Getting Your Cat to The Veterinarian
Getting your cat to the veterinarian can seem like a hassle. Even the sight of the carrier can cause a cat to get scared and hide under the bed. Many obstacles can prevent you from taking your cat in for their yearly exam: from hiding and crying to sometimes even scratching and biting!
Fortunately, there are strategies which can make this a lot easier, because annual exams are very important for your cat! In addition to keeping your cat up to date on Vaccines, annual exams can help detect early disease states before symptoms may be noted prominently at home. In the following article, I will discuss strategies to minimize the stress associated with bringing your cat to the veterinarian.
Stress Reducing Strategies
• Leave the cat carrier out at all times, and put a few treats inside of it daily.
Many cats will associate even seeing their pet carrier with stress and anxiety. To reduce this, try leaving your carrier out at all times and putting a few treats in it once a day. Over time, your cat will stop associating the carrier with a stressful event and instead start to see it as a place of safety and comfort.
After your cat has gotten used to the carrier being around, try closing the carrier and leaving your cat inside for a few minutes. Again, over time, your cat will no longer be stressed by being placed in the carrier and even having it closed.
• Wiping the carrier with Feliway Wipes
Feliway Wipes are a product offered that contains natural pheromones that are appeasing or calming to cats. Feline pheromones have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in cats by providing calming hormonal signals. Feliway makes wipes, plug-ins, and sprays. Many veterinary offices now keep a Feliway plug-in inside their cat examination room to reduce stress for your kitty.
• Try placing blankets inside of the carrier that your cat naturally likes and lays on.
By placing familiar and comforting blanketing inside the carrier, your cat may feel more comfortable inside of the carrier.
If your cat is particularly scared or anxious on trips to the veterinarian, it may be worth considering a drug called gabapentin. While commonly used in human medicine for neuropathic pain and for the control of seizures, it has also been anecdotally shown to reduce cats’ anxiety. Gabapentin is not a true sedative and should not cause profound sedation, but it may help “take the edge” off before a stressful trip to the veterinary office.
If you think Gabapentin may be beneficial for your cat, we recommend calling our office so a member of our Veterinary Team can discuss its use with you. Please note, first-time clients will need to have the first examination before Gabapentin can be legally prescribed for future visits. Human formulations of Gabapentin should not be given to cats without first consulting with your veterinarian.
Think your cat has a hard time going to the vet? You’re not alone. Fortunately, there are strategies to reduce the anxiety some cats experience when being placed in a carrier, leaving the house, or traveling to the vet. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call one of our offices today.