We love cats. Cats are fascinating, funny, curious and clever. Did you know that our cats are now comfortably living 18, 19, 20 years, especially our indoor only cats? But did you also know that cats are considered “the forgotten pet” because, despite being more popular than dogs in the US as house-pets, they visit vets only 30% of the time, compared to our canine companions.
Why don’t our kitties visit us? Well…think about this scenerio. You are having a lovely afternoon nap in your favorite sunbeam. Next thing you know, you are picked up, shoved into a small, dark container, which is then picked up, jostled around (and maybe even at this point you are a bit naseous) and then you are unceramoniously dumped onto a cold metal table. Once in this cold table, you realize that there are strangers in the room and you are promptly restrained, poked/prodded and otherwise groped…. only to be then shoved back into that small, dark carrier that now smells like some combination of you being scared and a new scary place. Doesn’t this all sound a bit like an alien abduction?! No wonder cats don’t like going to the vet!
Now..there are lots of things we can do to minimize the “abduction” feeling that our poor feline friends go through when they come to visit the vet.
First, leave the carrier out somewhere that it can be used as a bed or hiding place. Yes, your cat KNOWS when you make the vet appointment…and yes, your cat KNOWS what that carrier means…let’s work on making it less threatening to them!
Secondly, obtain some Feliway from Woodlake Animal Hospital- Feliway is “momma cat pheromones” and is an anti-anxiety diffuser. These pheromones help to calm cats (and we have a version for dogs, too) and help minimize the anxiety associated with the use of the carrier and the trip to the vet. We also have an herbal treat called “Composure” that also helps with anxiety and behavorial issues- used in combination, the kitties often are much happier about their trip to the clinic.
Thirdly, when arriving at the vet, always have a towel or rug on the table for the cats to sit on- the cold steel table is neither welcoming nor comfortable- the texture of the rug/towel will make your cat a bit more comfortable in the strange environment. Here at Woodlake Animal Hospital, we are finding that the cats enjoy looking out our windows and watching the squirrels and birds and chipmunks outside the exam room, and they are not bothered by being here!
If you can, bring your pet to the vet on an empty stomach- even cats will eat treats at the clinic if they are hungry- and if they can associate the visit with pleasant experiences (yay, treats!) it will make subsequent visits less stressful on EVERYONE!
So don’t let the fear of traveling with your cat delay your next visit- remember, cats (and dogs) age more rapidly than we do, which is why every 6 month visits are strongly recommended for our pets…it allows us to catch medical changes earlier and often help to prevent disorders from developing.