Fun Cat Exams Start from the Home!

fear-free-facebook-cover-image-stress-freeBringing Cats to the hospital can be stressful on both the cat and the owner for multiple reasons.  Reasons people often decide not to bring their cat to the veterinary hospital include:

  • Fighting to get kitty into the carrier
  • listening to loud hisses and meows during the car ride
  • Hiding or fractious behavior in the exam room
  • Inter-cat aggression in the home when returning from the hospital visit

While solutions to some of these issues aren’t always simple or display instantaneous results, there are many things we can do to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in transporting our feline patients to and from the hospital.  Outlined below are simple things you can do to make your cat enjoy, rather than resent, their trip to the veterinarian.

At Home Before the Appointmentcat-in-carrier

  • Picking out the right carrier is perhaps the most important part. Choose a hard carrier that has both an opening in the front and the top of the carrier.  An opening on top of the carrier can allow your veterinarian to perform the entire exam while your cat is in the carrier.  This makes exams much more pleasant on patients who tend to be shy and feel more comfortable in their carrier.
  • Place your carrier in an open area of the house or som
    ewhere your cat loves to spend lots of time. Keep the doors open and place treats in the carrier to encourage your cat to spend time inside of the carrier.  If they do not want to go inside the carrier at first, you may remove the top of the carrier at first to make it appear more welcoming.
  • Place clothes with your scent on them, cat nip, or Feliway calming pheromone spray in the carriers to invoke a sense of calming and relaxation in the carriers.
  • On the day of the appointment, try to entice them into the carrier with the above mentioned techniques. Never force a cat into the carrier if they are actively resisting as this will enhance fear, anxiety, and stress.  You may need to call and reschedule the appointment, or schedule the doctor to make a house call instead.

Transportation to the office

  • Always carry the carrier with two hands under the carrier and hold at chest height. Cats prefer elevation.
  • NEVER carry the carrier with one hand on the handle like it’s a suitcase. This is a very unstable and unsecure feeling for your loved one.
  • ALWAYS transport your cat in carrier in a car due to safety reasons and reducing stress. The best place for the carrier is on the floor in between the front passenger seat and rear seats. This is a secure spot and will keep the carrier from moving or rattling during the drive to the hospital.
  • Having a towel or blanket over the carrier so they can’t see out can create a sense of security and hiding place to reduce stress.

In the Hospital

  • Our hospital gives all cats a towel to place over the carrier that has been infused with Feliway calming pheromone.
  • A pheromone diffuse will be active in the room as well to help provide a calming sense.
  • Place the carrier on an elevated surface in the waiting room, not on the floor.
  • When invited into the exam room, place the carrier on the table and open both the front door and top door of the carrier.
  • The exam can be performed in the carrier, on the scale, in your lap, or anywhere else in the exam room that they prefer. Remember, the cat is always the boss!
  • A variety of treats and catnip will be available in the exam room. You should always bring your own as well!

Reintroducing them at home:

  • Keep them in the carrier in an open area of the house. If the other pets in the house pay no mind to the carrier, let them out after 15-30 minutes.
  • If there is increased vocalization or aggression from your other animals, move the carrier to a separate room and close the door. Allow your cat to spend several hours in this room outside of the carrier before reintroducing them.
  • If you have dogs in the house, it is best to take them on a walk or let them out in the yard before bringing your cat in. This gives your cat plenty of time to get used to their normal surroundings without the stresses of a slobbery barking dog!

I hope that you were able to learn some tips and tricks from this blog that you can now use to make visits to and from the veterinary hospital much easier.  All of our team members are undergoing specialty training in making all patient visits “Fear Free” to enhance the experience and quality of medicine that we can practice.  As always, call us at 919-570-9311 for all of your pets needs.

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