Taking the Stress Out of Vet Visits
Do both you and your cat dread making trips to see your veterinarian? Do you tend to put if off to save yourself and kitty the hassle? Does your cat flee at the sight of the carrier and hide way back under the bed?
The CATalyst Council, the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association all recommend that cats should see their veterinarian at least once a year. Unfortunately, studies show that only about 28 percent of cat owners take their pet to the veterinarian that often. Among the top reasons cat owners cite for not taking their animal to the veterinarian more often is the stress it causes the animal.
“If we’re advising people to get their cats into their veterinarian more often, then we should be able to tell them how to do that properly,” says Dr. Tony Buffington, a professor at Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital and cat behavior expert. Dr. Buffington says that bright lights and noise at the veterinary office can make cats panicky, creating problems.
“The animal gets wound up and its temperature, heart rate and temperament are all un-interpretable for the veterinarian,” Dr. Buffington explains.
Dr. Diane Eigner, CATalyst chair and a feline veterinarian, says there are a number of things that cat owners can do before a veterinary visit to make the appointment less stressful and more productive.
“With a little planning and training, cats can learn how to travel comfortably and safely in a carrier,” Dr. Eigner says.
They offer cat owners the following five guidelines for lessening cat stress:
- Make your cat travel-savvy. Get your cat used to traveling. Start them at a young age for your best results.
- Make the carrier your cat’s “home away from home.” Make it a comfortable resting, feeding or play location. Keep the transport carrier out and accessible in the home, not just when you’re taking your cat somewhere.
- Let them play “peek-a-boo.” Let your cat have a hiding place in the carrier by placing a towel or blanket from your home inside the carrier, and drape another one over part of the carrier. Using a familiar blanket or towel from home can also provide your cat some comfort while at the veterinary office.
- Mix it up. Think about it – would you be happy getting in the car if every car trip meant a trip to the doctor’s office? Mix in some fun trips, or maybe a social visit to the veterinary office just to get a treat or two.
- Travel light. If you don’t feed your cat prior to travel, you’ll make it less likely to get motion sickness. Plus, if it’s a little bit hungry, your cat might be more interested in the treats your veterinarian has to offer, and it could make the visit more pleasant for your cat.
For more information about the CATalyst Council, visit http://www.catalystcouncil.org/.
(Source: CATalyst Council)
(Top left photo by Barbara Doty; right photo flickr)
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