Bringing your cat to vet… Why must this be an awful ordeal? By Jodi Nantais, RVT

Or does it have to be? What your cat is like prior to going to the vet? 

There are many things owners can do make their feline friends more comfortable leaving the comforts of their home.  These easy steps make necessary trips to the veterinarian’s office much easier and maybe even enjoyable.

  • Cats should be exposed to the cat carrier early and often when they are young. Whether you obtained your cat as a kitten or as an adult having the carrier out in an area that they see frequently is ideal. Put a nice comfy blanket in it so they will be inclined to snooze in it.  Putting some treats/catnip inside to entice them is also suggested. All of these “little tricks” establish that this carrier is not scary or unfamiliar. Many owners have the cat carrier housed in a place that is not accessible to the cat. (Basement, closet, etc.). When it is brought out and a pet parent is attempting to put a cat in the carrier you can just imagine the fear that is in place!
    “You want me to go into that tiny plastic box and then you are going to take me away from here! NO THANKS!”
  • Your cat should be comfortable with being handled. Again this is an easier process if you have a kitten but it can be done at any age. Cats loved to be petted in areas around their chin, base of the tail, cheeks, etc. They are usually not fond of their bellies being rubbed or their paws being touched.  Work on getting them used to touching, rubbing the areas they do not enjoy.  This will help desensitize them.

Try this exercise when you are relaxing on the couch with your cat.  When you have them purring and content in your lap try rubbing one of the areas that you know your pet does not prefer.  If they react tell you kitty that it is okay and then go back to petting an area they do enjoy. Continue this process until you see less reaction.  In time you will see no reaction.  This exercise does take time so patience is the key. 

  • Another fun exercise is “play veterinarian” I tell clients to use the kitchen table or a counter top to perform this exercise.  Pretend you are the doctor; look into your pet’s ears, eyes, mouth, etc.  Pick up their feet and examine the pads of the foot, feel their legs, tummy, etc.  It is actually a fun game to play! Reward their good behavior with some treats and of course some LOVE!!

REMEMBER: These are all things that the veterinarian is going to do when your pet is in for their exam.  Now your cat will not be surprised or offended when someone is placing their hands all over them.  WIN WIN!

I once heard from a client: Mrs. Smith tells me, “Fluffy hates when I look in her ears so I just stop doing it”.  I conveyed to Mrs. Smith that is the opposite of what she should be doing. If she dislikes this process now when she is not in pain or feeling unwell then how terrible will the examination be when she is in pain or ill?
I am proud to say that after a few months Mrs. Smith was able to exam her cat’s ears and all other parts of her. Mrs. Smith no longer dreads when she has to bring her in for an exam.

  • Products are available to use in your home prior to the trip to the vet.  A product we commonly recommend in our hospital is Feliway. It is a manufactured product that is designed to mimic a pheromone that the cat naturally produces in there facial area. You know when you see the cat rubbing all over your leg or the furniture they are marking it with this pheromone. They like to do this to mark their territory. The areas they mark are considered as something they like, makes them feel safe and secure. This product is designed to mimic that “feeling”.  This product comes in several forms: plug in, spray and wipe.  Many owners use these products on an ongoing basis but can be used intermittently as well. This product is designed to help comfort and reassure you cat. These products can be explained in more detail by any of our Brampton animal hospital team members. This product is only available through your veterinarian.

Here at North Town Veterinary Hospital we often see cats for their kitten vaccine series and then again for their spay/neuter procedure. Unfortunately after that we do not see many of them again until there is a problem with their health. Owners are often misguided to believe that since that cat stays home or is strictly indoors that it does not need to go to the vet.  A common dialogue from owners is “I know my cat and if something arises with his/her health I will know and address it at that time” 

Cats are genetically designed to hide their illnesses until they can no longer compensate. It is not something they do to spite you; it is in their genetic make-up. In the wild animals do not show or let on if they are injured or sick, to show this could lead to a predator preying on you. Obviously predators are not present in your home but you cannot explain that to your cats DNA. Unfortunately when you pet does show signs of being ill we could possibly be dealing with some very serious health concerns.

Our feline friends not only benefit from an annual checkup with their veterinarian but these visits to the hospital can limit the likelihood of facing these challenges in the future. Please contact our Brampton veterinary clinic directly if you would like further information or guidance on this topic.

Thank you for reading! Remember, happy cat = happy life!