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One of the biggest barriers owners face when seeking veterinary care for their cat is transporting them. Cats have a variety of responses to going to the vet, anywhere from promptly hiding once the kennel comes out, to yowling in the carrier, to becoming fearful and aggressive. This can be traumatic to both to you and your cat, which can then prevent proper and timely medical care in the future. Here are some tips to make bringing your cat to the vet as stress free as possible:
Starting at a young age, get your kitten used to the carrier much in the same way you would get a puppy used to a crate. Keep it out in the open, put familiar blankets and bedding in there, and reward them with toys or treats for going in. By getting them familiar with their carrier at a young age and making it a positive experience, they will not be scared when they have to go in there. Even if your cat is older, it is not too late to start acclimating them to their carrier!
Use a secure, hard, plastic carrier where the top cover can be removed. Not only does this creates a safe travel environment, if they are scared and do not want to come out the lid can be removed as opposed to “dumping” them out. With this type of carrier, the vet can even perform much of the physical exam with the cat still there!
Cats are great at reading body language and detecting stress, so when it is time to pull out the dreaded carrier, keep calm and move slowly. Your anxiety and stress can may make them more anxious and fearful
Ideally your cat will walk into the carrier on their own accord. This can be done by putting the carrier in a small room with your cat and giving them plenty of time (remember, rushing it can stress them out!). Make the carrier more attractive by putting a familiar blanket or bed in the carrier, along with any toys, treats, or catnip they might like.
If your cat will not go in on their own, removed the top cover from your carrier and gently place them inside, then place the lid on top. This is much less stressful than pushing them into the deep dark cave of the carrier.
Using a pheromone spray, such as Feliway, at least 30 minutes prior to travel within the kennel can help to decrease stress.
When you arrive, if your cat is feeling anxiety please ask to be escorted into out Cat Room immediately. Once in the room you can open the kennel door and let them walk out on their own accord. If they choose to stay in, the veterinary technician and doctor will remove them from their carrier when the time is appropriate.
Hopefully with some of these tips your cat’s next visit will be as stress free as possible. If you have any additional questions or concerns about transporting your cat, please feel free to contact one of our staff prior to your appointment.