It’s that time of the year again, bringing in your beloved feline companion for his or her annual wellness exam. Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian’s office, and their dislike starts with the difficulty of getting them into the carrier at home. For many owners, this elicits a feeling of stress and can be more stressful than the actual appointment! Many of us are all too familiar with this routine. You’ll bring out the carrier and your furry friend will turn around and run in the opposite direction. Soon you find yourself chasing them around the house trying to catch your cat to put them into the carrier. This ordeal can be very stressful for both yourself and the cat. If this step can be made easier, the entire veterinary visit can be less stressful.
Understanding Cat Behavior
Cats prefer a consistent daily routine and going to the veterinary office disrupts this routine. They are most comfortable with the familiar and need time to adjust to things that are unfamiliar. Cats do not learn from punishment or force, and they can sense our anxiety and frustrations. It is important to remain calm and patient with them.
Choosing The Right Carrier
Of additional importance is your cat being safely transported to the veterinary office. A carrier facilitates this process. A carrier also helps the veterinarian team work safely with the cat during the appointment. Remember to choose one that will be easy for you to carry.
An ideal carrier should have:
- Hard-sides that are sturdy and stable
- Open from both the top and front
- Can be taken apart in the middle.
An easily removable top allows a fearful or anxious cat to say in the bottom half of the carrier for exams.
Acclimating Your Cat to the Carrier
Usually cats only see the carrier once or twice a year when they go the veterinarian’s office, so they learn to associate the carrier with stressful situations. It is important to change this association by creating positive experiences with the carrier. Remember, it will take time for them to trust and become comfortable, so it is important to remain patient during this period.
Here are a few steps you can take at home to help:
- Leave the carrier in a familiar place at home by having it where your cat spends a majority of their time
- Keep the carrier out at all times
- Put his or her favorite toys, soft bedding, and treats inside the carrier
- Reward your kitty for sitting calmly near or in its carrier with treats, play, or affection.
Getting Your Cat Ready to Go to the Vet’s Office
If your cat is already in the carrier – great!
If not, move the carrier into a small room with few hiding places. Spray some Feliway (a synthetic feline pheromone) inside the carrier 30mins prior to transport to help calm the cat. Move the cat into the room and close the door. If the cat does not walk into the carrier, do not chase them into the carrier. Instead, open the top of the carrier and place your kitty in the bottom.