Pulling the Trigger on Getting Tigger to the Vet

Today is National Take Your Cat to the Vet day! In his accompanying piece, my friend and colleague Dr. Rod Van Horn gives several very compelling reasons for taking your cat to the vet —  even if she seems fine. Here, I will give you some tips and tricks make that trip a little easier and less stressful for everyone.

The main reason that a shockingly high percentage of cat owners don’t take their feline in for routine wellness care, and therefore catch conditions earlier and with a better chance of a cure, is due to the stress of the visit — for everyone.

Cats often hate the carrier, hate the ride and hate the vet’s office. This translates into stress for the owner, stress for the cat — and even stress for the vet. No one likes to try and examine a whirling ball of claws and teeth! Cat bites can be career ending if severe, so really decreasing the stress level of everyone concerned helps lots of folks beyond only the pets.

Here a few tips for making the trip in (every six months, ideally) as pleasant as it can be for man and feline:

  • The cat carrier is a big, scary thing that they’ll want to avoid the first time it’s brought out. If you have the luxury of time, bring it out a few days ahead and let them get used to it. A cat’s natural tendency to explore means they’ll give it a sniff and maybe even go inside and curl up for a nap.
  • Catnip is your friend — make the carrier even more enticing during the warm-up period by liberally sprinkling a little nip inside. Can’t hurt for the trip to the vet, too.
  • Pheromones are nature’s calming scents, emitted by special glands on a cat’s face and used by mother cats to calm her kittens. Luckily, they have been mimicked by science and you can make your cat feel calmer and comforted during a stressful event by spraying the inside of the carrier and bedding an hour or so ahead of time with pheromones for a smoother ride.
  • Coupling any potentially adverse event with a pleasant stimulus means that future events will seem less stressful. Give your cat plenty of treats, love and affection while on the trip and while waiting at the office.
  • Try a mock trip to the vet to get your cat accustomed to the carrier, car ride and the whole program. No needles and a quick turnaround will make the real thing go smoother.
  • When all else fails, look for a house-call vet. No trip to the vet means no trip stress!

It’s not hard to do and the payoff is a healthier cat — there’s no downside! With a little planning and prep work you can take the pet out of petrified and make for a happy and stress-free vet visit!



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