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Cats Vs. Vets: How to reduce the tension

Think of any occasion that comes once a year. You’d think of these occasions as festive, a moment to spend and enjoy time with family and loved ones; at the very least they are moments where you show appreciation. You may like some more than others - Christmas beats Fathers Day any day of the week.


But there aren’t any that you hate, unless you are a cat owner. The annual occasion to visit the vet is the Freddy Kruger of any cat and their owner.


I took Lilo for his annual check up recently. The ordeal only lasted a day but I was preparing mentally for weeks, telling myself that this is going to happen, it is for his well-being, be strong, his cries to not go are only going to be temporary, this is for the greater good – I would repeat this to myself like a lunatic.


Many cat owners avoid taking their cat to the vet, simply because of the stress on your cat and the fight it is to just get them there. What we don’t know is that by avoiding that moment of stress and letting you cat hide under the bed, we might potentially be compromising our cat’s health.


At Inventor, we believe that a cat’s health routine should be enjoyable and hence never be compromised. So, we’ve written this article to help reduce the tension between your cat and the vet.


 

Where does this hate come from? Is it passed on through the ages?


Well cats’ memories tend to be engrained in their minds when it relates to pain or pleasure. This is very important because if environments and actions are adjusted to encourage pleasure in a cat, then that will help the transition from something they hate into something they can enjoy or at the very least tolerate.


We realised there are three problem areas with this annual veterinary ordeal:

- Taking them to the vet

- The waiting room

- With the vet


The number one reason why cats don’t go to the vet regularly is transportation, we fall at the first hurdle. This is because most cats run to the sight of the carrier that only comes out when dooms day approaches.


Our jobs as cat owners is to make their carrier turn from a beast and into beauty.

inventorcat inventor

The main way to do this is through familiarization. The carrier to most cats, is the start of losing control of their environment and actions. Something that would really stress them out. Think about it, maybe loss of control is why a lot of people don't like the dentist; we are stuck, immobile whilst the scary Dr. puts sharp thing in our mouths.

Therefore, by putting their bedding in the carrier and a piece of clothing of their favourite person, we can remove the hostile smells of the carrier and mask the unfamiliar smells they could pick up in the car or at the vets.


There are also sprays such as Feliway® that mimics the scent cats produce when they are in a comfortable environment. This will essentially make the carrier more reassuring to the cat.


Interactive play helps your cat trust their environment too. Use the Dental Wand to reduce stress-related behaviours.




Like we mentioned before, cats associate things with pain or pleasure. It is therefore important to create positive experiences with the carrier. Make the carrier part of the furniture. Whilst the carrier is in the home, play with your cat around it. If your cat goes into the carrier willingly, praise them and give them treats. Then start building it up by doing little trips but not to the vet, always constantly reassuring and giving your cat a treat.


Your cat will develop memories that the carrier is not the worst place in the world because going in it doesn’t mean their going to see the ‘bogey man’.


In the worst case scenario that you do not have this amount of time before your next vet visit, there are ways to wrap your cat in a towel, a.k.a. The Cat Burrito – God, I wish that were a superhero. There are videos on how to do this on YouTube.

inventor cat

Pro Tip: A top-opening carrier makes life so much easier. Also remember to take some spare bedding (that smells of home) in case the cat soils themselves.


 

Now that you past the first hurdle, it’s time to take your cat to the dragon’s den... I mean, the waiting room.


Ideally, you’d want to take your cat to a vet that is an accredited Cat Friendly Clinic, at the very least check that your vet separates cats and dogs.

If you are able to, avoid at all costs leaving your cat on the floor. Cats naturally feel safer at higher up places and these Cat Friendly Clinics will have shelves to place your cat securely up high whilst they’re waiting.

Pro Tip: Make sure your carrier is covered with a cloth, ideally of it smelling of home. This creates a shield for the cat and turns their carrier to a mobile hiding spot.


 

You’ve overcome all the obstacles in your way, now its time for the final boss.

inventor cat

Again, accredited Cat Friendly Clinics not only make sure that the veterinary space is suitable for cats but that the veterinary staff are gentle and respectful when handling cats.


We know that the best way to examine a cat is to use the least stressful method possible, therefore methods like ‘scruffing’ should never be used. International Cat Care explains the following:

The act of scruffing entirely removes the option of retreat and sense of control for a cat. Therefore, it serves to escalate their feeling of stress, leading to distress, anxiety and fear. When a cat is experiencing anxiety or fear and is not able to avoid or retreat from the situation, they will commonly exhibit aggressive behaviour as a last resort. Thus, the act of scruffing can actually serve to provoke or escalate defensive aggression, therefore failing to protect those handling a cat, as well as being harmful to the cat’s welfare.”


In addition, the veterinarian should be prepared to give the cat time to get used to its new surroundings, they should make sure you understand the advice given, teach you how to administer medication and if your cat needs holding get a nurse or technician to help.


Pro Tip: It helps to train your cat to be handled. Dr. Chaira Marti says, “familiarize kittens with manipulations, in a gentle, gradual and progressive way, associating any handling with positive emotions and stimuli.” Subscribe to get precise instructions.


 

You’ve finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time to go home. Your cat may be nervous or feel disorientated upon return home. Make sure you reassure them with gentle grooming and talk to them, allowing them to choose when to initiate closer contact. Feliway® for the home also helps provide this bubble of comfort for your cat.


Make sure to follow the instructions given to you by your vet, if you cat has had anesthetic, they may still be wobbly and subdued and may throw up when given food. This tends to be normal however call the clinic if you believe that you cat may not be recovering well.


Finally provide a nice, warm spot in your home for your cat to recover, with their food and water close.




This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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