Cats are creatures of habit…. happy in their own territory and following a regular daily routine. It’s no surprise that a trip to the vet is never a highlight for them and for some it can be a very scary and stressful event.
Firstly, they are bundled into their cat carrier; then there’s the frightening car journey followed by new sights, sounds, smells and people once they arrive at the veterinary surgery. All this before they even reach the vet’s consulting room where they are then examined, possibly injected or even worse, have their temperature taken!
It’s no wonder that most cats and their owners find the whole experience stressful.
However, there are ways you can make the trip a bit less traumatic. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts, before and during your visit.
Leave cat carrier out between visits-for a lot of cats, the only time they see their carrier is when it’s time for the dreaded trip to the vets. It will probably smell of the veterinary surgery and have negative associations for your cat. Therefore, it’s a good idea for it to be left out around the house so it doesn’t become an alien object.
Make the carrier as inviting as possible and leave it in their favourite sleeping area a day or two before their visit
-put a comfortable blanket and a favourite toy in it.
Spray carrier, bedding and car with a pheromone spray such as Feliway
-do this an hour before you set off.
Ensure the carrier is secure in the car
-put it in the footwell or secure it to the seat with a seatbelt.
Cover the carrier
-use a blanket to cover the carrier to help your cat feel safe and to muffle the sounds of the car and traffic.
-avoid braking hard, driving fast around bends and honking your horn.
Play relaxing music in the car
-this will muffle frightening sounds as well as keeping you more relaxed
Take short journeys regularly that don’t end up at the vets
-this will help your cat get used to travelling and reduce the chances of them having negative associations with the car. This is highly recommended for young cats and kittens.
Put cat the carrier on a chair in the waiting room if possible
-cats feel safer up at a height. It also reduces the chance of anyone walking into the carrier.
To remove your cat from its carrier, take the lid off when possible
-this is less stressful than trying to lift your cat out through the carrier door (especially when your cat is doing its best impression of a starfish!). Your cat will also feel safer being in its basket and the vet may be able to do a lot of the examination with him/her still in the carrier.
During the examination talk smoothly and calmly to your cat
-you can also stroke his/her favourite spot as long as it doesn’t interfere with the vet’s examination.
If you have a kitten, get him/her used to different people handling
-the more people your kitten meets the better he/she will cope with strangers when they grow up. Ensure handling is gentle and the kitten is enjoying it.
Never force your cat into the carrier
-put the carrier at floor level and encourage them to walk in.
Never have your cat loose in the car
-this is both dangerous to you and your cat and could invalidate your insurance if an accident is caused by getting under the pedals etc. There is also a high chance your cat could escape when you get out of the car.
Never scruff, drag or shake your cat from their carrier
-put yourself in your cat’s position, would you want to be shaken out of your car when you arrive somewhere you’re unsure of or scared about?!
Don’t feed your cat for a few hours before your appointment (unless instructed otherwise by the vet)
-this reduces the likelihood of your cat vomiting, urinating or defaecating during your visit.
Never let your cat wander freely in the waiting room
-this is dangerous for your cat, they could escape from the surgery or be stood on. It is also very stressful for other cats in the waiting room who are likely to be feeling very anxious.