Fearful Cats and Veterinarians: How to Improve the Quality of Their Visits

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Most indoor cats will spend their entire lives within four walls. When it comes time for their annual visit to the vet, they are popped in a box and removed from their home. To help ease this transition, the team here at Woodbine Animal Clinic has put together a few tips to help create fear-free visits to the Veterinarian for your cat.

The Carrier

We suggest that whenever possible, you take your cat’s carrier out a couple of weeks before you need to use it. Place it somewhere where your cat can explore it on their own time and make sure that there is soft bedding inside to help keep them comfortable. Try offering treats or meals around and even inside the carrier to help them associate it with positive experiences. Instead of forcing them into it when it comes time to leave, try coaxing them in with a treat. Once your cat is packed up and ready to go, we suggest carrying it as you would a box (with your hands underneath) versus carrying it by the handle. Your cat will be less likely to be shifted around inside this way. It also helps to have a carrier with a top can be removed so that they do not have to be taken out through the door, they may even be able to be left in the carrier for the majority of the exam.

Prep Your Vehicle

Inside your home, temperatures remain mostly the same year round. Putting your cat in their carrier and then removing them from their home only to put them into a freezing cold car isn’t a good feeling. Instead, take the time to warm up your car to a normal room temperature before bringing your cat outside.

Skip A Meal

Most owners don’t think of cats as being food motivated but have you ever been late to feed your cat dinner? Skip the meal prior to their appointment, let them arrive at the clinic hungry, but bring their very favorite treat with you. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when your cat is hungry and is distracted by a very tempting food.

Use Feliway

Feliway is a pheromone based product that can only be sensed by cats. This product mimics the same pheromones that a cat leaves behind when they rub their face on something. It tells them that this is a good, comfortable happy place and I can relax. Spray this on the bedding you are placing inside the carrier. We also recommend that you use a large second towel (that has been sprayed with Feliway) and drape it over the outside of the carrier so that it covers all sides but the door. This will help both keep outside sounds down slightly as well as block their view from what is happening around them, helping them to feel safer.

Arrive Early if Possible

Nervous and afraid cats do not want to be taken out of their carrier once they are in it. Ask your vet if it is possible to arrive early to your appointment so that your cat can be in the exam room with the door of their carrier open. Allowing him or her to come out of the carrier when they feel that it is safe.

Cat’s are finicky at best, but hopefully with these tips, our team can work with you to make visiting the veterinarian a positive and fear-free experience.  Contact us to learn more or make an appointment

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