One of the biggest stresses in a cat’s life is the (at least) annual trip to the vet!
As a profession we have learnt a huge amount about cats and what makes them happy and what upsets them. And as a practice we have embraced this to minimise the levels of stress as much as possible.
Several of our staff have completed the Fear Free training course and we continue to expand our knowledge and practises.
Our dedicated Cat Suite is part of this commitment. A waiting room just for cats. Two consulting rooms just for cats. A full hospital suite for cats which includes a sterile ops room, a dental room, an imaging room (x-rays), and a unique kennel room with ISFM approved kennels.
So how do you prepare your cat for a trip to see us?
Choosing and Preparing a Carrier
The ideal cat carrier is top loading, with the top easily removed to leave the cat sitting in the base. Before purchase, try the carrier for ease of undoing the clips and removing the lid as well as the sound of the clips. A very stiff clip which makes a loud sound through the carrier will add to sound stress for the cat. Some carriers have extra clips at the front for security but they make it much harder to get the lid off quickly and quietly. Round wicker baskets are lovely to look at but have no alternative opening so the cat must be unceremoniously dragged out! This also happens with baskets where the clips have been replaced by more permanent fixings like screws. If you need to make repairs try to maintain the top opening capability. Cable ties are ok because they can be cut off and easily replaced, just bring spares with you!
The carrier ideally can be left open at home where your cat can get used to it, be comfortable wandering in and out of it and hopefully even sleep in it. Line it with newspaper, leave a snuggly blanket in it and transport the cat with the bedding in place.
Many cats will want to hide under the bedding when in the car and the newspaper helps to absorb any travel related toileting.
The Car Trip
We recommend the use of Feliway spray or Pet Remedy spray to reduce travel stress. They have a lot of science behind them and will help to take the edge off the anxiety of car travel.
Place the basket as low as possible in the car to minimise movement and noise. If travelling with it on the seat, fix it in place with a seat belt to prevent it rolling off.
When you arrive check in and put the carrier into the Cat Pods in the waiting area after covering it with a Feliway blanket sprayed with Feliway.
Bring your cat a bit hungry as sometimes tasty treats are a good distraction.
To minimise stress, place the cat basket on the consulting table and let the veterinary staff take the lead. We like to take the lid off and let the cat acclimatise to the room and this is a good opportunity for you to discuss why you are here and for us to get a bit of the medical history.
We don’t hold cats by their scruff at all.
After the exam the cat can be returned to the carrier (if they have even come out of it!) and the lid placed back on top.
High Stress Cats
If your cat suffers from high anxiety and reacts badly to travel or seeing the vet please talk to us first as we will do everything we can to minimise the stress for the cat. We frequently use drugs that can reduce anxiety by increasing serotonin in the brain without a physical sedative effect.
Choosing and setting up the carrier is a big feature of reducing stress.
Our separation of waiting and consulting rooms will also be a huge influence on stress during the visit.
Preparation is key so if you need any further advice please come and talk to one of our nurses before you plan your visit!