It is very important to the health and wellbeing of your cat to have an annual checkup with their veterinarian. However, the entire experience can be very stressful for both the cat, as well as the pet owner. Working in a veterinary clinic, we often have cats cancel these important appointments last minute or owners avoid making the appointments altogether, just to avoid stressing their cat out. While owners have the best interest of their cats at heart, missing these important veterinary visits can miss out on early diagnoses of serious diseases and illnesses.
At West Hill Animal Clinic, we know that it is a struggle to get our feline friends into the veterinary clinic, so we have come up with five tips that can help to prevent the stress and anxiety for both you and your cat.
1. Selecting the proper cage:
Selecting the proper cage is very important in making your cat feel comfortable and safe for travelling to and from their veterinary visits. The carrier should provide enough room for your cat to turn around safely and fell comfortable. Carriers that open from the top also alleviate a lot of extra added stress than those that do not, simply because to get them out of the cage the majority of the time they have to be “dumped” out. A carrier that opens from the top, allows the veterinarian to do most of their exam, while your cat stays comfortably in the bottom half of the carrier; much like a bed.
Some also say that holding the carrier with two hands rather than the handle on top will allow more stabilization for your cat inside the carrier. Often, when they are carried by the handle, the weight is unbalanced and they could get crashed around or made to feel very unsteady.
2. Set the cage out 3-5 days prior to their scheduled veterinary visit:
Many pet owners will bring the carrier out the night before or the morning of their cat’s appointment. This triggers the “fight” or “flight” response in your cat since they very quickly learn what the meaning of the carrier is. There are countless times owners have to call to cancel last minute because they cannot catch “Fluffly” to bring her in.
By bringing the carrier out well in advance, you are giving them time to adjust and adapt to the carrier being out. Put treats inside the carrier and just leave it. Let your cat slowly explore the carrier, without the stress of trying to cram them inside 15 minutes before they are to arrive at their veterinary office. A few days helps them to build more trust around the carrier.
3. The use of Feliway:
Feliway is a product that you can buy in a form of a spray, it contains natural “happy” pheromones, specific to felines. We recommend spraying any blankets or towels that go inside your cat’s carrier, as well as a blanket or towel to cover the carrier before their visit to the vet. This creates a very calming atmosphere for your cat and will help to decrease their stress during their travels and visit to the veterinarian.
4. Pre-visit Medication/Sedatives:
In some cases, your veterinarian can prescribe medication or sedatives that can be given prior to their appointment to help to ease any stresses for your cat. Check with your veterinarian if this is an option for your cat.
5. Check out the waiting room prior to bringing your cat in:
Before bringing your cat in, take a quick peek into the waiting room and check to see if there is a lot of chaos going on. Barking dogs, yelling kids and ringing phones are all part of a busy veterinary clinic. If you find that this is the case, ask one of the veterinary staff if you and your cat can be placed in a room right away to allow more peace and quiet for your cat. Some owners will even sit in the car with their cats until the coast is clear and the veterinary staff will call them in.
Our optimal goal is that our patients are getting the best stress-free visits we can offer. We truly hope that these tips help to relieve the stress of veterinary visits for you and your cat!
Edited by Tanya, Manager/RVT