Today’s guest post comes from Mike James:
Top tips to get Tiddles to the vet
A trip to the vet is an annual necessity for every cat and its owner but often this can be a stressful experience for both, even before you get anywhere near the surgery. How long will it take to get Tom into his carrier this time? Will he sense that that something is up and react by biting, scratching or leaving a dirty protest? Or will he escape through the cat flap and run for the hills, making you miss the appointment altogether?
While it’s easy to have a good laugh about it all afterwards, getting your not so purry pal to cooperate in the moment when it counts can be intensely frustrating, testing the patience of even St Gertrude, the patron saint of cats!
Why are regular vet visits important?
Any responsible cat owner will agree that regular check-ups are essential for keeping your pet healthy. In addition to assessing your cat’s body weight, behaviour, dental health and general condition, your vet can administer flea, tick and worm control medication – extremely handy if you’ve had past experience trying to give a cat a pill.
Crucially, annual cat vaccinations are important to protect your pet from serious and potentially fatal diseases including cat flu (feline herpes virus, calici virus), feline enteritis (feline parvovirus), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline chlamydophila (which causes conjunctivitis).
FeLV and FIV (the feline form of HIV) are two of the most serious and most infectious feline diseases in existence, and yet nearly 50% of cat owners don’t regularly vaccinate their cat, while a third never bother with feline vaccinations at all!
Why are cats afraid of the vet?
Of course, viewed from a feline perspective, it makes perfect sense to hate going to the vet. One moment you’re at home minding your own business as usual when suddenly they shove you in a little box, transport you in a motorised monster and take you who knows where. There are unfamiliar smells and sounds all around, sometimes even dogs nearby, and you can’t get away. It’s a scary experience.
Next comes the physical ordeal. A total stranger takes you out of the box and starts to prod and poke about everywhere and without your permission. You get pricked with a needle and disgusting tablets are forced down your throat. All the while, your human looks on compliantly.
Why would any cat ever consent to doing that again?
How to win the day
While visiting the vet can be a stressful enough experience in its own right, starting with a tussle over the cat carrier certainly won’t help. But once Tiddles has made the connection between the carrier and a trip in the car that ends at the vet clinic, he is unlikely to come willingly, quietly or indeed at all.
As we all know, cats are not clubbable, so this where our superior human brains are needed to tune into feline psychology in an effort to outwit our pets. Spoiler alert: time and patience are of the essence.
- Check you have a cat carrier that’s of the appropriate size for your cat, and made out of a sturdy material. A cardboard box won’t do – it’s not secure enough to contain a determined feline, offers no protection in case of accidents, and will get wet and soggy if peed on. Choose a big enough plastic cat carrier with a secure but easy-to-use door.
- Once you’ve booked an appointment with the vet, take the cat carrier out from storage and leave it out for at least 24 hours. Perhaps put a cat treat inside, or a favourite cat blanket so that the box has a familiar smell and is considered a ‘good place’. Cats are very sensitive to new objects in the house, so let Kitty discover it slowly. Better still, leave it out all the time so that the carrier is a familiar part of your cat’s surroundings.
- On the day, give yourself plenty of time to get your pet into the carrier. Your cat is likely to sense if you get stressed, so make every possible effort to remain relaxed. The cat flap should now be firmly locked and the door of the room that you, Tiddles and the carrier are in should be closed, so he cannot escape.
- Pick your cat up gently and put a fluffy towel around him, then gently lower him into the carrier. If your furry friend has developed a strong aversion to getting into his carrier, it may be tricky to coax him inside with soothing words and/or a cat treat. You can use a Feliway pheromone diffuser to reduce cat stress, then try again, or ask another person to hold the carrier upright while you place puss inside.
- If your cat resists, don’t force him – put the carrier away for a little while, then try again later. You might like to wrap your pet in a soft blanket or towel before swiftly placing him in the carrier, before he has a chance to notice what is happening.
- One way to help keep your cat relaxed is to cover the carrier with a towel or blanket. Leave the blanket on during transport and while you’re waiting at the vet’s. Cats like to hide when they’re scare or uncertain, and the darkness provided by the cover will make him safe and secure.
Article provided by Mike James, a tech-obsessed, cat-loving content writer