Getting your cat to the vets – ideas to help keep things calm.
As cat owners ourselves we know what it’s like to take your cat into the vets - you make your yearly vaccination appointment for your cat over the phone. In preparation you get the carrier out of the garage and dust off the cobwebs. You bring it into the house and the cat disappears.
You have made sure that the cat stays in. You coax it to you with some of his/her favourite treats and then you grab it and shove it into the box. Except that all of a sudden fluffy has turned into an angry tiger, able to contort itself into a shape that means there is NO WAY it is going inside the perfectly adequately sized box. Scratches, hisses, even bites…and now you’re running late for your appointment. The cat yowls all the way to the vets and by the time you pull into the carpark there is a delightful array of vomit, faeces and urine (if you’re lucky)…one very stressed cat…and one very harassed owner, and you haven’t even seen the vet yet… Does any of this sound familiar? If you own a cat at least one or all of these things may have occurred at some point – you are not alone, however there are some very simple things that you can do that can make your life easier and your cat’s trip to the vets far less stressful….
Cats recognise people and places by their smell. This is why a carrier that smells of the shed; a car that smells of the car and a vet clinic that smells of other worried pets is a frightening place for your cat.
By bringing the carrier into your home weeks before its needed or leaving it permanently in the cat’s environment it will start to smell familiar. Put a fleecy blanket inside, perhaps a t-shirt you’ve worn and maybe a couple of treats or a favourite toy and leave it in the corner of the room. Eventually your cat may even start sleeping in it ,as cats love small cosy places that feel secure. . Then when it’s time for the visit to the vets, GENTLY place your cat in the carrier. Some cats will, with some gentle persuasion walk in but some cats may need to be “backed in” to front-opening carriers. Otherwise top-opening carriers can be helpful and gently scooping the cat up in a big thick towel and lowering it (with the towel) into the carrier can calm the cat and protect your hands from scrabbling feet!
So the cat’s in the carrier – result. Now for the journey, always place the carrier onto a passenger seat as cats want to be able to see their surroundings. If your cat gets carsick then ideally don’t feed them for a couple of hours before you set off and take some spare bedding if an accident does occur. Cats love warm, quiet environments so the quieter the better! There is a really good product called Feliway, it’s a synthetically-made pheromone that cats release when greeting each other or you – that cheek rub that you receive when they smooch around your legs. It makes them feel safe and secure and so by putting a couple of sprays into the car half an hour before you leave, it can really settle them down. The same principle applies for the carrier.
Arriving at the vets
Hopefully things have gone a little more smoothly this time and you have arrived without lacerations and your cat is calm. Now you’re entering very unfamiliar territory. If there are dogs in the waiting room, this can be unnerving for the cat (remember they recognise by smell so even if you live with dogs, these dogs will smell differently and will be seen as predators). After making yourself known to reception, go and sit away from the dogs and place the carrier next to you on the seat. Cats feel more secure if they have some height and can survey the scene so the floor is a no-no and try to hold the carrier above waist height when walking. Some cats will also feel more secure with a blanket placed over their cage: a case of “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me”. Avoid positioning the cat face to face with another cat as this can also cause stress.
Good luck and hopefully these tips will help to make visits a bit less stressful and if all else fails don’t forget we can come out and visit your cat at home.