Dr. Eisenmann of Lone Mountain Animal Hospital explains how to reduce you cats stress preparing for trips to the veterinarian’s office.
Like humans, your cat requires annual trips to the doctor for check- ups and preventative care. However, it can be a challenge getting your furry feline to the veterinarian. Because they associate the carrier and journey with stress, most cats do not like coming to the clinic. There are ways to make the trip to the vet a less traumatic and happier experience for all.
The most common reason kitties get stressed is that they are comfortable with their surroundings and need time to adjust. Typically, cats see their carrier once a year and associate this with a negative and stressful experience. If the carrier is not something your cat sees on a daily basis, he/she will need time to adjust to the new space. Here are some tips on decreasing stress and enhancing your cat’s overall veterinary experience:
- Place the carrier in a room your cat spends a lot of time in. Fill the carrier with their bedding, favorite toys, and treats
- Wipe insides of the carrier with a synthetic pheromone such as Feliway® to add calming effects
- Be patient! It may take your cat several days or weeks to become familiar and comfortable with her carrier.
- Positive reinforcement. Reward your cat with treats or affection when he/she approaches the carrier so they know it’s a safe place
Sometimes life gets in the way and we can’t plan ahead. Here are some steps to take if your cat needs to get in her carrier should an unexpected illness or emergency occur:
- Move slowly. Cats can sense tension and stress. If you are calm and collective, your cat will be as well
- Place carrier in small room where there is not a lot of hiding places.
- Encourage your cat with treats and toys.
- If you’re still having trouble, you may remove the top portion of the carrier or open the top, and gently place the cat inside.
- Covering the carrier with a towel and/or spraying carrier with a pheromone can also help reduce stress
In cases of multi-cat households, coming home from the veterinarian can be challenging as well. Cats smell different to other cats after being to the vet, which can create some tension in the household. Try bringing the cats to the clinic together, since they will all smell like the clinic, it will decrease tension back home. Try to leave the cat in the carrier when you first arrive home for a minute or so for the others to sniff and get their bearings. If you sense the tension between the cats or have had previous issues, place the cat in another room for a few hours to a day with food, water, and litter. This will allow the cat to adjust and smell like home again. If all goes well and there is no tension, you can let the cat out of the carrier to go on with her day.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners has a great website regarding cat care as well as tips and information on behavior, preventative care, introductions, adoptions and more.