Hi my name is Leah and I am one of the feline friendly nurses at our cat only practice in Worcester. #cats@severn veterinary centre. We have so many amazing and great things in our clinic to help reduce stress in cats and also things that we don’t have are just as important… no dogs! So our cats can have a stress free visit from start to finish.
Although having cat friendly staff and a cat friendly vets as a practice, we find that the visit and stress levels of the visit all begin way before your feline friends enter the door of the vets, which is why you can help just as much on the visit to reduce stress as we can.
I am going to give some tips on how you as an owner can reduce stress in your cat on the day of their visit to the vets before you arrive. Small little changes for us can make a huge difference to cats!
Firstly one of the biggest things your cat is scared of and the main struggle for you as an owner is the dreaded cat basket! Because your cat knows where this takes them when they are in it. By the time you have struggled and fought with your cat to get them in the basket at home and they travel in the box that they dislike so much their stress levels are bound to have rocketed! So how can you help… wouldn’t it be fabulous if your cat enjoyed sitting in their basket and this was their safe place to go. You and your cat would feel so much more relaxed on the day of the visit. So…
- Keep your basket in the house as part of your cat’s furniture from day one so they get used to it daily and this isn’t just the box that comes out when it’s the vet time!
- Put their favourite treats in the basket every so often or even daily, so they relate to this being a nice and positive place to be!
- Put their blanket in the basket and spray the blanket with Feliway so they feel relaxed and calm in the basket.
Secondly your behaviour or mood will have a massive impact on your cat’s stress levels. So, remember on the day of the visit.
- Don’t be rushing. This needs to be a calm experience for the cat with plenty of time. So, make sure you have enough time to get your cat into the basket calmly. Have a nice quiet drive and don’t rush and run around with your cat in the basket.
- Try not to get stressed by the visit/experience. If you are stressed your cat will become stressed.
My next tip is on the journey to the vets. Whether that be a car journey or a walk with your cat. This can be vey stressful for some cats.
- Firstly, make sure your cat is secure in the car or on the walk in a secure cat basket so they can not run around and become lose. This is very dangerous for you and the cat.
- Try to make your appointment in quiet times of the day so you are travelling for as little as possible with your cat. For example, try not to book by school runs or rush hour.
- If your cat struggles with car sickness do not feed 4-5 hours before a visit to reduce the likelihood of vomiting.
- If you have more than one cat make sure you provide them with separate cat baskets. Even if your cats get on with each other this can be stressful being in such a small area with each other.
- Spray the cat carrier with Feliway 15 minutes before you are due to leave to help relax them during the journey.
- Drape a towel (sprayed with feliway) over the basket to help keep your cat feeling hidden during a stressful time. (Cats like to hide!)
- When lifting the cat carrier try and keep it steady and stable. Use both hands so the basket isn’t tilted at any time.
- Use the seatbelt to secure the carrier to the seat. Thread the seatbelt through the handle of the carrier. Also ensure the carrier is not tilted. Using a towel underneath the basket to keep it flat works well.
- Drive as smoothly as possible trying to avoid any sudden stops.
- Gentle and quiet music can be on but should not be too loud.
Choosing the correct basket is also essential when trying to avoid stress for your cat.
- Cats like to hide so having a carrier that is covered so they can only see out of the front of the carrier will make your cat feel safer. If you do not have this type of cat carrier using a towel draped over the carrier and spraying it will Feliway would also work.
- The carrier should have a sturdy bottom. Again, this will help your cat feel more relaxed and feel safer.
- The carrier should be easy to open up so when they need to be examined by the vet we can get to them easily and your cat can remain sat in the base of their carrier where they feel more comfortable to begin.
- It should be easy to clean and be lined with an absorbable material in the event of travel sickness.
- Bring a toy or blanket that smells like home in their basket to help them feel more relaxed in their environment.
And finally, once you arrive at the practice depending on how fortunate you are with the waiting room at your veterinary practice you could make precautions to ensure your cat doesn’t become too stressed when waiting with other animals in the waiting area.
- Keeping your cat in the car until the vet calls you in for the appointment is a good way of keeping your cat calm whilst waiting for the appointment if they are going to be sitting with other dogs and cats.
- If you do take your cat in to the waiting area and there are both dogs and cats in the waiting room, you should make sure their cat carrier is kept high up and not placed on the floor where dogs can go up to the carrier. (this is very scary for cats!)
- Keeping a towel covering them up and talking softly to them.
- Trying to sit in a quieter section of the waiting area with low traffic flow will also help.