When it comes time to take your cat to the vet, feline fanciers everywhere give a collective shudder. It’s hard to say which part of the process is more taxing; the struggle to get Fluffy into the boxy carrier, the noisy drive to the veterinarian’s office, the stressful waiting room experience, or the claw-spiked mayhem of the examination process. Not to mention your cat’s post-visit huff and retribution!
It’s no surprise, then, that one-third of pet cats in the United States did not visit the veterinarian for any reason last year. At ULVH we care deeply about all of our feline clients and want them to have access to the wellness care they deserve.
As part of our efforts to become a Fear Free veterinary practice, we have outlined some helpful tips you can use at home to help make bringing your cat to the vet a calmer, more peaceful experience for both you and kitty. We also look at some of the new breed of cat carriers that reduce the stress for kitty (and you)!
Bringing Your Cat To The Vet In A Carrier
For many cats, the carrier is a major source of fear and anxiety. Try the following help your kitty adjust to this necessary evil:
- Find the right carrier – The newer generation of carriers that open from the top, front, and side make it easier and less stressful to get kitty in and out. Some styles eliminate the battle of the carrier door altogether.
- Make it cozy – If using a more traditional carrier, leave it open in a room where your cat spends a lot of time. Fill it with cozy bedding, his or her favorite toys, or treats. Experiment with closing the carrier door once your cat has begun entering willingly.
- Use pheromones – Consider using a synthetic pheromone spray such as Feliway to help your cat to feel more comfortable inside the carrier.
- Practice makes perfect – Take kitty for short car rides in the carrier to get him or her acclimated to being in the car. Increase the duration of the drives over time until your cat is comfortable. Make your vehicle’s interior as pleasant for your cat as possible by keeping the temperature comfortable and the windows rolled up to reduce noise.
Lower-Stress Carrier Alternatives
The Cat In The Bag – Yes, you read that right. The Cat In The Bag Cozy Comfort Carrier is an alternative for cats that just can’t adjust to a traditional carrier. This soft, bag-style carrier is made of durable cloth that fits around the cat’s body, leaving an adjustable opening for his or her head to stick out.
Because kitty is not in a hard carrier, you are free to hold and comfort him or her without fear of being scratched or of your cat escaping. Openings in the rear of the bag allow your veterinarian access to your cat, while he or she remains securely in the carrier and snuggled in your lap. A convenient handle makes carrying easy and also serves as a seat belt attachment point for safe and comfortable travels in the car.
Sling Carrier – Another option that keeps your cat close to your body for comfort is a sling carrier. These inexpensive carriers allow you to carry your pet hands free.
Soft Carriers – There are a huge variety of soft-sided carriers that are less heavy and bulky than hard-sized crates, and some come with handy shoulder straps. Many cats prefer these cozier, friendlier carriers. Most models have multiple openings with a variety of zipper arrangements for convenient access. Some have an interior tether that allows you to unzip the bag while keeping your cat securely tethered (make sure the collar is secure).
One affordable, well-rated soft carrier option is this ultra light carrier that folds up flat between visits. Choose a bag that fits your needs such as this bag that attaches to your bike or one of the suitcase style that can be wheeled like carry-on luggage.
ULVH Is Here For You
Your team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is committed to supporting you in the often challenging task of bringing your cat in for medical care. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make the process easier for you!