“Pussy cats turn into snarling tigers” is one phrase that many cat owners can relate to when they take their feline friend to the vet. Cats become stressed easily, and there is plenty to become stressed about before and during a visit to the vet. No wonder many cats respond with aggression or fear! The vets from Maxi Zoo have some tips on how cat lovers can gently prepare their furry charges for upcoming appointments.
Advance box and contact training
A pet transport box is the best and safest way to transport your cat to the vet. Do not carry them in your arms or on a leash like a dog. Risk that they will break free and run away in panic is too great. Get your animal used to the box. Many cat owners only get the box out of storage when it is time to go to the vet and as a consequence, an anxious cat associates this with something bad. Integrate the container into the cat’s everyday life. Either always have it in your home, filled with cosy blankets so that your cat can seek it out as a place of retreat, or start ‛box training’ several days before the vet appointment. First, lure your cat into the box with a toy or treat. If this works, take the next step and close the door and reward him or her again with a treat. The aim is to get the transport box to smell like your cat and for your cat to associate it with a positive experience. Take the cat in the box with you when you go driving, so that they develop a feel for the car. You can also practice examining your cat’s face, mouth, ears and paws from a young age. Having a cat accustomed to such contact can only be an advantage.
Boxes that can be opened from above are ideal as it is much easier for you or the vet to take the cat out, and less stressful for the cat. Cats feel less threatened when they are gently lifted out of the box from above. You can also fit your cat with a harness to ensure that they are easy to grip.
Plan ahead and stay calm at the vet
To avoid panic attacks in the waiting room, arrange an appointment at a time which is as quiet as possible. Do not let your cat out of the transport box out of pity! Staying calm in all situations helps your animal enormously, including in the examination room. Don’t add to their anxiety with your own. Very frightened cats can first be left in the car, as long as it is not too hot, or in winter, too cold. Ask the vet or vet’s assistant to let you know when it is your turn and go and fetch the cat then, so particularly sensitive kitties don’t have to endure the waiting room.
Never give your animal a sedative before going to the vet. There is always the risk that it is not the right medication or that you might unintentionally give them an overdose, and medication can interfere with test results if the vet has to take a blood test. If your cat is particularly prone to panic, speak to your vet beforehand. They can prescribe special sedatives designed especially for cats.