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Just like some of us visiting the doctor or dentist a trip to the vets for your cat can be a stressful experience. Cats prefer a familiar territory in which they have an awareness of their physical and social environment. This sense of control makes the cat feel comfortable and reduces their stress. If cats are forced to leave their familiar territory they likely will become stressed and respond by avoidance and hiding. This is why some cats will hold on strongly to the inside of their cat cage when the cage is opened on arrival. They may even show signs of aggression if they are highly anxious.
There are several things you can do to help reduce the stress your cat feels when it comes to the vets. Firstly, have a cat cage with a solid roof so that the cat feels secure. It can look out but not feel threatened by what is going on around it. If you do have a cage with an open top you can cover it with a small blanket or towel. Get the cat used to the cage by leaving it opened inside your house so the cat has an opportunity to get inside it without feeling anxious. You can feed the cat inside the cage or have its bed in there so it can sleep there. Using an object with the cat’s smell on it such as its bedding inside the cage or spraying the inside of the cage with the synthetic feline facial pheromone FELIWAY can make the cat less stressed. Cages that can easily be disassembled are useful as the vet often can examine the cat still sitting in the bottom section once the top part is quietly removed.
At Gordon Vets we now have separate cat and dog waiting areas with the cat area having shelving where the cat cage can be placed above the floor. Cats feel safer when they have an elevated position away from any perceived threats. We try to have separate consulting rooms for cats and dogs wherever possible and we will usually have sprayed the consulting room table with the FELIWAY spray before placing the cat on the table. We also have separated hospital areas for canine and feline patients so that the stress levels are low in the event that cats need to stay in for treatment.
In the event of your cat getting highly anxious on a trip to the vets we would recommend giving the cat some medication before the trip to reduce that anxiety. One useful medication is the over-the-counter product ZYLKENE which is a natural anti-anxiety medication for cats and dogs derived from milk. Other prescription only medications can be dispensed which will help even the most anxious furry patient. These make the journey less stressful for the cat and safer for anyone handling the cat.