Making the Visit to the Vet Easier for your Cat
As a veterinarian and cat lover it concerns me a lot that our feline friends are skipping their annual exams and wellness visits. According to the national average only 23% of cats visit the vet yearly. Annual checkups and routine health monitoring is an important part of maintaining the health and wellness of your cat. Yearly exams offer us the opportunity to identify early signs of disease. It is proven to extend the life of our companion pets, yet so few are getting it. I think part of the problem getting cats into the clinic is many cats seem to dislike the cat carrier, the travel experience, and the veterinary office. How can you make this a more pleasant experience for you and your cat?
1). Exposure: The more handling and practice your kitten receives when it is young, the less threatening regular veterinary exams will be. Daily practice! Hold you kitten, handle his feet, open his mouth, tickle his ears and praise him for calm comfortable behavior. This will go a long way to making exams just another belly rub.
2). The Carrier: Many cat owners have trouble getting their cat into the carrier. Most owners store the travel carrier in the garage or basement, out of daily view and interaction with their cats. This makes the carrier frightening, threatening, and suspicious. Instead, leave the carrier out with easy access for your cat to investigate it. Place her favorite high value treats inside or her favorite toys. Teach her to go into the carrier for a treat and close the door for a few seconds. Move the carrier around the house and make it part of her play time.
3). Anxiety: Many cats become anxious with new experiences, and since a visit to the clinic is not an everyday event, it can cause concern to many cats. Feli Away spray can help soothe your cat’s nerves. Feli Away is a feline pheromone spray which mimics the friendly happy cat pheromone. Pheromones are sensed by the cat’s organs of smell and activate the relaxation center of the brain without medications or side effects. Spray the towel or blankets in your cat’s crate 20 minutes before placing her in it. Ask our staff to use a Feli away sprayed towel on the exam table to further reassure her.
4). Use the cat entrance: Kirkwood Animal Hospital has separate entrances for our feline and canine patients. Some cats do not like the curious nature of new dogs poking their noses near their carrier while in a waiting room. Our unique reception area offers feline patients a quieter area to wait.
5). Stay Relaxed: Our pets take cues from our body language and emotional state. If you are feeling anxious or negative about your visit this may indicate a real cause for your cat to become afraid or concerned. Take a deep breath and know you brought her in because of your unwavering commitment to her health and wellbeing.
6). The Right Clinic: Choosing a cat friendly clinic can go a long way to enhancing a more positive experience for our feline friends. In addition to our divided reception area, Kirkwood Animal Hospital trains their support staff and veterinarians in cat behavior and handling. You may notice our staff speaks quieter and softer when your cat is out of her crate in the exam room. Cats prefer quiet voices and slow movements when they are unsure.
If you have questions about developing a training plan to ease your cat’s trips to the hospital, please call today and one of our veterinarians will be glad to help design solutions for you and your cat.