Working at a veterinary clinic I saw many cats who did not want to be at the office and heard too many stories from owners of how much of a fight it was to just get the cat in the carrier. Taking our cats to the vet is something that people loathe doing because its such a hassle so often times people only take them in when there is a serious issue.
Cats are missing their regular check-ups because the pet parents do not want to fight them and that can cause medical issues to be missed early on or even prevented. There are ways to make vet visits easier for everyone and that starts right at home.
5 tips for Better Vet Visits for everyone!
Don’t just bring out the carrier when its time to go to the vet. Typically, a cats carrier lives in the closet or garage and comes out minutes before you are ready to leave for the vet clinic. This is a big mistake that pet parents make because the cat has only associated that carrier with the terrifying place that they are about to head off to. Instead, leave the carrier out and allow the cat to get comfortable with it and even use it as an extra bed.
To build up the positive association, even more, you can use feeding time and treats near and in the carrier to make it a good place to be.
Use Feliway. Feliway mimics natural feline facial pheromones which can help to calm your cat. You can spray Feliway inside the carrier and even ask your veterinarian if they have a Feliway diffuer in their cat room and/or can spray it on their exam table. You can purchase Feliway here
Visit a Fear Free vet clinic. Veterinary professionals that are Fear Free certified have gone above and beyond to make the clinic experience comfortable for all pets. They reduce stress as much as possible in pets by doing a few simple things that you may not see in many practices such as using non slip mats on their exam tables, using low-stress handling techniques, using pheromones in their lobby and exam rooms, ushering pets into exam rooms as quickly as possible to reduce any possible confrontations with other animals in the waiting room, and so much more!
Fear Free is a newer movement in the veterinary world and if you vet clinic isn’t on board yet ask them if they have heard of the program and would be willing to implement some techniques to make the visits more comfortable for your cat. You can learn more about the Fear Free mission at https://fearfreepets.com/
Handle your cat at home. Use positive reinforcement to reward you cat while at home for being handled like she would be a the vet clinic. Rubbing her paws, touching her mouth and ears, and handling her all over will help to make being handled at the vet a less terrifying experience.
Remember to pair the handling with a reward to make it an experience she learns to enjoy.
Go to the vet on a regular basis. Having positive experiences at the vet will help your cat to learn that the clinic is a pretty great place to go! Regular vet visits can also prevent and help to detect illness and diseases early on which will keep your cat happy and healthy for many years to come!
If you need any more tips on how to make a visit to the vet easier for your cat please reach out for a phone consultation! I am also happy to speak with you or your veterinarian about the Fear Free initiative if you would like more information.