The dreaded vet visit…For most people, preparing for a vet visit involves chasing your cat down, pulling them out from their hiding space of choice, wrestling them into their carrier, and eventually incurring a few scratches and maybe a bite along the way. The next half of getting them there is spent in the car while your cat yowls from their carrier- which can only be described as your cat shouting profanities from the backseat.
Did you know that there is a better way? In this edition of our blog, we will discuss how you can make vet visits much easier and the benefits of choosing a cat-only clinic!
Helping your cat navigate a vet visit starts at home. While prepping your cat from an early age works best, cats of all ages will benefit from these simple and easy tips to be pros at getting in their carriers and making the trip to see us!
Get your cat used to being held, palpated, and generally poked and prodded. Your cat trusts you, so these home exams should feel more like a comfortable massage. Take a peek in their mouths and ears. Coax them with plenty of treats, put them in compromising positions that result in scritches in their favorite spots and lots of loving words of encouragement.
Start with the carrier. Choose one big enough for your cat to turn around in and pay close attention to the different ways it opens. In our experience, hard carriers with a removable top (or top entrance) and a main door work best. Most cats are accustomed to only being put in their carrier when it is vet time. If you make their carrier a regular spot for them instead, they will have a less negative association with it.
To start, leave the carrier in a spot they enjoy sleeping. Put blankets, towels, or other soft, comfortable items in the carrier so that they can use it as a safe space to sleep, hang out, or enjoy a tasty snack! If your cat is hesitant about getting in their carrier, try putting their food bowl inside or a little stash of scrumptious treats.
Forcing your cat into the carrier can leave them traumatized when it comes to travel. If your cat absolutely refuses after multiple failed attempts, a top-loading carrier will be less stressful if you must resort to inserting them.
Once your cat has associated their carrier as a place of refuge, start closing them in and walking them around the house. Keep it short, and gradually work your way up to longer stints enclosed. Once your cat feels comfortable being walked around the house, try short trips outside. Always work with a gradual build-up to help ease your cat into new situations.
In general, most cats panic during car trips. Start with just putting the carrier into the car (be sure to have the interior temperature near that of in the house). Once your cat seems pretty comfortable with just being in their carrier in the car, short trips around the neighborhood can be introduced. It's helpful to have an assistant who can drive the car while you ply your cat with tasty snacks. Gradually increase the length of your trips and build up to the time it takes to get to the veterinarian. Remember, soft music is best, the temperature should be comfortable, and windows are better left closed.
Comforting items like blankets that smell like home, pheromone spray (Feliway Classic), their favorite treats and toys can also help. Lastly, remember your cat takes a lot of emotional cues from you! If you are feeling stressed or anxious, they can pick up on those feelings, and it will heighten their fear and anxiety. When you are as cool as a cucumber, they will be too.
Your main job is done! You have accustomed your cat to their carrier and the car - you brought a blanket that smells like home, and they are ready for their visit! In a traditional veterinary practice, barking dogs and stress in the air can make the visit itself amp the stress levels back up for your feline no matter how much carrier and car desensitization they have had. With TLC Cat Clinic, you are in luck! As a cat-only clinic, you and your cat can rest assured that you will not encounter any canines in our office. We also stagger appointments to keep the waiting room comfortably calm and work hard to help ensure your cat's comfort with Feliway pheromone diffusers plugged in almost every outlet.
We are cat people! We understand what scares them, how to comfort them, and what they need to feel secure. Our exam rooms are smaller because our clients are smaller, and it keeps your cat feeling cozy. Our experienced team will help establish a connection and bond with your feline family to help make veterinary visits less stressful. Remember - bringing your cat in for regular care will help keep this bond strong and keep them healthy!
If you are ready to book your cats' next appointment, give us a call today! We are currently accepting new clients, so whether you have a new kitten or are looking for a change to a cat-only clinic, we are here for you and your feline family!