Keeping your cat healthy is an important part of caring for them. However, the trip to the vet can be a harrowing experience for them and for you. Thankfully, we have more tools available today than we have ever had to make your cat’s visit much less stressful.
It all starts at home.
The cat’s best possible experience starts young. Coming to Livonia Veterinary Hospital at a young impressionable age and having a good experience is huge. However, even an older cat can learn to be content traveling in the carrier and going to see our vets at Livonia Veterinary Hospital.
Having your kitty feel that the carrier is a happy place will make travel safer and much less traumatic.
Here are some things you can do:
- Keep the carrier in your house in a place where your kitty has free access to it. Put a favorite blanket in the carrier and throw a few treats in the carrier every time you walk by. Your cat quickly learns that not only is it comfortable in carrier, but there might be food.
- When your kitty appears to be going in and out of the carrier happily, put a small meal in the carrier and when they goes in to eat it close the door for a minute or two. Repeat this process until your kitty is very happy sitting in the carrier with the door closed.
- When the day for the vet visit arrives, entice your kitty into the carrier with food (your cat should be pretty comfortable going into the carrier at this point). Shut the door. Cover the carrier with a blanket that has been sprayed with a calming pheromone such as Feliway™.
- Have the car ready and running so that you can put the carrier in the vehicle and go. Make sure you support the carrier by the bottom and not just by the handle on top when you carry it. Once in the car, make sure the carrier is secure. The safest space for it is on the floor between the back and front seats.
- Make sure that there is good ventilation, and that your kitty is not overly warm or cold. Try to keep the car quiet by keeping the radio or music off and limiting loud talking.
- Upon arrival at the Livonia veterinary office, bring the carrier inside (supporting it by the bottom). Keep it covered with the blanket so your cat feels safe, and the carrier will jostle as little as possible.
When At Livonia Veterinary Hospital
Our staff at Livonia Vet strive to make your kitty’s experience as fear free as possible.
- Once inside Livonia Veterinary Hospital, the operative words are quiet, calm, and covered. Keep the blanket over the carrier and sit with your kitty in a quiet spot in the waiting room.
- Quiet, calm, and covered should continue through the entire veterinary visit. The staff at Livonia Vet will likely remove the top from the carrier rather than pulling your kitty out through the door. Please make sure your carrier is one that can easily be disassembled. Rescue Remedy™, calming pheromone (Feliway™), patience, and multiple treats all help to improve your kitty’s experience. As long as everybody moves slowly, talks quietly, and offers frequent treats, most cats are compliant and accepting of the handling that happens at a visits at Livonia Vet.
- Sometimes, regardless of everyone’s best efforts, a cat remains very anxious either during the trip to the veterinary hospital or during the visit itself. Those kitties often benefit from using a mild sedative prior to the visit. Gabapentin is commonly used for this purpose, and it has been shown to be really helpful in reducing anxiety.
- This “protocol” may sound complicated, but we use it routinely at Livonia Veterinary Hospital and have much, much happier feline patients as a result.
- Come and ask our staff about the other things that we do to maximize comfort for kitties. Being cat friendly is both an art and a science and is very rewarding.