The biggest challenge at Clarksburg Animal Hospital is getting cats from Clarksburg, Germantown and Urbana to the vet. You must find your cat, catch them, wrestle them into the carrier and listen to meowing in the car and hopefully avoid injury. Sometimes cats even eliminate in the carrier. You worry if they’ll cooperate during the vet appointment and then have the same loud trip home. It is stressful for all involved!
There are ways to make the experience much better for both of you. It revolves around training and positive associations. Yes, cats can be trained! You would never expect a dog to do well without exposing them to the leash, other people or the car. Cats are no different. It’s a terrifying experience without proper training.
Dr. Greta recommends keeping a cat carrier out all the time. It’s a place for cats to sleep, eat, play or explore. Add cozy bedding, a daily treat and rotate toys in there. It becomes a safe familiar place and a home away from home rather than a warning sign. At the very least, take the carrier out 3-7 days before you need it and do the same things. Consider using a calming cat pheromone spray like Feliway in the carrier. Ideally, have a blanket or clothing item of yours in there to provide familiar and comforting smells.
When you are feeding your cat the morning of your appointment at your Clarksburg vet, lock your cat in a smaller room with less furniture so they are easier to catch without a big chase. Bathrooms work great for this. Consider feeding them regularly in that space to make it even easier. They come for breakfast and you shut the door. There is no bed or couch to hide under or behind. You could go one step further and feed them in a larger cat carrier on a regular basis.
It is also a challenge to get your cat in a carrier once they have been caught. If you hold their front feet together you can often guide them into the carrier. For the more resistant cats, you can hold their back feet together and put them in back end first. It is a little harder to resist that way. If all else fails, hold the carrier between your legs door up and drop them in hind end first. You may have to peel their front feet off the edges, but gravity is on your side!
Once you have successfully put your cat in the carrier, move the carrier carefully and hold it with both hands. It is easy to forget how easily they get shifted and thrown around as we haul the carrier around. Your cat will have a more stable and less stressful ride without tilting and banging like an old roller coaster. Place it in a secure location in the car and consider putting a shoulder belt across it. Drive more slowly and avoid abrupt turns and stops.
Get to your veterinary appointment in Clarksburg a little early. Upon arrival, ask to be placed in an exam room if you aren’t escorted there already. Cats do best with 5-10 minutes to acclimate to new smells and sounds. Keep yourself calm. Your cat senses how you are feeling and matches your emotions. Bring your cat’s favorite treats even if they may be too nervous to eat. It is another positive association and familiar smell to keep the veterinary appointment less scary.
If you have a kitten, get them used to all of these things and consider taking them on car rides regularly or into the carrier and out to the car for a few minutes. Bring some treats or toys to help them relax. Get them used to eating soft treats every day that will allow you to hide medications needed for travel or if they are sick. You will find medicating a cat much easier this way.
Even more anxious and less adaptable cats will adapt to regular exposure to travel so the process isn’t so terrifying. For the cats that still panic on the trip and at the vet, your vet in Clarksburg, Germantown or Urbana may be able to prescribe a medication (in a pill or liquid form) to relax them more for the experience.
Last but not least, choose the right veterinarian for your cat. Find one who will usher them into a room quickly, give them time to acclimate, talk to you for a few minutes before handling your cat, examine and handle your cat facing you with you in the room with the most minimal restraint needed and be willing to utilize a multitude of other techniques to lessen your cat’s stress. Every moment of the experience contributes to making it success. Dr. Greta and her team at Clarksburg Animal Hospital are a veterinary facility that does just that. We will help make cat visits more pleasant!