Cats love the comfort and security of their own home, and most really don’t like being put into a carrier, going for a car ride, and then ending up in an unfamiliar place, full of unfamiliar sights and sounds (like dogs!), and then getting poked and prodded by a stranger. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what happens during a typical trip to the vet’s office. How can you make this experience less stressful for your sensitive kitty? Here’s some great advice from noted cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like a Cat.
1. Look for a cat-friendly veterinary practice. This could mean a cats-only practice, or one that has separate waiting areas and exam rooms for dogs and cats. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has a lot of useful information about cat-friendly vet practices.
2. Notice how all of the staff at your vet’s office work with cats. Do they spend time making your cat comfortable before they jump into the exam? Do they restrain your cat only when needed, and only very gently? It’s OK to shop around for a vet you feel good about.
3. Make trips to the vet less scary by keeping the cat carrier out in the open, rather than hiding it away between vet visits. Try to associate the carrier with more pleasant activities like playing with toys and getting treats. Grabbing your cat at the last minute and then shoving her into the carrier in a surprise attack also increases a cat’s stress about going to the vet.
4. You can get your cat used to the experience of riding in the car and visiting the vet’s office by putting her in the carrier and taking her for short rides around town…ending with a stop at the vet’s office so she can get used to the sights, sounds, and people there. Ask staff to spend a few minutes petting and playing with your cat (this is especially helpful when you get a new kitten).
5. Try to schedule your cat’s appointment on off times and days so the waiting room will be less hectic. It’s a good idea to avoid Saturday mornings if you can help it. Call the office to ask about their slow days and times.
6. While at the vet, try feeding your cat some treats to distract her. You should also politely tell curious kids in the waiting room that your cat is shy and would prefer not to be bothered. It’s OK to let your cat stay in her carrier for security in the exam room while you’re talking to staff and they’re not actively working with her. Prepare questions for the vet ahead of time so you don’t feel stressed and rushed if your cat is acting up.
7. Give your cat some time to adjust after you return home from the vet’s office. You can clean the carrier and the towel your cat sat on to remove the smell. If you have other cats in the home, be aware that they may be put off by the scent of the vet’s office on you cat upon her return. Some sniffing (and even hissing) could occur.
Your Animal Hearted purchase saves lives! 25% of all proceeds are donated to no kill animal shelters!
- AH Printing