by Nomi Berger
There are more cats than dogs in Canadian homes and yet they visit a vet far less often than their canine counterparts.
Because our prescient pusses can sense what’s coming and both dread and detest the entire process of GETTING to the vet. Some kitties become so stressed that they vomit or defecate out of fear while others morph into hissing, spitting balls of fury.
Since annual (twice a year for seniors) wellness exams are essential for monitoring and maintaining your cat’s health, consider the following tips for making the experience as fear free and tear free as paws-ible.
(1) Bring out your cat’s carrier several days before your scheduled vet appointment so that she can get used to the sight of it. Leave the door open, thereby allowing her to enter it, explore it and exit it at her leisure.
(2) Place some of your cat’s favorite treats and/or some catnip inside the carrier to encourage her to associate the carrier with a pleasant and positive experience.
(3) Make the carrier appear less threatening and more inviting by lining it with one of her blankets topped by several of her favorite toys.
(4) Spray the interior of the carrier with a synthetic feline pheromone product reputed to decrease and even eliminate stress 30 minutes before using it, then gently put your kitty inside and softly close the door.
(5) Place the carrier in your car and practice making mock trips to the vet by driving around the block. Once … twice … Increasing your driving time as long as she seems comfortable, and stopping immediately if she shows any signs of distress. For most cats, the only time they’re crated and inside a car – a frightening experience on its own — is when they’re going to the vet, setting the stage for a stressful encounter once they arrive. This exercise will hopefully de-sensitize her, preparing her for “the real thing”, while rewarding her with an especially high value treat should help her associate the drive with something pleasurable.
(6) If none of this helps and your kitty remains stressed both by the drive to the vet and by the visit itself, ask your vet to prescribe a sedative to calm her down for any and all future visits.
(7) As a last resort, ask if your vet makes house calls. If not, ask for the name of a vet or a clinic that does. For frazzled felines who feel more confident in familiar surroundings, this may be the purr-fect solution.