Lindsay Donaldson is a small animal vet working in general practice in South West London. Her special interests are cardiology and anything and everything feline. Here she reveals her top tips for a stress free feline visit to the vets…
Bringing your cat to the vets can be a stressful experience for both you and your feline friend. However, visits for routine health checks, and early on in the course of an illness will significantly improve your cat’s health and welfare. There are a few relatively simple steps which, for the majority of cats and owners, should make your visit a significantly happier and less stressful experience for all!
Preparing for a visit:
The choice of cat carrier carries an importance that is often overlooked. It must be sturdy, secure and quiet in order to reduce the anxiety of the cat travelling within. Some cats like to be able to see out, whereas others are less anxious if the basket is covered over with a blanket. A removable top is very useful once reaching the vets as, if a cat is painful or nervous, they can do a lot of the examination with the cat remaining in the base of the carrier where they feel safe.
If possible make the carrier a familiar part of the cat’s life. Remove the top, and you can use the base with some soft blankets as a bed at home, meaning the cat is not scared by the box before a visit.
When booking an appointment with the reception, please remind them if your cat is likely to be very anxious. This will allow your vet to find a suitable time for you to visit to minimise stress and make sure they have enough time to examine your cat without rushing them and prepare equipment they may need.
With kittens or young cats, taking them on occasional short car rides will ensure they are used to travelling. Always make this a pleasant experience and drive carefully otherwise this may contribute to stress.
On the day:
Locate your cat well before departure. Remain calm and reduce any outward display of fear or anxiety as this will have an effect on the mood of your cat.
Keep a positive attitude! If the cat is not used to the basket place a familiar blanket, catnip or toys in the basket before loading your cat. If necessary remove the top of the carrier and encourage the cat into the bottom tray, then calmly replace the top and door. Try to never force the cat into the box.
Place the cat gently into the car avoiding too much knocking of the carrier and place the box on the floor of the car or secure on a seat with a seat belt. A moving carrier will frighten the cat.
On arrival at the practice please inform reception if your cat is anxious, they will always aim to move you away from any dogs and can provide blankets to cover your basket if required while you wait to be seen.
After your visit:
Open the door of the carrier when you get home and let your cat find the way out in their own time. Stressed cats may often lash out, even if they are the most loving of cats normally.
With each successful visit, anxiety levels for both you and your cat should reduce, meaning vet visits should no longer be something to dread!