No More Scaredy-Cats!
At Blue Cross Animal Hospital we are embracing the Fear Free initiative and putting in place a number of changes to to make your cat’s visit more pleasant. As a pet parent, there are also several things that you can do. Because your cat’s anxiety may start to increase well before you leave your home, a Fear Free vet visit for your cat actually begins with you.
Here are some ideas that you as a cat owner can try, to help your cat be Fear Free at the vet.
Before Your Visit
The carrier is the best place to start making your cat more comfortable. There are so many to choose from. We recommend one that can be easily opened from the top or better yet have the top removed. This allows us to leave your cat in the base of the carrier for their examination if they prefer it.
Leave the carrier open and accessible in the house for a few days before a visit. Spray a towel or blanket with Feliway pheromone spray and let your cat explore, play in and sleep in the carrier. Practice closing the door and lifting the carrier until your cat is used to being in a closed carrier moving around.
Getting to the Hospital
When carrying your cat in the carrier imagine you are transporting the crown jewels. Don’t lift the carrier by the handle. Put two hands around the box and keep your cat level.Try not to jostle or jiggle the carrier while you are moving it.
Covering the carrier with a towel or blanket before leaving the house can also lessen distress.
Cats are extremely sensitive to your mood. If you are nervous about the vet visit they will pick it up in your voice and from your body language. Try to stay calm and speak normally to your cat.
Prepare your car. Make sure it is warm or cool depending on the outside temperature. Put the carrier on the floor behind the passenger seat. If it won’t fit there, roll up a towel to level one of the back seats and put the carrier on it. Secure the carrier by running the seatbelt through the handle.
At Blue Cross Animal Hospital
When you arrive at Blue Cross Animal Hospital put the carrier in the Cat Parking where your cat will be up off the floor, away from curious dogs.
If you have a nervous cat, let us know when you phone for an appointment. We will do our best to find a appointment during a quiet time so our Client Care Team can put you and your cat straight into an exam room. Sometimes we can’t manage this but we will do our best.
Don’t feed your cat before the visit and bring their favorite treats. If your cat associates the hospital with yummy treats, they are on their way to feeling good about being here, and if they are a bit hungry, they will be that much more interested in treats. We have lots of tasty things to temp them, but of course if they have dietary issues we respect them.
Be prepared for our team to stop the examination and ask to reschedule if your cat’s fear is overwhelming them. A frightened animal loses all it’s training and puts all its energy into escape. This can be dangerous for your cat and for the people around. Your cat will remember extreme fear and be that much more scared and harder to handle in future visits, so we want to stop the process before that happens. We will re-schedule and formulate a plan for the next approach.
Everyone knows someone that pops a Valium before going to the dentist. At Blue Cross Animal Hospital we are offering this approach for our anxious patients. We will prescribe Trazadone or Gabapentin. Neither of these medications will “knock the cat out”, just minimize their anxiety and make the visit go more smoothly.