Cats are creatures of habit and comfort. While many don’t appreciate the journey to the vet clinic, there are several things we can do to make the visit less stressful for them, and also less stressful for you.
The type of cat carrier you use can change how secure your cat feels during transport. Most cats love boxes, and some will also learn to love their cat carrier! The best type of carrier is a sturdy, hard carrier which can be opened both at one side (to allow the cat to walk in or out) and from the top (to allow lifting out). This is generally preferred to soft, cloth carriers which collapse easily. It is important that cats be contained within a cat carrier while coming to Keysborough Veterinary Practice as it is both safer for them in the car (they are unable to cause an accident and would be more protected in the event of an accident), prevents escapes from the car park as we are situated on a major road, and will make them feel more secure if there are dogs around.
While in our waiting room, minimising your cat’s exposure to loud or curious dogs will reduce stress. If the waiting room is crowded we may offer to ‘hide’ your cat behind the front desk, out of sight of those dogs, or in an unoccupied consult room where it is quieter. Please also avoid placing your cat’s carrier directly in front of the heater, as cats may overheat.
In the consult room, the staff at Keysborough Veterinary Practice will often open the carrier door and invite the cat to walk out on its own. This is much less jarring than lifting the carrier up and shaking the poor cat out, so please refrain from doing this. Many cats just need a few minutes to think about where they are, or many will prefer to be lifted out of their carrier rather than shaken.
During the exam, we use Feliway pheromone diffusers to make the room smell more familiar and make your cat more relaxed. Feliway can also be used at home or inside the cat carrier for cats prone to stress. We use a soft covering on our exam tables and will sometimes cover anxious cats in towels so they feel hidden and more secure.
Some cats will happily consume tasty treats in the consult room, and we’re quite happy to offer them! But we wont be upset if your cat doesn’t feel like eating for us.
Many cats will benefit from being desensitised to the cat carrier long before their vet visit. This involves leaving the cat carrier open somewhere accessible where the cat can view it easily and ‘get bored’ of its presence. This might be under a coffee table, or in the hallway. Once the cat is accustomed to the carrier always being present, you can place treats around or inside the carrier to encourage a positive association. Some cats will even nap in their carriers!
Think about it from the cat’s point of view. If a strange box only appeared out of the dusty garage, full of dirt and spider webs, immediately before being thrown into it in order to be carried through a loud car to a strange place with uncomfortable surroundings and a dog, only to be shaken out of that box onto a cold table… you wouldn’t be thrilled about it either!
For cats that are extremely stressed about their vet visits, sometimes we will prescribe medication to have at home and take the edge off before they come in. If you think this may benefit your cat, please call us to discuss how we can facilitate a low-stress vet visit for your feline friend.