When a mother cat picks up a kitten by the scruff of the neck, the kitten goes limp. It’s an instinct that keeps the kitten from wiggling or trying to get away, when the mother has to make an important move. As it turns out, the instinct lives on in adult cats. You can utilize this when you want your cat to cooperate with you in some way. All you do is grab the loose skin at the back of the cat’s neck and lift up slightly. You don’t have to pick the cat up entirely by the back of the neck. In fact this might hurt an adult cat. By lifting slightly, you put the non-wiggle instinct into effect, then you can put your other hand under the cat to carry the cat or reposition the cat.
I am not sure yet – I haven’t experimented with my own cat enough – but I think there is another component to this instinct. I think it makes the cat more loving or accepting. On the few times I have tried it with my own kitty, he has become quite mellow, and purred louder as if knowing he is being especially cared for.
Interestingly, you can pull up on a cat’s neck when you want it to sit down. Just pull up for a moment then let the cat down – the cat’s feet will almost crumple and the cat will lower all the way down.