Our feline friends get stressed easily and don’t usually let us know if something is wrong. Regular visits to your Veterinarian are important because cats are so good at hiding health problems. What may seem like a small change in behavior to you may actually be the start of something more serious. But how can you minimize the stress of the experience for your cat? Try practicing these simple de-stressing tips:
Before the appointment: Does your cat bolt at the sight of the pet carrier? Then it’s time to associate it with positive experiences! Leave it out in a room your cat frequents. Place a familiar blanket or clothes with your scent in the carrier, or use Feliway, a natural pheromone that can help alleviate stress. Feliway is available in a convenient spray, pre-moistened wipes, or room diffuser. You can also place treats, catnip or toys inside the carrier. Your cat will get the idea and find his or her way to this new oasis of comfort.
Handling your cat the way the vet will during the exam can also help reduce your cat’s stress. Touch the paws, ears and mouth to better prepare your feline friend. And always reward with a treat to reinforce the experience with something positive. Cats do not respond well to punishment, so avoid scolding or forcing your cat to hold still.
At the appointment: Flannery Animal Hospital has the distinction of being certified Cat Friendly by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This includes providing a “Cats Only” waiting room, which provides a calm, caring environment – one that continues in the exam room.
Your cat may still experience anxiety about being in a new place. While waiting, keep the carrier on your lap or the chair next to you with the carrier door facing towards you. Placing a towel over the carrier can also help reduce your cat’s anxiety. Once in the exam room, Flannery staff members use a slow approach during the examination, remaining conscientious to your cat’s temperament and needs.
After the appointment: If you have other cats at home, they may be keenly aware that their companion paid a visit to the veterinarian’s office. Some temporary behavior changes may result, so keep your cat in the carrier until others have a chance to see him or her. If anyone seems tense, leave the cat in the carrier and take him or her to another room before opening the door. You may need to keep them all separated for a day until everyone has adjusted. After that, everyone will be one, big, happy family again!