Many cat owners find bringing their furry companion, into the practice can be a very stressful experience! This is because cats are self sufficient survivalists, and taking them away from their home environment (which to them is their territory) is a very stressful experience for them.
Some of the nurses have recently been to a Cat Friendly talk (sponsored by the ISFM), and have picked up a few tips to help reduce the stress of the experience.
The cat basket! Unfortunately cats often build up a negative association with their basket (as it usually results in them being forcefully pushed into it for the vets or cattery), one way to avoid the basket becoming “the dreaded box of doom” is to leave it out continuously (or at least 3-4 days before vet visit!), and turn it into a positive thing. Take the door off, place in some comfortable bedding, and put it in an area low of human traffic. Ideally next to a pet remedy or Feliway diffuser. Place the evening meal inside the box, so it becomes a nice place to receive treats or food, or a convenient rest spot.
When purchasing a cat basket ensure it’s easy to open (preferably with top load entry as well as a side door), do not purchase a wicker basket or something in which the cat will have to be “dragged out”, as again this builds up a negative association.
On the way to the vets – a stressful journey to the vets often results in a stressful visit. Gently place the cat into the basket, always have newspaper or bedding in the bottom (a slippery basket floor, makes an unhappy cat!), it’s a good idea to bring some spare in case of any accidents! A toy or cuddly friend often helps with the anticipation (sprayed with some pet remedy or Feliway).
Always safely secure your cat’s basket in the car, not only will this stop the cat from sliding about, but during a cat accident it helps to save your cat's life!
Arriving at the practice, keep your cat as level in the basket as you can whilst walking, take a seat in “Cats Corner” which is the cat friendly waiting area in the reception, ask the receptionist for a cover for your basket if you feel your cat is stressed. Place your cat onto the desk or one of the “Small animal parking” stations. Do not allow dogs or other children to come running up and disturb your cat. Face your basket away from the direction of other cats, as some cats will stare and frighten each other. Try and keep as calm and positive as you can, as cats will sense anxiety around them.
When in the consult room, do not reach in and drag your cat out, as this will just upset them. The vet or nurse will open the carrier, and give your cat time to walk out or will “dissemble” the box to examine your cat. When your cat isn’t being examined allow them to walk around the room so they can explore their new environment (again keep as calm as you can as your cat will be reading your energy).
These are just a few tips to make the experience as calm and stress-free as possible, if our feline patients arrive calm it often makes the visit a more positive one for them! And of course the veterinary staff love a happy cat!! 😉