A recent veterinary industry study concluded that while cats significantly outnumber dogs in the United States, cats are much less likely to see their veterinarians on a regular basis. In fact, plenty of cats never see a vet unless they’re on death’s doorstep.
The number 1 reason for this canine-feline discrepancy? It comes down to a simple thing: anxiety over transportation.
Keep the carrier out. One mistake owners make is to leave a pet carrier in the garage, basement or closet. Cats thrive on consistency and the stowed-away carrier will provide a sudden array of strange new smells ensuring that kitty bolts for the wiliest hiding place when the “box” comes out. Consider purchasing a carrier that doubles as a comfy and stylish bed that you would incorporate into your daily lives. Let your cat use it as a nap space and offer treats when they are inside. You could also try occasionally incorporating it into playtime with your favorite feline friend.
Try a towel wrap. Burrito your kitty before placing her in the carrier. This nifty trick works great when you need to medicate your cat too. Plenty of YouTube videos can show you how to burrito a cat with perfect applomb.
Spritz pheromones. Certain cats respond well to relaxing pheromone sprays that you can spritz inside the carrier or diffuse in your home on the vet visit day.
Stay calm. Cats can sense your anxiety or frustration, which will cause them to become fearful or anxious. Offering plenty of love and affection before, during and after the trip may help them and you calm down. (Studies do suggest that petting and playing with pets can reduce stress levels in humans!)
Consider catnip. Some cats love it as a positive reward and as a distraction. Some felines are calmed down by a little catnip in the carrier.
Cruise Control - Some cats will never relax inside a car, but most can get used to the driving drill with a bit of practice. Start by taking short drives (a 5 minute trip around the block) and gradually increase the length of your excursions. You might try stopping by the vet for a visit even if you don't have a check-up scheduled. Also some kitties will do much better with a blanket over the carrier to feel safe and secure.
Give rewards to encourage positive behavior. Rewards can be given during training to help your cat become familiar with the type of handling that may be encountered at the veterinarian (handling paws, ears and mouth). If treats or a certain toy are highly desirable to your cat, be persistent and reward every time.
Reach for drugs — as a last resort. Sometimes it’s better than the alternative. No cat should suffer veterinary neglect from transportation issues. Ask your veterinarian what the best options are for your pet.
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