Reducing Feline Stress for Vet Visits
It is common to think that vet visits for kitties are always going to be stressful and scary, but there are things that can be done to help make these visits more comfortable for our cats. Some of these things are already done here at Murrayhill Vet Hospital, but some can be done with or by you! Take a peek through and see if you can make some of these changes:
Invest in a quality plastic carrier
Buying a well-made plastic carrier that opens from the side and the top is a great investment! The hard plastic carriers tend to be more secure and comfortable for your cat than the soft-sided ones, and opening from either the side or the top allows more access to kitty, with lower stress. The plastic carriers also allow us to just remove the top half of the carrier, giving the doctor access for exam, but leave some security and familiar smells for kitty. This type of carrier will do well for your kitty’s entire lifetime!
Keep the carrier out and well stocked with treats!
If you only pull out the carrier from the depths of the dirty garage to take your cat in for exam & needles once a year, your cat is smart enough to figure that out… Leaving the carrier out for your cat ensures they have no association to it being bad. We also suggest leaving some comfy bedding and treats/catnip in it. Allow kitty to spend happy time in the carrier, and this will further promote a happy association with the carrier.
Feliway is a pheromone spray that mimics the natural calming pheromone that cats make in their cheek scent glands. This is the scent they rub on items when happy, and it naturally helps to calm and relax over 80% of cats. This is quite helpful in the vet office, but works even better for cats that have exposure to it prior to entering the hospital. Feliway comes in a spray that you can use on the bedding in kitty’s crate prior to loading up for the vet visit, and also comes in a wall plug-in. We recommend use of the spray about 15 minutes prior to getting kitty in his/her carrier to allow the alcohol in the spray to evaporate. The wall adapter is the better choice for cats that are nervous at home as well as at the vet. It lasts approximately 4 weeks, has refills available, and has no alcohol (so they can smell it right away without in bothering them.)*Use Feliway
Bring kitty to the vet hungry
If you skip the meal prior to your kitty coming into the vet, they should find treats more exciting, happy, and relaxing. If you kitty has food available all the time, remember to pick up the food 4-6 hours before the appointment.
Speak in a quiet voice & allow kitty to explore the exam room
Cats are very sensitive to noises, so remember to speak in a calm, quiet voice to help reduce stress. It would also be best to turn down any alert tones on your cell phone while in the exam room. Once settled into the exam room, open the side carrier door, and face it away from the people in the room. We can then take a history from you while your kitty acclimates to his/her surroundings. Giving cats a 7-10 minute time frame to get used to scents, sounds, and sights of a new area can really help them feel more comfortable. You can even offer treats/catnip just outside the door of the carrier to encourage kitty to come out and look around.
Don’t be a stranger! Bring kitty for social visits
The more experiences a cat has with the clinic that are not painful or scary, the better the chance that this will be thought of as a happy place. Especially if you have a kitten or young cat, we encourage you to take your cat on outings in the carrier to the clinic, a favorite pet store, or just for a ride in the car. This will acclimate them to travel (which could come in handy later on in life if you have to move too!) Make sure to keep trips short and sweet until your kitty is comfortable in the car and at the vet!
Pet your cat with long, calming strokes in favored areas to encourage relaxation
Believe it or not, how you pet your cat can either rile them up or help to calm and reassure him/her that everything is ok. Start at favored spots like the chin, cheek, or top of head, and lightly stroke down the body slowly. Cats are very sensitive to our energy as well, so taking a deep breath and relaxing your own body can also be quite helpful for your kitty to feel better about life.