Make Veterinary Visits Less Stressful for Your Cat
Did you know that cats actually out number dogs as pets in the U.S.? Yet, in spite of their greater numbers, we see far fewer felines at the clinic than we do dogs.
Traditionally, cats don’t like coming to the vet. They don’t like the carrier, the car ride, or the office visit. The great news is, there is something we can do to make things better. Cats can learn to tolerate, dare we say even enjoy, veterinary visits if we just take the time make things a little more cat friendly.
Planning for Feline Veterinary Visits Ahead of Time
As an owner, you can help decrease your cat’s stress by taking the time to get them used to the experiences associated with veterinary visits ahead of time. We have included a list below of some cat-friendly recommendations based on information provided by the International Society of Feline Medicine and American Association of Feline Practitioners.
- Start working with your cat at as young an age as possible. You can retrain older pets but youngsters will always be easier.
- That means getting your cat accustomed to the carrier as early as possible.
- Make the carrier a part of the furniture so it isn’t just the evil box that comes out for veterinary visits. Leave it open and out in the main living area.
- Place toys and treats inside. Use a familiar favorite blanket, catnip or a pheromone product such as Feliway to make it even more inviting.
- Try feeding your cat in the carrier. It allows you to keep track of what everyone is eating in multi-cat households and as an added bonus, makes the carrier even more inviting.
- Get your cat used to riding in the car. Again, start as early as possible. Start with short trips or even just sitting in the car with the motor running. Don’t be in a hurry and don’t be afraid to use treats. Believe it or not, there actually are cats that like to go for car rides.
- Once your cat is accustomed to the car, try going to the clinic for a social visit. Have technicians and front staff give your cat loving and some treats. Walk kitty around the clinic and then go home.
- Practice doing the types of things your veterinarian will do at home.
- Hold and look at paws, peer into ears and gently handle your cat all over their body.
- Try using tasty treats as a way to teach your cat to open their mouth. This could come in handy should you ever have to medicate kitty later on. It helps when it’s time to introduce the toothbrush as well.
- Plan ahead. Don’t be in a rush. Make sure you know where your cat is long before it’s time to leave. If you can, get the cat to enter the carrier on their own. If you know that your cat gets upset in the waiting area, call ahead and make arrangements to get them in a room right away.
- Make sure that there is a familiar blanket and/or toys in the carrier. The smell of home is always calming.
- Understand how your stress and anxiety affect your cat. Whatever you feel telegraphs straight to your pet. Veterinarians know this but few owners realize it.
- Plan for the trip home as well. If you have more than one cat at home leave the patient in the carrier until you know whether their housemates will behave aggressively or not. If they do, keep them in separate rooms until friendly relations have returned though the door.