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    How to make a trip to the vets less stressful

    Articlegeneral cat adviceFriday 12 April 2013
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    Almost everybody who has taken a cat to the vets knows how stressful it can be. The problem starts not just at the vets, but first of all putting the cat in the carreir as well as the journey. It is not a nice experience for both your cat and you. So… let us try and give you some tips on how to make it easier for you both.
     
    The first tip is to give your own check ups to your cat even if you do not know what you are doing! It sounds strange but here is the logic; If you give your cat the run down and check it from head to toe then it will get used to the movements and what you are doing. This will give it some sort of experience so when the vet does it, it won’t seem quite such an alien experience to them.  Furthermore if you do this once a month or so it can also help you find if anything is indeed wrong with your cat by spotting early signs of trouble.
     
    The cat carrier is another problem. If you only use this to take them to the vet then they are going to associate that this cold collection of metal and plastic is similar to a cage. Therefore get your cat used to the carrier, place it in the home, put treats in there and make them feel like it is part of the house. Leave it open in the living room or kitchen so they can maybe take naps inside of it. This way they can become so used to it and when it is time to go to the vets you will find that putting them in there is no longer a struggle.
     
    The car is another problem. Like the carrier the only time a cat really goes in a car is on the way to the vets so already it has a bad association. You should therefore try to make the journey as smooth as possible. A half hour trip in a vibrating and moving vehicle could be quite a nasty experience. Again like the carrier try to get the cat used to the car. Why not do small journeys, say five minutes long around the town or maybe to a friend that your cat knows well? The moment the big day comes and the cat no longer associates the car to the vet is a very big achievement.
     
    Next comes the waiting room and this not a nice environment for a human too! If your veterinary clinic is large then you most probably have all sorts of animals in there from dogs barking, hissing cats and agitated humans. It is little wonder that cats do not enjoy the experience. Felines are usually solidarity and predatory so being in a room full of other animals will never go down well at all. The first thing you should do is leave your cat in the carrier. He will feel safer here plus also not be attacked or do the attacking. Having him on your lap in such a stressful environment is likely to be a bad idea.
     
    You should also use a carrier that is large enough for the cat to manoeuvre about in and stretch. On the carrier you can try covering the entrance with a towel that is home scented. This can help distract the cat from distractions or stimuli in the waiting room and try to make the carrier feel more like a home based setting.
     
    There is an alternative method that works with some cats but not others. This is an artificla pheromone spray that replicates the smell that cats use against each other including loved ones to increase their social bonds. Spraying it on a cat may help reduce stress whilst in the waiting room. Be careful however as stated previously, this only works for some cats. It is best to speak to a vet first of course.
     
    There are a few practical techniques like going to smaller vets and also booking a time that is not peak period so the queue is not as long and the waiting room is not as hectic.
     
    It has also been noted that cats take subliminal messages from their owners. If you are stressful then your cat may be likely to pick up on that and they will become stressful. It is therefore important that you maintain a good relationship with your vet and if you can show good energy between yourselves then your cat should be able to pick up on this. If your cat is new to the vet, it’s first time then why not ask for 5 minutes of introductions before you shoot straight into the medical exam?
     
    Sadly there is no way you can get around the inevitable. Your cat is going to be poked and prodded no matter what. You can try to make this as relaxing as possible. Talk to your cat in a friendly manner to show you are still here; also try the technique of bringing a home scented towel with you to stimulate the home environment. Maybe by bringing their favourite toy you can distract them from being poked and prodded.
     
    If your cat has to stay overnight which often happens for many procedures then this can be a daunting experience for your cat. You should aim to make this as relaxing as possible. Again bring items that are scented with the smell of your home. Talk to the staff, visit the area. All these things will help keep your own mind at ease about what is going on. It may not be worth visiting your cat during at overnight visit as this could confuse it. The cat may not understand why you came for half an hour and then left again.
     
    The vet is a place where both you and your cat do not want to go but it is one of those things that has to be done. Now, armed with the above information, you can at least try to make this trip as easy as possible.
     
    Source: Discovery
     
    Photo: Annie Mole
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