The biggest issue cat owners have with bringing their cats in for an appointment is that their cats get too stressed coming to the vet, but look at it from the cat’s point of view.
The only time they see that carrier is when they are going to the vet,
The only time they go in the car, on the bus or for a short walk is when they go to the vet,
And the only time they go to the vet is to get vaccines, blood work or other procedures done to them.
At Don Valley Animal Hospital we do everything we can to make your feline friend`s experience with us as pleasant as possible but when they get to us already stressed out it provides them with little comfort. So here are 4 things you can do to make that annual vet visit easier on everyone involved:
1. Make them comfortable with their carrier.
Cats start getting stressed when you pull that carrier out of the closet or where ever you keep it away from them and out of the way. This is usually when your stress starts too because now they run and hide. The worst is when you think you`ve planned it out perfectly. You booked your appointment at a time where you won`t be stuck in rush hour, you`ve planned it so your cat will spend as little time in the carrier or having to wait at the vet`s for their appointment but now you`ve grabbed the carrier and they have taken off hiding. You call the vet to tell them you can`t catch your cat and will have to reschedule. Of course we are understanding, catching a hiding cat is not the easiest task even for us trained professionals. This could have all been avoided if your cat wasn`t so scared of its carrier. Instead of keeping the carrier out of sight bring it out of that cupboard and turn it into a bed with kitty`s favourite blanket. If you have a plastic carrier that you can take the top off of you can take the door and top off of and put it in your cat`s favourite hang out spot. To get your wary cat to check out their new cat bed you can give them a few of their favourite treats in the bed so that they realize how cozy and non-threatening the carrier really is. As your cat gets used to their carrier without the lid you could try putting it back on and follow the treat method to get them to check the carrier out again. Lastly add the door but leave it open. Once your cat is used to hanging out in their fully put together carrier all you will need to do is put some treats in there and they will go in willingly and you`ll be ready to move on to the next step.
2. Get them used to travelling.
Use which ever mode of transportation you use to take your cat to the vet you and get them used to travelling. It`s going to sound silly to take your cat for walks, drives or bus rides but if you take a little time to do so, bring their favourite treats to give them along the way so that everything is positive and there will be less fear and anxiety. Always be cautious about the weather before hand especially if walking or taking the bus, if it`s during the warmer months go for an evening stroll instead of in the middle of the day. If it`s a little cooler make sure kitty has their favourite blanket to keep them warm. If it`s extreme hot or extreme cold skip the walk or bus ride until the weather is milder. If you drive never leave your cat in the car even if it`s just to run in to a store for 1 minute. You are responsible for giving the treats and the comfort during this time so when you leave them it is a whole new experience and can get them very stressed out which is what all of these exercises are trying to avoid. Also note that the temperature in a car can rise or fall to dangerous levels in a very short time so it`s best not to risk it with your precious cargo en route.
3. Get your vet team in your corner.
Your vet is going to be more than happy that you are trying to get your cat used to the vet. You can call your vet and schedule just a weigh in that way they can make sure you are coming at a time where your pet will get to be seen and weighed but with out a full blown exam with all of the awkward positions and checking the mouth. Here the veterinary staff can spend some time giving kitty some treats and some pets. If you live close enough to walk to your vet you could even use these visits to get your pet used to going for a walk.
4. Talk To Your Vet Team
If nothing you are doing is helping, or if your cat will not take to the carrier no matter how many treats you put in it call your vet. We can talk you through all the products we have to help kitty calm down, whether they need to calm down over all or just around the carrier. There`s a pheromone spray that you could spray in the carrier to calm them down and make them more receptive to the treats and blanket you put in their carrier. If your cat is overall anxious and you would like to take them down a notch to be happier and more relaxing there are flavoured chews for them to take regularly to help them be less anxious. If you need to bring your cat in and they aren`t quite acquainted with their carrier yet call your vet. We can discuss the options of using a mild sedative to keep them calm so you don`t reverse any progress you have made by moving to quickly and putting them in their carrier before they are fully comfortable.