A Fear Free Trip To The Vet – For Cats
Cats become nervous and anxious with change so a trip to the veterinarian can be scary. But to keep our cats healthy it is so very important to have a physical exam every year as cats are masters of hiding disease and older cats should visit the veterinarian every 6 months. Don't forget these guys are aging 7 years every calendar year and a lot can happen in "7 years".
So here are the Three Steps to Making Every Cats Trip To The Vet Fear Free
1. The Carrier
The best carrier for a fear free trip is one that has 3 important features
– 1 Opens from the front
– 2 Opens from the top
– 3 The top can be easily and quickly removed so cats can remain in the bottom of the carrier during the exam if the cat prefers. We prefer to NEVER have to dump or drag a cat out of a carrier.
Make the carrier your cat’s home away from home.
This can be easy for a cat that isn’t already afraid of the carrier but may take some time for a cat that bolts every time he sees the carrier.
– Put the carrier where the cat likes to sleep – in a sun beam – off the ground – a quiet spot
– Use cat nip
– Feed your cat near and inside the carrier
– For those cats scared of the carrier you may need to start with the lid off the carrier
– Use synthetic Happy Cat pheromone – Feliway Spay or diffuser
– Here are a few quick hints from the American Feline Practitioners Association.
Other tricks to make the carrier a place of safety rather than fear...
- Put a non slip mat under the blanket or bed so that it does not slide around inside the kennel when cats are being moved.
- DO NOT force your cat into the carrier through the front door. Often pushing a cat into the “hole” can be very scary this is why we want to train your cat to make the carrier a home away from home. Sometimes going in backwards can help or using the opening on the top of the kennel. If you are having significant issues getting your cat into the carrier you should contact the hospital as your cat may need conscious sedation (just like some people need it when going to the dentist) or your cat may need a house call veterinary visit.
- DO NOT carry the carrier by the handle rather carry the carry as a fragile package in both arms and close to the chest.
- When transporting the cat in the carrier cover the carrier with a towel leaving the front door exposed. This gives your cat the freedom to hide away or look out depending on your cat’s preference.
- Typically it is best for each cat to have their own carrier.
- For more information check out our blog 9 Steps To Train Your Cat To Love His Carrier – for stress free travel. – and if you prefer video there is a link within the blog to a informative youtube video.
2. The Car Ride
- You don’t want your cat to arrive at the clinic shaken like a martini and you also want to make sure if there is an accident on route your cat is not injured – or you injured by a flying kennel. The safest spot for you cat is to place the carrier on the floor behind the passenger’s seat.
- In the car play calm quiet music. Now is not the time for an AC/DC concert.
- Keep in mind that cats become scared with sudden movements and noises so avoid slamming doors, driving aggressively, or taking the scenic winding road if possible.
- The Trip Home
Cats are very sensitive to smells and sometimes when you return home your other cats can act aggressively towards the returning cat as she may smell funny. Take these few simple steps to avoid problems between your cats after a visit to the vet.
- Leave your cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all your cats react. If all is calm then allow the returning cat out of the carrier.
- If there is tension between the cats take the returning cat to separate room for a minimum of 24 hours for her to smell like home again. You can also take the blanket out of the carrier and rub the other cats with her blanket.
- Use synthetic happy cat pheromone Feliway.
- Some owners will bring both cats to the hospital even if only one needs an exam so that they will both carry the scent of the hospital.