a panther only with an Old Man in a Barcalounger’s personality.
Bruce, being a kitten, and considering that the Latin root of his name clearly means “Attack At Will For No Apparent Reason,” starts ‘play’ fights with Barnabas in much the same way as MMA fighters who are ‘just messing around’ in the ring. They’ll chase each other with such ferocity upstairs that when they run down the stairs after each other, they sound like a herd of elephants wearing blindfolds in a desperate attempt to escape a newly-opened cage of mice.
That is nothing, of course, compared to the sounds of the actual cat fighting that is occurring at the top of the stairs, on the bottom of the stairs, all over the downstairs, and, while Brian and I are actually sitting so that we can watch the Rangers game, periodically on the back of the couch behind our heads. That our heads are still attached and have not been severed by cat claws during one of the fights is evidence that God is not through with us yet on this earth. After the fight, they clean each other’s fur. Go figure. I am glad I am not a cat.
Boaz has no time for the whole thing because, well, he is Garfield. And he has been, shall we say, effective in letting Bruce know not to mess with him.
Now and then after Bruce has worn out Barnabas, who then needs to take a break from Cujo The Wonder Kitty, Bruce saunters over to me. In reality, he’s more like a feline flying squirrel as he makes launch attacks for my flesh while I do really threatening things such as Go On About My Day Without Messing With Him Whatsoever.
He pulled the Attack Mama With Teeth As Sharp As Glass Shards For No Reason yet again this morning. I tried the whole bop-him-on-the-nose-when-he-bites-to-teach-him-not-to thing that our vet had recommended when we had first gotten Bruce. (After all, even though it was just kitten play-biting, the vet knew it would just get worse and it would hurt more if he was allowed to continue that charming habit.) I tried picking him up off the table and relocating him to the floor, but alas, he was undeterred and came back up to me to see what flesh he had not yet shredded and, like a prehistoric saber-tooth tiger intent on devouring the jackal in one sitting, go at me again.
Then I remembered: the neck scruff trick! Mama cats, when they need to stop one of their kittens from doing something they don’t like, pick up their kittens – with their teeth – and lift them by the scruff on the back of the kittens’ necks. The kittens never seem afraid because the mama cats aren’t angry; and something about that way of a mama picking them up actually makes them super calm.
After Bite Attack Number 47 In the Span of 39 Seconds, I picked Bruce up by the scruff. He instantly went calm and sweet, and he looked at me so lovingly and then started to purr. Magic!
It got me thinking. How handy would it be to use that on people? Not in a mean way, just in a mother cat kind of way. It doesn’t hurt, it isn’t cruel, and it somehow magically accesses the Shut Down the Insanity control button in a way that is really, really peaceful to the one being scruffed.
Think of the beautiful potential of it all! Someone is behaving like an odious Nimrod to a clerk at a store? NECK SCRUFF! One of your children is behaving more like a baboon on acid than a human being into whom you have poured copious amounts of love and guidance? NECK SCRUFF! A parent on the sidelines is bulging out his eyeball veins as he obliterates the ref for a call during a Pee Wee Pre-Junior Light Ping-Pong Social? NECK SCRUFF!
Surely there’s a patent I could get for this. Right after the one I’ll get for the Breathe Right Nasal Strips for Dogs so that Buster won’t snore the house off its foundations.
Looks like it’s going to be a full day.