Today we’d like to provide you with some important advice on how to make trips to the vet easier on yourself and of course most importantly your feline companion.
Most cats find travelling outside their home to be a very stressful experience.
Cats aren’t stupid, they know that the cat carrier means a trip to the vet where they will very likely be poked and prodded, often when they are already feeling poorly or sore. Or it could be a trip to the cattery while you are away on holiday, either way your cat knows that the cat carrier is not a good thing. I’m sure that more than a few of you have tried getting your cat through that small opening in the cat carrier and ended up completely stressed, with a few battle wounds and a missing cat!
How to make travelling less stressful
1. If possible leave the cat carrier in your home (rather than the shed or garage) with a nice cosy bed in it. Rewarding your cat with a tasty treat when he or she chooses to go near or into the carrier , should encourage frequent use and ensure your cat doesn’t always associate it with nasty trips. It also means that your cat learns to feel safe in there.
2. Make sure the carrier is sturdy and escape proof once the door is closed. The last thing you want is a stressed cat leaping about in the car on the way to the veterinary surgery or cattery, or worse escaping while you are in a car park miles away from home.
3. Choose your carrier carefully. It is much easier to pick up a cat and pop him into the open top of a basket/carrier, rather than trying to force him through a small doorway in the front – if his feet are on the floor it is much easier to escape! If you can’t get a top opening carrier, my tip is to position the carrier so that the door is facing upwards and gently put the cat in.
4. It is always a good idea to have some sort of absorbent liner in the carrier in case your cat has an accident. Absorbent pet bedding such as Vet-Bed can be used or you could get some incontinence pads which are quite cheap to buy and easily cut to size.
5. Starting to use calming supplements a couple of days before an expected routine trip to the vet is also advisable. This will help to calm your cat prior to the stressful trip to the vet. And let’s face it, just like our feline friends we too would hate a trip to the vet! The only difference is that we (mostly) can reason that those things are necessary where as our cats simply go into their natural protection mode which usually ends in them trying to run and hide before you even manage to get them into the carrier!
One of our personal recommendations for calming our feline friends is Zylkene Calming Supplement which contains a natural ingredient derived from casein, a protein in milk. It is a molecule well known to promote the relaxation of new-borns after breastfeeding. Launched in April 2008, Zylkene has become a familiar product for veterinary surgeons, behaviourists, nurses and pet owners for use in helping pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations or before occasions such as a change in their normal environment.
Zylkene comes in both sprinkle on tablets and tasty chews. Both of these are excellent choices for cats as they are easy to give! For the sprinkle on capsules, we’d suggest mixing this into a liquid treat which means your cat is less likely to notice it. The chewy treats, on the other hand, are so tasty that all four of ours wanted them!!!
They are available in most pet shops and veterinary practices. You can find out more about stockists via the Zylkene stockist locator.
6. If you are going to be travelling a long distance with your cat, ensure that he or she has access to fresh water. For very long journeys a larger travelling crate with room for a litter tray and somewhere to hide may make for a happier kitty. You may also want to consider chatting to your vet about medication to help your cat feel calmer on the journey; as well as using Feliway, products such as Zylkene or Scullcap & Valerian may also be helpful.
How to place your cat into a front opening carrier
Turn the basket onto its end so the door is facing upwards. Have someone steady the carrier to prevent it from tipping over. Gently lower the cat into the carrier and close the door.
To avoid stress at the veterinary surgery
Put your cat in a carrier when you visit your vet because your cat will feel much more secure in there than if he or she were loose in your arms. There are cat harnesses available, but if your veterinary practice isn’t lucky enough to have a separate cat waiting area, your cat will be terrified and have nowhere to hide if a dog comes into the waiting room.
Turn your cat carrier around so that it’s door is facing a wall, chairback or yourself (obviously this doesn’t apply to top-opening carriers!). Some cats are also much happier with a towel or small blanket over the top of their carrier to give them, even more, privacy, especially if they are in a wire basket.
Try not to sit close to any dogs who might be visiting the vets. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen dogs being allowed to sniff the carrier containing a terrified kitty who cannot escape, and the dog owner saying “it’s ok, he’s good with cats” and the cat owner replying “Oh yes, it’s fine she lives with a dog” Poor cat! The same applies to other cats, it is best to face them away from each other when possible.
If you have any questions regarding travelling medications and dosage, please contact your veterinary practice for advice