Bringing your cat to the vets
Bringing your cat into the vets can be a very stressful event for both you and your furry friend. There are a few ways in which the stress and anxiety experienced by your cat during a visit to the vet can be reduced, many of which can begin at home.
Before your visit
Prior planning is important in making your visit to the practice as stress free as possible, although this may not always be possible in the case of emergency appointments.
- Using your cat carrier around the home will familiarise your cat with it; for example, feeding your cat in or near the carrier, or hiding toys or treats in the basket. This way your cat doesn’t only associate the carrier with a visit to the vets!
- Choosing the right carrier is also important – it should be strong, easy to clean, and ideally top opening to allow your cat to be gently lifted in or out.
- Many cats will not like travelling in the car; the carrier can be covered with a blanket or towel (that smells of home) to keep the cat calm. Keeping the carrier secure in the foot well or on the seat will also help.
At the practice
On arrival at the practice:
- Keep your cats carrier raised off floor level, at the Clockhouse Veterinary Hospital we have a separate cat waiting area away from the sight, sound and smell of dogs. Your cat may be used to dogs at home but being around unfamiliar dogs in unfamiliar surroundings is extremely unsettling for many cats.
- We have towels sprayed with Feliway® (calming pheromone) available should you like to use them to cover the carrier. Feliway® is also good for spraying your cat’s carrier (ideally 30 minutes before using). Familiar smells will help to keep your cat calm, so try putting towels/bedding from home in your cat’s basket.
During the consultation
It is always best to let your cat come out of their basket in their own time – avoid tipping the basket if possible. If you have a basket that is top opening or can be taken apart this is preferable as it allows your cat to be removed carefully with minimal stress. Occasionally we can carry out an examination with your cat sitting in the bottom of its carrier where it feels most secure, however this may not always be possible.
Allowing your cat time to acclimatise to its surroundings is important in reducing the amount of stress experienced by your pet. Our consultations are at least 15 minutes long which allows adequate time for your cat to settle in the consulting room before the examination begins.
All of our consulting rooms have Feliway® diffusers in them to help to keep your cat calm. Our staff are trained in ‘cat-friendly’ handling guidelines set out by the International Society of Feline Medicine. ‘Cat-friendly’ handling aims to reduce unnecessary stress caused by inappropriate handling techniques. When handling cats during examinations or procedures such as blood sampling, a ‘less is more’ approach to handling is best.
Taking your cat home from the practice
If your cat has been into the practice for an operation, we would advise keeping your cat separate from any other cats in the household for 24 hours. Your cat will take 24-48 hours to fully recover from the anaesthetic so it is good idea to give them somewhere quiet and private to recover. This also allows time for the residual anaesthetic gases to dissipate – cats have a very sensitive noses and the strange smell may be stressful to the other cats in the household and may even trigger aggressive behaviours. Slow reintroduction is essential and should always be supervised. If you bring a towel from home when you collect your cat, you can use the towel to gently rub over your cat’s body – this makes your cat smell like home again and will help when reintroducing your cat to others in the house.