One of the most common things we hear from our clients who own cats is that it is so hard to get them to the vet, and they seem so stressed out once they get to the vet, which also causes stress for their human family too!
If you know your cat has a visit with us in the next few weeks, start by putting your carrier in a place in your home where your cats spend a good amount of time (by the food if it’s our cats!). You can put a blanket, bed, or even a t-shirt that smells like you inside the carrier. You can also put treats inside the carrier. The idea is that the more positive exposure that they have with the carrier, the less your cat will run and hide every time they see the carrier come out. If you have a product like Feliway, you can put that on or in the carrier as well. Feliway is an artificial pheromone spray which mimics natural calming pheromones. Just be sure to let it dry before having the cat around it. It is made with alcohol, which is an irritating smell for cats. Once it dries, the alcohol smell goes away. It can also help to cover your cat carrier with a towel once the cat is inside, and if sprayed with Feliway, even better!
One trick you can try if you have two cats is to bring them both, even if you only need one to be seen. We have seen situations where one cat was brought, and when it was returned home, the owner experienced fighting between their cats. Bringing both cats can reduce the stress of reintroducing them in the home.
Also, in rare cases where these techniques don't help, we can prescribe a medication that you give at home that will help calm your cat before their visit.
Once your cat is at HAH, there are a few things we do to help alleviate stress in feline patients. First, we offer clean towels that have been sprayed with Feliway. We encourage our clients to put the towel on the carrier while they wait for their appointment. I just saw a cat yesterday who came into the office howling, and after a few minutes with just the towel on top of their crate, they were quiet. In our exam rooms we use Feliway diffusers, which also release the calming pheromone for the length of their visit with us. We encourage you to open the cat carrier once in the exam room, to let your cat have a chance to explore the room before we exam them.
Finally, if your cat is dropped off with us, you may notice that when you leave our office that their carrier has a sticker and wipe on top of it. The wipe is yours to use the next time you need to travel with your kitty, to help them stay calm in their carrier. Again, just let the Feliway dry before putting the cat inside.
Here's to getting your cat to the vet with the least amount of stress on them and you!