Bringing a cat to the vet can be a stressful and anxious time for both the owner and the cat. By understanding cats, there are a number of steps that can be taken to minimise this. Cats are creatures of habit and are easily stressed by unfamiliar surroundings, smells and noises. When faced with these, they have a preference to observe their surroundings from a height and feel safer when they have a place in which they can hide.
Type of carrier:
The best type of carrier is easily cleanable with solid sides, a top and front opening and can be taken apart from the middle. This allows the cat to be examined whilst still in the carrier, or to be lifted out gently rather than pulled or tipped out which will upset the cat.
It is advisable to place an absorbent pad in the bottom of any carrier to absorb liquid should any ‘accidents’ occur.
Getting a cat used to a carrier:
Cats are most comfortable around objects that they find familiar and so it is best to encourage the cat to enter the carrier voluntarily.
- Place the carrier in a room where the cat feels comfortable. Ideally it should be left there at all times, or as soon as it is known to be needed
- Put bedding or clothing that has safe, familiar smells on it into the carrier
- Spray the bedding with a pheromone spray such as Feliway (Ceva) 15-30 minutes before use
- A blanket sprayed with the pheromone spray can be placed over the carrier as well to provide a ‘hidey hole’
- Encourage the cat into the carrier by throwing a treat or toy into it
- Do not force the cat into the carrier
- If the top of the carrier can be removed, you can do this until the cat will comfortably enter
- Initially the cat may just sit close to the carrier and should be rewarded for doing this
- With patience and time most cats will eventually be comfortable entering the carrier through their own choice
Placing the cat into a carrier:
If the cat will enter the carrier willingly, then this is straight forward. However, in some instances the cat will need to be placed into the carrier by the owner.
- Put bedding or clothing that has safe, familiar smells on it into the carrier and spray it with a pheromone spray such as Feliway (Ceva)
- Put the carrier into a room with few hiding places and calmly move the cat into the room
- Try to coax the cat into the carrier with a treat or toy
- If the cat needs to be lifted into the carrier, support him/her under the front legs and around the back legs to cradle the cat
- If the carrier is top opening, the cat can then be lowered into it bottom end first
- If the carrier is front opening, the cat should be ‘reversed’ into it through the door
- If the cat is exceptionally anxious, a towel can be used to hold and cradle the cat before placing into the carrier as described
- In multi cat households, cats should be placed into separate carriers
Travelling to the vet:
- Car: Place the carrier securely in the foot well, or secured on a seat with a seatbelt. A blanket can be placed over the carrier to provide a hiding space
- Public transport: Sit in a quiet part of the bus/train and place the carrier on the seat next to you or on your lap.
- Walking: Try to choose a route that follows quieter roads and hold the carrier securely to reduce the swinging motion which will startle the cat and cause anxiety
Arriving at Maven Veterinary Care:
- At Maven Veterinary Care, we are proud to have a waiting room that is just for cats
- n arrival please place the carrier on the ‘Cat Stand’ in the waiting area, or directly into the cat waiting room whilst you notify the customer care team of your arrival
- In the waiting room please place the carrier off the floor on the seat beside you
- Blankets sprayed with a feline pheromone spray are available to place as a cover over the carrier to help keep the cat calm
By follong the advice above and acclimatising cats to their carriers over time, the experience of travelling to and visiting the vets becomes more positive and stress levels for the cat and the owner will be reduced. For more advice about bringing your cat to the vet please contact the customer care team at Maven.
Taking Your Cat Home from the Clinic:
After a stay at the clinic, you may need to take special care of your cat when they get back home:
- If it has had an anaesthetic that day, your cat may still be subdued and a little unsteady on its feet.
- Cats may be nervous and disorientated - talk and stroke them gently, allowing them to initiate closer contact when they are ready
- Try to prevent your cat licking anyt wounds or pulling at any stitches. If this happens, ask your vet about a soft collar your cat can wear temporarily.
- Call the clinic if you have any concerns such as the wound looking red or swollen, a discharge, or if you feel that your cat is not recovering well.
- Make sure any medications are given
- Pain can be difficult to recognise in cats but signs include loss of appetite, hiding or being withdrawn. Contact the clinic if you have any concerns.
- You may need to keep your cat indoors, for the first night or longer
- Provide a quiet, warm spot in the house for your cat to rest.
Re-introduction to other cats at home
- Your cat may have picked up unfamiliar scents while at the clinic, especially after an overnight stay or longer. These smells may make other cats at home anxious so it is best to re-introduce the cats gently.
- Make sure you are present to supervise when the cats are re-introduced.
- Don't overwhelm the returning cat with attention from people or pets
Feeding Your Cat
Following an operation, your cat may be reluctant to eat. To encourage them you can try
- Warm the food to body temperature if using tinned/sachet food
- Offer tasty foods, such as kitten foods
- The clinic may suggest a special diet to encourage eating and recovery. Provide small, frequent meals and remove the bowl between feeds
- Try hand-feeding your cat if needed, and gently stroke your cat
- Smearing a tiny amount of food on a paw may start them eating
- Use a shallow food bowl to avoid the cats whiskers touching the sides
- contact the clinic if your cat does not eat for more than a day or two
Remember, if there's anything you're concerned about, just contact the clinic.