We understand that bringing your cat to the vets can be a stressful experience for both of you. The following advice can help reduce the stress to make the trip more pleasant.
Selecting a Good Cat Carrier
Carriers should be secure and easily cleaned.
Carriers that open from the top (such as plastic covered wire baskets) or have top halves that can be removed are most ideal so your cat can be easily put in and lifted out. It is stressful for your cat to be tipped out of their carrier.
Getting your Cat into the Carrier
Have the carrier out at home to give your cat the option to sleep or rest in it. You can also feed your cat in the carrier. Ensuring the carrier is not always associated with a stressful experience and is part of everyday life means your cat will be more relaxed about getting in. Ideally use the carrier at home all the time but if this is not possible, at least 4 - 5 days before if a vet visit is planned.
Ensuring the carrier smells familiar to your cat will help them be more relaxed. This can be done through putting a favourite piece of bedding or clothing that your cat uses in the carrier. You can also rub a piece of bedding or clothing around your cat’s face to pick up their scent and then rub this around the carrier and use this. Feliway spray can also be sprayed into the carrier a few hours before using it.
Take spare bedding in case your cat soils the carrier.
If you have more than one cat consider if they would prefer a separate carrier to one another, as being placed in a carrier with another cat they do not get on with is stressful. Cats that mutually groom one another or sleep touching one another likely view themselves as the same social group so would be happy in the same carrier. If not, it is best to transport them separately.
Secure your cat’s carrier in the car to stop it moving about during the journey.
Use a blanket or towel to cover the carrier during the journey and in the waiting room. This helps to keep your cat calm by giving them the ability to hide.
At the Vets
Our waiting room is divided so cats can be kept apart from dogs as much as possible while they wait.
Cats feel safer raised off the ground. Please feel free to put your cat’s carrier on the chair next to you while you are waiting. At the reception desk we don’t mind if you would prefer to put your cat on the desk.
If you feel your cat will remain calmer left in the car, please notify reception when you arrive and our vets and nurses will be happy to call you through from your car.
Staying at the Vets
If your cat needs to stay with us we encourage that they are admitted with their favourite piece of bedding or clothing. This can be kept with them through their stay so the familiar scent can help reassure them.
Let the vet or nurse that is admitting your cat know what type of food and litter they prefer so we can provide this in the hospital.
Going Home from the Vets
If your cat has stayed at the vets for the day or longer, they may smell unfamiliar to other cats in the house which can be alarming for them. Gradually re-introduce your cats to minimise the stress around this period:
Allow your cat to pick up familiar home smells again before reintroducing them. Make sure you are there when they are reintroduced. In some cases you may need to separate your cats for a few days so they can gradually get used to being back together again.
You can help get your cats used to each other again by stroking each in turn to pick up their scents and then stroking the other cat.
Wash any bedding that has come back from the hospital to get rid of unfamiliar smells.
Using Feliway spray on your cat’s bedding can be useful as this indicates to them it is a safe place, so can help relax them.
When you get your cat back home:
Give your cat space, time and a quiet environment to settle back home.
Monitor your cat for pain or discomfort which can be very subtle. Signs to monitor for include not wanting to eat, hiding, being withdrawn or sitting hunched and quiet. We always aim to ensure your cat is comfortable when discharged and sent home with adequate pain relief but requirements vary between individuals so please contact the practice if you are concerned your cat is uncomfortable.
If your cat is reluctant to eat following an anaesthetic or when recovering from an illness the following things can be tried to encourage them to eat:
Warming meals and offering smelly food such as fish or kitten food.
Offering small amounts of food little and often and taking it away after 20-30 minutes if your cat has not shown interest.
Stroking and fussing your cat while encouraging them to eat.
Hand feeding them or placing a small amount of food on their paw to lick off.
If your cat does not start to eat after 24 hours please contact the practice.