13 July 2011


I agree with the comments at the Nothing To Do With Arbroath source, that this maneuver takes advantage of a vestigial reflex originally triggered when mother cats carry their kittens.

Addendum:  Revised and reposted in order to add this relevant information found by cavalaxis:
Pozza, M. E., J. L. Stella, et al. (2008). "Pinch-induced behavioral inhibition ('clipnosis') in domestic cats." J Feline Med Surg 10(1): 82-7.

There has been much interest in using mechanical inhibition for gentle restraint of rabbits, rodents, mice and guinea pigs. In these species, immobility is induced using neck clips or inversion. Although it has not received much interest, there have been reports of immobilizing cats by placing clips along the dorsal midline or neck for short procedures such as blood sampling. The authors have coined the term "pinch-induced behavioral inhibition" (PIBI) or "clipnosis" to describe this method of restraint. In this project, the effectiveness of PIBI was evaluated in 13 healthy cats and 18 cats with idiopathic cystitis (IC) using standard two-inch binder clips from a stationery store. In the first month of the study, 92% of the healthy cats and 100% of the cats with IC responded positively to clipping. The physiological response to clipping was similar to that of scruffing a cat - miosis, ventroflexion of the back, curling the tail under the abdomen. While clips can be placed anywhere along the dorsal midline, the authors recommend the dorsum of the neck as the most effective location. No cat exhibited behavior that could be interpreted as a fear or pain response. The researchers concluded that PIBI can be a safe and effective method of gentle restraint for various routine veterinary procedures, such as blood sampling, vaccinations, and nail trimming.
Source: Cat Health News from the Winn Feline Foundation.


  1. Ouch? Wouldn't that clip hurt?

    The "duhhhhh" look the cat gets when clipped is pretty freaky.

  2. Wow. That looks really painful, but as someone over at Arbroath pointed out it could be useful in emergencies. I know attempts to scruff my family's cat results in long, bloody scratches, maybe it requires a very tight grip to activate that reflex. I wonder if all cats respond like that, or if the one in the video has a particularly strong response?

  3. This works with lions too, but you'll have a difficult time finding the right size clips.

  4. I don't suppose it hurts the cat much - their loose skin would mean unless you're careless won't pinch like it would on a human.
    It'd be interesting to know how weak the clip can be before it no longer works...I've a cat here somewhere...
    Meep? Meep - come and have a treat...

    Nah - must have seen me coming.

  5. only save way to transport a rabbit: grab the fur behind its ears. It's kind of loose, and they don't move at all.

  6. Cool. Long ago, I picked up cats like their mothers do. Wanna know the reaction among my friends and relatives? Abject horror.

    But the cats seemed to just accept it - going "deactive" just like this. It didn't hurt them at all.

  7. I think that vet tech was Mr. Spock.

  8. Cool. Long ago, I picked up cats like their mothers do. Wanna know the reaction among my friends and relatives? Abject horror.

    Well yeah, I mean, you had a cat in your mouth. :)

  9. For those who think it will hurt, try it on the ball of your thumb. Doesn't hurt a bit.

  10. I used to work as a vet tech and we scruffed cats all the time to restrain them for examination or treatment. It works very well about 90% of the time.

    We never ever did it in front of the owners because they tend to assume that you are hurting their pet, but it doesn't hurt them at all when you use proper technique. It requires a pretty firm grip and you have to commit- cant get scared and do it half ass or it might result in a pissed off kitty

  11. for my two bits, the quality of these binder clips varies and you can get some that are very painful.

  12. "it doesn't hurt them at all when you use proper technique. It requires a pretty firm grip and you have to commit- cant get scared and do it half ass or it might result in a pissed off kitty "

    Did you lift the cat into the air by the scruff, or just grab and hold? The above-mentioned violent response from my family's cat occurred when we tried to lift her by the scruff when she nearing adulthood - the vet said not to do that with anything older than a kitten (yeah, I think we figured that out!), as the skin isn't as loose any more and the cat weighs a whole lot more. Grab-and-hold is great, though. It seems like even if you don't trigger the reflex, it minimizes your chance of getting torn to shreds.

    Sue - I have tried that with a binder clip, and it hurts! They only make contact at the very edge of the jaws, and can be really, really strong. A clip with more parallel surface area (like a chip clip) is a lot better, but it still starts to hurt after thirty seconds or so.

  13. I am thankful beyond words when readers of this blog respond with data rather than just opinions. Thank you so much, cavalexis. I've added your source data, revised the title, and resposted the item.

  14. My aunt, a farmer, used to pick up her laying chickens and hug them to her side like a sack of potatoes. If the hen was uneasy or upset, she would hold its wings against its bodies and rotate the chicken, as though it was sitting on ferris wheel. Somehow this calmed the chicken, then she could hold the chicken again hugged to her side. Does that work with other birds?

  15. Sounds just like how you can "put a lobster to sleep" by rubbing your thumbnail along the underside of its abdomen. They stretch out to full length, then after a few strokes they go completely inert and remain extended, just like they are indeed asleep. They'll stay in this state for a few minutes, then return to their usual state, with their tail partialy curled beneath them. Not a very useful skill perhaps, but it sure amused us when we were kids!

  16. @Noumenon--Well yeah, I mean, you had a cat in your mouth. :)


    I sent this to my sister, who has two cats, and she was thrilled. She lives in rural Vermont and lets the cats outside during the day, says this will be very useful when she needs to check them for ticks.

    If somebody was smart, they'd design and market a line of clips just for cats, with the appropriate amount of tension so you wouldn't risk using a regular clip that was too tight. Package it in a kit with a DVD demonstrating the technique, showing when to use it, exactly where to put it, how long you can leave it on, etc., etc. Have it approved by some veterinary association. You could sell it for quite a few bucks in pet stores and vet offices, on Web sites, in catalogs.

    --Swift Loris

  17. @swift loris

    Behold brochure for a clip specially for cats. Sample pack comes complete with cat and kitten size, literature and an instructional dvd.



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