Any person who has a kitty that stresses when going for an annual veterinary visit will tell you; it isn’t only just stressful for the kitty, it’s stressful for the owners too! Many cat owners get stressed even just thinking about taking their cat to the veterinarian. I am here to help alleviate some of that stress, with tips to help make that visit more stress-free for everyone.
Leave your cat’s carrier out and in the open at all times. Don’t only bring it out for veterinary visits, because your kitty will associate the carrier with stressful veterinary visits. Every time you bring it out, the stress begins because your kitty will already know what’s in store for them. Make it a safe and comfortable environment that they like to be in and the first lag of your veterinary journey will be easy. Before loading your kitty in the car, make sure a familiar towel or blanket is covering their kennel, so that they can only see out of the front of the kennel (this decreases a lot of extra stimulation). Spray the kennel and blankets with Feliway Spray about an hour before leaving the house.
I should mention that the type of carriers that are best for your cat (and your veterinary team) are the ones that open from the front, as well as the top. If you’ve got a frightened kitty who is more comfortable in their kennel, it is easy for us to do the majority, if not, the entire examination, while they remain happily in their cage – all we have to do is remove the top!
When carrying your cat’s kennel, it is best to carry it from the bottom. I understand there are handles on many cat kennels, but when the handle carries them, the carrier tends to sway around a lot and your kitty may not feel secure, which only adds to their stress. It is important also to mention that if you have four cats, you need four separate carriers. Each kitty’s carrier will be their own and will be familiar to them individually. For the car ride to the veterinarian, it is important to keep your car at a comfortable temperature, making sure to remember that cats tend to like the heat. The absolute safest place for your kitty to be while in the car is the footwell of the back seat (there have been crash test studies done, check them out online).
Once you’ve arrived at the clinic, be sure to place the carrier either on your lap, or a table. The floor can be a scary place, and it is a terrifying angle to view things from – especially when there are barking or curious nosed dogs! If you’re not placed in a room right away, it never hurts to mention to the client care team, that your kitty is a little scared and anxious and mention that you’d like to be put in a room as soon as possible.
To summarize, I ask you to put yourself in your cat’s shoes when getting ready and heading for your veterinary visit. Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help to make your kitty’s visit as stress-free as possible, so they can receive the best medical care.
Written by Kirsty Riemersma, RVT