Imagine you are peacefully sleeping, when out of nowhere a huge pair of hands snatches you up, and shoves you into a tiny plastic box that smells like fear. You scramble to keep your footing as the box shifts underneath your feet, and you realize in horror that you are being taken from your safe home, and placed into a giant loud machine. Your captors appear oblivious to your screams for help, your stomach is churning, and you fear you will never be heard from again.
Sound like a nightmare? It is a nightmare—your cat’s nightmare, to be precise. Unsurprisingly, 58% of cat owners say their cat hates going to the veterinary clinic, and 38% feel stressed at the thought of veterinary visits with their cat—it’s no wonder that 83% of cats visit a veterinary clinic in their first year of life, but fewer than half return for preventive care. At Liberty Veterinary Hospital, we believe that routine veterinary visits are critical for ensuring your cat’s health, and we want to help you get your pet to the clinic with minimal stress.
A successful trip to the veterinarian begins at home
Riding in the car in a cat carrier doesn’t have to be the thing of your cat’s nightmares if you follow these easy steps:
- Accustom your cat to the carrier ahead of time — Leave the carrier out with the door open for several weeks prior to the scheduled wellness visit, and put high value treats or toys inside. This allows your cat to explore the carrier at their own pace, and shows them that being inside the carrier is a rewarding, safe experience.
- Make the carrier cozy — Place a home-scented blanket in the carrier to provide physical and emotional comfort. Spray Feliway pheromones in the carrier ahead of time, to further ensure the scent messages are calming.
- Take practice trips — Once your cat happily enters the carrier, take them on a short drive around the neighborhood, and then bring them back home. This will slowly accustom them to the sensations of a car ride, and show them that not all rides end at the veterinary clinic. Cats are noise sensitive, so play the radio softly, and keep the windows closed to cut down on ambient noise. If your cat is prone to car sickness, do not feed them for several hours prior to the trip.
- Plan for a pleasant return — Provide a safe, quiet, isolated area in your home with a litter box, food, and water, where your cat can retreat should they need time to decompress from the visit. If you have other cats, monitor their reaction to the returning cat before opening the carrier door. If the cats who stayed behind seem wary or aggressive, place the returning cat in the pre-prepared safe spot, and prevent any interaction for a day or so, to allow the returning cat to smell like home again.
If these steps do not decrease your cat’s car-ride anxiety, ask our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team about medications or supplements that may help keep your cat calm and relaxed through the entire trip.
Benefits of taking your cat to the veterinarian
Overcoming the hurdle of getting your cat to our clinic affords them access to the many benefits of preventive care visits.
- Early problem detection — Because cats are solitary hunters, and both prey and predators, they are naturally inclined to hide any illness signs as long as possible. This strategy works well in the wild, but means that pet cats may not indicate a problem exists until they are extremely sick. However, our veterinary team can perform a thorough physical exam and, in some cases, blood work, as part of a wellness exam to detect organ dysfunction, heart or lung problems, abdominal masses or organ enlargement, dental disease, arthritis, or other conditions, before they cause your cat considerable damage and pain.
- Weight management — Approximately 50% of cats are obese or overweight, increasing their risk for heart, respiratory, or kidney disease, diabetes, and other health conditions. When our veterinarians see your cat regularly, they can promptly notice your cat’s increasing waistline, and work with you to create a weight-management program when your cat has only two or three pounds to lose, not 10.
- Vaccinations and parasite preventives — Our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team can administer the appropriate vaccinations for your cat’s lifestyle, to keep them healthy and safe. We can also select the parasite preventive that would best protect your kitty from intestinal parasites, heartworms, and fleas, which could lead to a myriad of problems, from severe itching or diarrhea, to death in some cases. While vaccinations and parasite preventives are available over-the-counter in pet stores, we do not recommend these products, because they are often ineffective, or downright dangerous.
Are you ready to schedule your kitty for a potentially long-overdue veterinary visit? Give us a call. Our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team would love to help your cat have low-stress access to the preventive health care they deserve.