If the thought of wrangling your cats to get them to their vet appointment makes you cringe, you’re not alone. Who doesn’t enjoy peeling their cats out from under the bed, somehow coercing them into the carrier, and then driving them to the vet's office? This can be a highly stressful event, not only for your cats, but for you as well. And the experience at the clinic hasn’t even begun yet! I
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If the thought of wrangling your cats to get them to their vet appointment makes you cringe, you’re not alone. Who doesn’t enjoy peeling their cats out from under the bed, somehow coercing them into the carrier, and then driving them to the vet's office? This can be a highly stressful event, not only for your cats, but for you as well. And the experience at the clinic hasn’t even begun yet! It's no wonder, according to the AVMA, nearly 45% of cat owners don't consistently bring their felines in for routine wellness exams. This is partly due to cats being “too hard to transport”.
But will your cats actually hate you for taking them to the vet? You'll never actually know what your cats are truly thinking, but there are studies that show that your cat really does love you and chooses to be around you. Of course, that's far from the conventional line of thinking that our cats are aloof and really only like us for the food we give them! So it isn't surprising if you're concerned your feline companion may harbor a grudge after returning home from the vet. However, with a little preparation, you can minimize the stress for your cat, and ultimately for yourself as well. We truly believe that no cat should be forced to go without healthcare simply because of fear and anxiety.
Top tips for reducing the stress of taking your cat to a vet appointment:
- The Carrier: Making sure that cats are used to going into their carriers and that the carriers are clean and cozy is very important. We recommend, if at all possible, leaving the carrier out at all times, preferably in a room where they spend a lot of time, so cats see the carrier as a desirable and safe resting place - like the cat in the image above. Providing a soft clean blanket or towel in the carrier also makes the trip more enjoyable and keeps your cat from sliding around, which can be stressful. It may also help to place some catnip, yummy treats, and/or favorite toys inside. The key is to make the carrier a safe, familiar space that's associated with positive experiences. It may take some time to get there, so be patient. These strategies should make it easier to get your cats into their carriers, thereby reducing some of the stress of transport.
- The Car Ride: The best place for the carrier to be is on the floor behind the passenger seat, as this will provide the most security and least amount of visual stimuli to the cat. If you put the carrier on a seat, be sure you seatbelt it in place. (Never put the carrier somewhere it can move around - like the back of a truck - as that can be dangerous. You want to make sure it's secured in place at all times!) You may also cover the entire carrier with a large towel to make the cat feel more hidden and secure.
- The Lobby: We encourage you to wait in our feline-friendly waiting area (located in the Silver Collar Boutique adjacent to the lobby) after checking in for your appointment. That waiting area is quieter, with less traffic and no loud dogs to potentially upset your cats. Cats naturally enjoy being up high and feel more secure if they are off the floor, so we encourage you to put your cat's carrier on a chair next to you rather than on the floor.
- The Exam: Ideally, we like for cats to come out of the carrier on their own, instead of being pulled out. If the carrier's lid can be removed or opened, this will aid in moving the cat if we need to expedite matters. Most cats don't need to be “scruffed” (grabbing the cat by the loose skin around their neck) during exam or treatments, and we refrain from doing so. Our staff are trained in cat-friendly handling techniques and understand feline behavior. We regularly use large clean towels to assist in covering the cat and manipulating them if needed. We know that cats aren't "being mean" but are just reacting out of fear. Our goal is to minimize these fears and make the visit as enjoyable and as fear-free as possible.
This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center then further edited for syndication.