Top tips for getting your cat to the vet
By Dr. Jeremy Campbell BVSc, MANZCVS (Feline Med) RCVS Advanced Practitioner (Feline Medicine) MRCVS
Ever wondered why your cat scrapers as soon as you even think about getting the cat carrier out? They may look into your soul with those piercing, inscrutable eyes but they’re not mind readers. Instead, acutely sensitive to your smell, respiration, voice and actions they sense what your planning almost before you do and so the battle lines are drawn.
You have a formidable array of weaponry at your disposal – treats, toys, oven gloves and the cat carrier. They have claws, teeth and speed. No contest. So if you want to come out of this an unscathed winner, you’re going to need to adapt your behaviour. Their instincts have been winning battles like this for millennia.
Training and preparation for the cat carrier, like charity, begins at home and from the very beginning. As soon as you bring your kitten home in fact. We love these three videos on cat carrier training produced by International Cat Care – a fantastic charitable organisation involved in improving the life and health of all cats in this country and abroad. Look up iCatCare on youtube:
As you’ll see it all starts with patient, calm training. But whether you have a kitten or an adult cat take a look at our top tips for making your cat’s trip to see us better for you both.
- Choose the right cat carrier. We recommend a carrier which your cat can comfortably turn around inside and lie down and is easily cleaned. The perfect carrier is one that opens from both the top and front and can be taken apart in the middle. This makes it easier to examine nervous or injured patients as it allows them to relax in the bottom half of the carrier throughout. Avoid buying carriers that are too small, too flimsy and only open from the front because these can cause difficulties if your cat is not in the mood to be social. That said, we would always work with your cat and would never tip or pull your cat out of the carrier.
- Get your cat used to the carrier from an early age so they associate it not just with a trip to the vet but with everyday life. Leave it out in the open and put it in a place they like to go to.
- Encourage them to go into the carrier every day by putting their favourite toys in there.
- Reward them for going into the carrier by giving them their preferred treats. Remember, like us humans, cats respond well to positive reinforcement. They don’t respond well to punishment or force.
- When you’re training your cat to enter the carrier, remember to stay really calm. Cats are smart and they can pick up on anxiety and frustration.
- Once your cat is familiar with the carrier, progress to getting them used to being in it with the door closed. At first, do this for just a few seconds, rewarding them with a treat. Gradually build up the time.
- If you travel to the vet by car, get your cat familiar with being in it first. Then do some short car rides, again rewarding them with treats. This will make a car trip to the vet much easier when the time comes. In the car, remember to strap the carrier with a seatbelt to reduce movement. Some nervous cats also respond well to having a towel put over the carrier, others like to see out – experiment with your cat they are all different!
- Choose one carrier for all your needs. If you make use of the pet passport scheme for example and might want to transport pets commercially, then you will need to buy a more robust IATA approved container.
- If your cat is injured or is just seriously unwilling but you need to come and see us, we suggest you put the carrier in a small room, put blankets in it and spray with Feliwayâ Not in your cat’s eye-line or earshot – as it sounds like a cat hissing and can make them more upset. Bring your cat to the room and gently coax it into the carrier with treats and toys. If they still don’t go in, gently cradle your cat and lower them into the carrier. An alternative for very unwilling cats is to place the carrier on a table with the front very slightly over the table edge and gently funnel them in. Cats usually prefer the safety of the container rather than face the drop below.
There is also a further post on this here on Katzenworld.
Basically, put yourself in their shoes (or at least their furry feet). They’ll pick up on anything that stresses you and it will stress them in return and the whole negative cycle perpetuates. Take your time and start planning and thinking about it early and Mr. Tibbs will take trips to Vetland in his stride in no time.
Article has kindly been provided by the London Cat Clinic