Do you avoid bringing your cat to the vet because you worry it is stressful for them??
Some well meaning owners who love their cats very, very much worry that a visit to the vet for their annual physical examination (+/- vaccinations) is stressful ….so sometimes they avoid bringing them. This is not a good idea!! An annual physical exam is an important part of your cat’s overall health and wellness plan. Even indoor cats should make the trip at least once a year!
Tips for making things a little more comfortable for everyone:
Make the Cat Carrier part of the furniture: The cat carrier should not be dug out of the closet (+/-accompanied by thumps, bangs and cursing) once a year only to have the cat dragged out from under a bed and unceremoniously jammed inside five minutes before it is time to leave!! If possible, leave the carrier in a quiet, pleasant part of the house with the door open and an irresistible blanket inside. Frequently leave treats inside the carrier and spritz it with either a calming pheromone spray such as Feliway (Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone – or ‘Happy Hormone’- that helps comfort and reassure cats by mimicking the natural feline facial pheromone that happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and familiar) or even Catnip spray. The idea is to make the carrier a familiar and pleasant place to the cat. When it is time to travel, do not clean out the carrier but leave familiar smelling blankets and toys inside.
Consider leaving your cat a little hungry prior to the trip and bringing along some food or favourite treats to be doled out as a distraction. (We have treats here but cats being cats often won’t take them unless they are familiar with them)
Resist the urge to swing the carrier as you walk. If possible, hold the carrier in two arms close to your body so that there is minimal swinging or jolting of the cat inside.
Cover the carrier with a familiar smelling blanket or towel to diffuse bright light, muffle sounds and minimize visual stimuli.
Drive carefully with smooth stops, starts and turns and the radio turned off (or at least turned down). Secure the carrier in the car so that it is not sliding about.
If the waiting room looks busy, consider waiting in the peace and quiet of your car (if weather allows) for your turn. You could even call us from your car and we would be happy to signal you when it is a good time to come in.
Feel free to ask for the exam room to be spritzed with a little Feliway spray before you and your cat enter it. (We generally try to do this foe cats but it never hurts to remind us!)
If possible, place the blanket or towel you have been using as a liner for the carrier on the exam table and place your cat on that nice warm familiar surface as opposed to the strange smelling, cold metal. You might even be able to use it to partially cover parts of cat at different points throughout the exam so that they feel less exposed and more secure. If your cat does not want to come out of the carrier, often the top can be taken off by loosening a few screws and the cat can be left sitting in the bottom half. Keep the cats head facing towards you if they appear nervous and let us start from the back end when examining.
Resist the urge to over reassure your cat – your cat will be picking up cues from you. Don’t talk in a high pitched baby talk but instead speak slowly in soft, low tones – if your cat senses you are calm and relaxed, that will go a long way towards keeping them calm and relaxed.
With a little time and effort, we can usually make the experience more pleasant for everyone and your cat’s overall well being is certainly worth the effort!
*Feliway Spray is available for purchase at Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic ($25.70 + HST)
* For cats that get exceptionally stressed or fearful, ask us about options for pre-medicating. ie medication that can be given to your cat at home 2-4 hrs prior to the appointment that will help reduce stress and anxiety levels (for everyone!)