Most cat owners will agree that taking our feline friends to veterinarians can be extremely stressful for both owner and pet. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we have to get them there in the first place. Unlike dogs, most cats seldom travel by car. This action alone can and usually does freak cats out. First, you’ve got to load them in their carriers, and as soon as that procedure begins the jig is usually up that nothing good will likely come of this — from their perspective, anyways. With this in mind, here are some tips for making your next visit to the vet with your beloved putty tat as stress free as possible.
Feeling Your Vibe
One of the first things to remember with animals is that, like people, they can pick up on your vibe. If you’re worried, scared or sad they know it. That’s why it’s important for you to approach the entire ordeal with as much Zen as you can muster. If you’re stressed about it, they’re going to be. Try offering your cat lots of calm, quiet love and affection before gearing up to leave for the appointment, and it may just help you both to remain on a more balanced, even keel.
Address them in a relaxed manner with lots of pets and cuddles and then slowly and gently guide them into their carriers. Some people find wrapping them in a small towel and holding them for a while first before placing them in the crate with it helps.
Conditioning Pets for Travel
Another suggestion is to leave your cat’s crate out on a regular basis so that the mere sight of it doesn’t send them into a tizzy. If your cat can use its crate as a safe, quiet place on a regular basis they’re likely to regard it as their home, much like dogs who are crated. While dogs don’t initially like crates, eventually they’ll go in them on their own when looking for a nice, peaceful spot for taking a load off and getting a little R and R. After a while, they come to regard them as a safe place all their own. Providing your pet with a haven like this can reduce stress and make vet visits less traumatic for them.
Unfortunately, one of the more common problems associated with transporting your cat via crate and car is travel sickness. Because of this, it’s often a good idea to hold off feeding your cat in the hours prior to the visit. This can help reduce the chance of any motion sickness that may occur during the ride. If you’re worried about them being hungry throughout the day, set the appointment for a morning time slot. This way, when you get home, you can set out some dry treats for them to nibble on. Besides feeling rewarded, they won’t have a belly full of food to urp up 10 minutes later.
Remember, just because the ride is over doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, because queasiness can persist. Afterwards, wait at least an hour before giving them their regular portion of food.
You’ve probably already got a pet carrier for your cat, but the type of carrier you use is also important. Pet carriers should be large enough for your cat or dog to be able to stand, stretch and turn around in freely. For cats, hard carriers offering top-loading options versus doors make it much easier to reach in and lift them out.
Another tip is to try covering the crate with a familiar blanket or towel from home to help block out all the extraneous sights, smells and sounds that can contribute to alarming your cat. This helps with both the transportation aspects and all the stimuli of the waiting room. You can liken it to a bird drape or leading a horse with a blanket over its head.
Stress Reducing Tips
These last two tips are also ideas for the long-term conditioning of pets for vet visits and travel in general. Get your cat used to things like exams by handling them often in a manner similar to what your cat would experience at the vet’s office. Check them out regularly from stem to stern, top to bottom. The more comfortable they are with being handled, the less stressful the vet’s exam will be.
And finally, while it may seem too overwhelming to even consider, getting pets used to car rides — even if they’re just around the block — that don’t include anything scary (like a vet visit) can go a long way toward reducing the overall fear they experience in unfamiliar situations. By following these tips you can help limit the amount of stress for everyone involved.