Cats are notoriously bad travellers :-( Classically cats are unique in every manner of the word... they don’t like change, detest being told what to do and loath transportation, so, faced with an impromptu car journey to the vets is disastrous...(cue the stroppy teenager routine), relentless screaming “are we there yet”? and protest vomit in the cat carrier...nightmare...right?!
The staff at SimplyCats are well adapted in the art of “speaking cat” and are clued-up with their idiosyncrasies. In this month's blog we want to provide our owners with the appropriate tools and knowledge for :
selecting appropriate carriers and offering successful desensitising methods
tackling transport anxieties
how to maintain a positive attitude to keep your cat at ease during its visit
When thinking of the perfect cat carrier we need to consider the following elements... cats really don’t like being overlooked or forced from their carrier, so a carrier that has covered sides and has the ability to remove the lid from its base is ideal. We need our cats to be as comfortable as they can be, so providing them with a size appropriate cage is crucial, we prefer carriers to measure 1.5x the overall size of the cat (nose-tail) or as long as your cat is able to stretch out and lie without being cramped this is most appropriate.
We strongly recommend that owners consider leaving the carrier out in the cat's environment and use it as a “resting spot”. This builds on positive experiences with the cage and thus can put the cat in a relaxed state if it is present all the time. You can encourage your cat to interact with the cat box by placing his/her favourite treats in the carrier (who doesn’t love treats - cats associate receiving food as reward).
Getting a cat used to travelling is different all together and can be a lengthy process to see improvements. Usually it’s sensible to get your cat used to going on small journey’s first... we are fully onboard with using pheromone synthetics like feliway to neutralise the space by introducing a calming scent, spraying your cat’s carrier 30 minutes beforehand is quite a useful tip.
Avoid feeding your cat as this can make them feel nauseous if they are getting too worked-up.
So... you and your cat have made it safely to the vets... a stress-free journey and you even managed a Carpool Cat-eoke to “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads!
A purrfect consultation
We have some great tips to ensure your cat’s experience in the consult room is equally as stress-free. This is achieved by offering a standard 15 minute consult length with an option of having a 30 minute appointment. The beauty of which, enables the Vet to adopt a more relaxed approach to the examination, as we already know cats are reserved in unpredictable situations.
It’s important to take the Veterinary Surgeon's lead as you navigate through the consultation. The vet will take the lid of the carrier and make a fuss of your cat to make it feel at ease...they may use this time to ask you a few questions to gain history while your cat confidently struts about the room scoping out the environment.
This is all positive feedback and is observed by the vet to gauge how well your cat is responding to his/her surroundings. The key thing to remember is to not force a situation. Cats will typically have a more enjoyable experience if they are kept calm and relaxed.
Sometimes cats require additional encouragement, so in these cases we wouldn’t push a cat beyond his/her tolerance threshold...instead we would acknowledge that the cat isn’t likely having a positive response to the consult and will halt the appointment and invite the client back on a different day to allow the cat to calm down.
What are the key benefits of an ISFM gold standard feline friendly practice?
The journey to create a worldwide programme for cat-friendly clinics began in 2012. It was recognised that cats require a different consultation style... this was measured against the species unquestionable uniqueness and specific needs.
The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) thus created a standardisation scheme, graded Bronze, Silver and Gold.
It gave Veterinary Practice the opportune moment to apply for the membership level that reflected their provision within the practice for their feline patients... here at SimplyCats Vet Clinic we achieved the Gold Standard ;-)
The organisation acknowledges that taking your cat to the vet is stressful for cats and it can be an unpleasant experience for the owner too. The immediate benefits to an owner are that
a feline-friendly practice has taken a proactive step to ensuring that feline specific needs, behaviour and physiological requirements are met.
they have ensure their staff have access to relevant feline CPD courses that have the most up to date information.
provisions are put into place to have longer consultation slots to nurture more calmer consult styles...that are preferred to cats.
they continue to provide client education on current treatment tailored specifically for felines.
the practice makes subtle adaptations to their premises to enable an airy, calm and relaxed environment flows throughout each room. Using Feliway plug-ins is useful to manage and neutralise/eliminate scents and smells.