Is each trip you take to the vet a dreadful struggle between you and your cat? Is getting your cat into the carrier the most difficult part? Does your feline companion fight you tooth and nail (literally) every step of the way?
Unfortunately, this is a very common problem – and one that our friends ask us about quite frequently. Did you know that 1 in 3 cat owners feel their cat is unwilling to get in a carrier?
Did you also know that 38 percent of cat owners feel anxious at the very thought of trying to get their furry friend to the vet?
The good news is there are several tips and tricks that can greatly reduce the amount of stress your cat (not to mention, you) experience on your next veterinary visit.
Is Your Carrier Cat-Friendly?
The first order of business is to make sure your pet carrier is cat-friendly. This means investing in a model with several openings, often with doors on both ends and on top.
As veterinarians, we appreciate these carriers, as well, as we’re able to remove parts to examine your cat easily.
This allows your little family member to remain comfortable with minimal movement and gives them the ability to stay within the perceived safety of the carrier.
Getting Your Cat Used to the Carrier
Now, just because your carrier is cat-friendly…doesn’t mean your cat knows that it is. It may take some time for a feline family member to get accustomed to spending time inside of its mobile home.
Be careful not to rush things. Start by leaving the points of entry open to the cat at all times and in a place where they already feel comfortable. For example, in their best sunny corner or next to their favorite scratching post.
You may want to line the inside of the carrier with soft blankets, towels, or other cozy material. Most cats are pretty fond of small, comfortable, and warm spaces, so these can really help put your furry pal’s nerves at ease.
Bonus tip: Using a sweater or fleece jacket with a familiar person’s scent on it can help your cat associate its carrier with a positive, comfortable feeling.
Treats: Use Them Wisely
Still no luck, or encountering skepticism? Consider feeding your cat near the carrier. This may take some getting used to for your creature of habit, but simply move his/her food bowl gradually closer to the crate, as necessary.
Once your cat has eaten next to the carrier consistently, try placing the bowl at the entrance of the carrier, so that your furry friend must poke its head inside.
As he/she gets more comfortable, continue to move the bowl further and further in, until going fully inside the crate is no longer foreign.
Another great technique is to reward your cat with a treat for spending time resting inside its carrier. There are many types of treats that cats find appealing, but as with humans, each one is different.
A few tempting treats we suggest are string cheese, canned tuna, low-fat cream cheese, or boiled/canned chicken or turkey. Be tactful in using this incentive by making it exclusive to carrier-related achievements.
Try Anti-Anxiety Spray for Felines
Anti-anxiety sprays, like Feliway, are synthetic copies of a feline facial pheromone that cats use to mark their territory. Many cats respond well to these sprays in nervous situations.
Feliway, in particular, is clinically proven to help reduce the stress of travel and vet exams for cats, limiting related behaviors such as:
- Excessive Meowing
This spray is odorless to humans and can be very effective with some cats in making them feel right at home. Simply spray 8-10 pumps in the cat carrier, on bedding, or in the car, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to allow the alcohol base enough time to evaporate.
The result? A cozy, satisfied kitty customer who is ready to visit his/her favorite veterinarian.
Is Your Cat Ready for a Check Up?
At DLVC, we always aim for our customers to have a carefree veterinary experience, and that’s tough if you can’t get your cat in its carrier.
We want you to know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that 52 percent of cats haven’t been examined by a vet in over a year.
Don’t allow your fuzzy companion to go without care. Pay us a visit to ensure your cat is in tip top shape using proven, stress-reducing methods.
When your pet experiences lower levels of anxiety, we can perform more thorough exams, which is crucial to catching medical conditions early on.
To schedule an appointment at Delavan Lakes Vet Clinic, please give us a call at 262.728.8622.