Take the stress out of going to the vet
We love our cats and only want the best for them, but the mere thought of having to get them in a carrier and to the vet's office doesn't seem worth it, does it? Here are some tips from CATalyst Council on How to Get Veterinary Care for Cats Without Yowls, Hissing and Bared Claws.
1. Make the carrier your cat's home away from home
Plan ahead! Keep the carrier out and accessible all the time, not just when it's time to go to the vet. Line it with a comfy blanket, some of your cat's favorite toys and some treats. This way, the cat will already be familiar with and unafraid of the carrier. If your cat is still not interested in the carrier consider buying a different carrier, preferably one that is a top-loader. These have tops that can be removed and this allows the cat to stay in the bottom portion of the carrier. This way the veterinarian can still conduct an exam, but your cat will feel secure.
2. Don't force the issue
If your cat does not willingly go into the carrier, do not shove and fight her to do so. Again, a carrier with removable top can be helpful in this case and allow you to set the cat inside with fewer struggles. If you have a front loading carrier, try turning it up on one end with the door facing up. Support your cat, gently holding the feet close to the body and lower him or her in tail first.
3. Train your cat to be a traveler
It is important to teach your cat to be comfortable riding in the car. It is best to start this when your cat is young as this will make it less traumatic for them when it is time for their annual visit to the veterinarian. To build up to riding in the car, carry your kitty around the house in his carrier then work up to short drives in the car around the block. Then build up to a visit to the vet's for a meet and greet session that does not involve any type of exam. Make sure after each outing, even when you walk around your house, to give your cat a reward or treat. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to get your cat into his carrier when it is time for the visit to the vet. And if you have time to spare that's a good thing; letting your cat wait and calm down a bit can actually help ease stress.
4. Play Peek-a-Boo!
Cats feel safe when they have a place to hide so place a towel or blanket on the inside of their carrier and then drape one on the outside of the carrier and this familiar blanket/towel will also work to comfort them as well.
5. No food before traveling
Cats tend to get motion sickness so picking up the food before a visit will reduce the risk of your cat becoming sick while on the way to the vet's office. And since your cat will be slightly hungry when he arrives he will be more apt to take treats from the staff making the visit pleasant for all involved.
6. Try Pheromones
Cheshire Cat Clinic uses a synthetic feline pheromone called Feliway, to help calm kitties in the clinic. This pheromone replicates the "feel good" chemical signal that cats use when rubbing their face against a familiar object. We spray it on towels used to hold cats for exams and have a plug-in diffuser in the front lobby. Feliway is available for purchase at Cheshire Cat Feline Health Center.
7. Set a good example
Animals pick up on our cues and will often mirror our own feelings. If you are stressed out, your cat will be too. Leave yourself plenty of time to get the cat into the carrier and make it to your appointment. Being calm and relaxed can greatly affect your cat's behavior.
8. Talk to your veterinarian
It is important to be on the same page with your cat's doctor. Although giving a sedative before an appointment can be helpful, it is not always best choice for every cat. Never give a sedative without being advised to do so by the veterinarian. Talk to our vet about this and other options. She will recommend the best and safest plan of action that will keep them healthy and you happy.