How to Ease the Stress of a Trip to the Vet for your Cat
Hello there, this is Patra, bringing you another batch of helpful hints for taking care of your cat, or if you’re lucky, cats. It’s a well-known fact that, no matter how friendly or gentle the veterinarian, most cats feel about as excited about going to the vet as humans feel about going to the dentist for a root canal! However, cats are also known for being especially talented at hiding signs of illness. So if routine checkups are key for healthy kitties, how do you make the trip to the vet a little less stressful? Luckily, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has published a few cat-approved guidelines about how to make the trip one of ease, purpose, and satisfaction.
For starters, make the carrier a “safe place.” Instead of leaving the carrier in the closet until it’s time for the dreaded trip to the vet, leave it out in a common room where your cat can become used to it. Placing cat nip, favorite toys, and some comfy bedding with your scent on it will also help transform the carrier from a harbinger of doom, to a familiar and unthreatening part of daily life. If you’re going to test this out, make sure to set your plan in action at least a week, if not a month, in advance of the next vet trip so even the most suspicious cat can acclimate.
It’s also important to choose the right carrier. Look for hard-sided carriers that open from the front as well as the top as removing a cat from the top of the carrier will make things much simpler than trying to drag him or her out of the front, or dumping them rather abruptly on the exam table. The best carriers will also be easy to secure with a seatbelt in the car. Another worthwhile investment may be feline facial hormone sprays. These sprays can be helpful in decreasing anxiety in cats, and can be used to spray the carrier (at least a half an hour before) placing your cat in the carrier for transport.
Speaking from personal, or should I say cat-al, experience, part of what is so hard about going to the vet’s is the overwhelming stimuli – other animals, new smells, strange sounds. It’s enough to make even the most poised and adventurous kitties feel nervous! What can be helpful, here, is to cover the carrier with a light towel or sheet so that it is a little darker and a little quieter. And please, try not to set the carrier on the ground where a curious dog may jostle your frightened cat!
Once you’ve made it through the ordeal, and perhaps even tension-free, make sure to follow through by giving your cat-love a little time to reintegrate. If he or she smells different and there are other cats in the house, the new “funny smell” can be a source of conflict between them. If you notice this, it might be wise to let your brave cat recoup in a separate room for a few hours.
Part of what makes us cats so special is how sensitive we are. If you can follow these few guidelines, we will be soooo grateful and be back to purring and playing in no time.
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