Tuesday, June 25, 2024

A ‘purrfect’ trip to the vets for your cat

by Handy Mag
Published: Updated:

by Helena Dewhurst, RVN, Station House Vets

A car journey and vet visit can be very stressful for your cat due to unfamiliar sounds, sights and smells, and because they are outside their home (safe) territory. Here are some tips to reduce that stress.

Choose a good carrier which is sturdy, easy to clean and top-opening as well as door-opening. One which restricts views and is big enough for your cat to turn around in is ideal. Feeling secure and partly hidden from view will help reduce stress.

Get your cat used to the carrier – easier said than done, but if you take on a kitten think about the carrier being part of the normal furniture of the house from day 1. Leave it out as a bed, or feed them in there so that they associate it with nice things.

You can do this with an adult cat too over time – perhaps buy a different, more suitable carrier to start the process.
Similarly you can get them used to car journeys over time so that this aspect of a journey is not so stressful when the V.E.T. visit comes around!

Spray the bedding inside the carrier with a pheromone spray 20 mins before use when attending an appointment – this gives the scent message that all is OK.

Be gentle but firm when placing your cat in the carrier (here a top opening carrier really comes into its own as opposed to one with a door only). I have often found that upending the carrier so the door is at the top and placing the cat in backwards will usually work with the most resistant of kitties!

Drive smoothly and avoid loud music. Many cats prefer their carrier to be covered with a towel or blanket as it reduces stimuli. Place the carrier in a footwell or secure on a seat with a seatbelt. Think how it must be to be your cat; out of your safe territory, in motion but not in control of your immediate future…and act accordingly.

When you are at the vets there may be a ‘cat-only’ waiting area which reduces the sight and sound of any dogs also waiting. If you can, raise the carrier off the ground e.g. on to a table or adjacent chair – cats feel safe higher up.

Any Practice which is certified an ISFM Cat-Friendly Clinic, as we are at Station House Vets, will have additional measures in place to help manage your cat’s stress levels (and maybe yours also!).

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