Getting your cat to the vet: what is the least stressful method, for both of you?
It's always stressful for your cat when you change his routine. Cats are creatures of habit, they like to nap in the same spots, they like to sniff things and be in total control of their environment. So what can you do to make a trip to the vet safe and as stress free as possible for you and for your cat?
Use a cat carrier. As any good cat owner has discovered, cats like small secure spaces, especially when there is something unusual or frightening happening. I imagine that for most spoiled and well cared for cats, there is nothing more frightening than going for a ride on a bus or in a car. A cat carrier will offer that security better than your arms. Besides, if your cat gets really scared, you'll be scratched to shreds if you're not careful!
Getting your cat into the cat carrier might be the most frightening thing for both you and your cat, more than the vet visit. So I want to share with you some ideas for getting your cat into the carrier without any bloodshed.
1. Keep the carrier hidden until just before you have to put the cat into it. I like to hide it in the laundry room with the door closed so Neo doesn't see it. If he sees it or smells it, I won't be able to get him out from under the bed and we'll miss his appointment.
2. Get the carrier ready a few days (if you can) or hours before you have to leave so there is no last minute rustling around with your cat when he's already freaked out. Put a soft towel at the bottom of the carrier for his comfort and to absorb urine or vomit - you never know how your cat will react to being in the carrier, even if he's used to it. And wipe it down so it's not dusty or smelly from the last time you used it.
3. Make the appointment at a time when you won't be rushed to get there, if you can, but if your cat senses you are stressed or rushed, he will be even more worried about what is happening too. So try to remain calm even if you aren't.
4. What do you do about the extra legs your cat grows when you try to shove him in the carrier? You know what I mean, he's got all four paws pressed against the door of the carrier and you get his paws in one by one, but your cat pulls them out of the carrier just as fast and resists your every effort to get him in there. Or your cat seems to grow more fangs and claws and you just can't get him in.
This is why I like to keep the carrier hidden. I can pick Neo up and he thinks we are just cuddling, then I walk toward the carrier and hold his arms and legs and put him into the carrier backwards, and close the door quickly. He's never happy with me, but I talk sweetly to him and tell him what a good boy he is and use his name and...well, at least he's in the carrier and we can get going.
If this method doesn't work for you, you can try wrapping your cat in a towel and set him in the carrier, towel and all before shutting the door - you'll buy yourself a few seconds to close the door because the cat is going to need some time to get unwrapped. Don't wrap the towel around his head and don't wrap him too tightly or you'll be opening the door to unwrap him and risking an escape.
Some people leave the carrier out all the time so the cat doesn't get scared when he sees it. I have to keep it stored because I just don't have room for a carrier laying around (although I do have room for a cat to be laying around all the time...hmmm maybe I'll try this, I'll find a place to keep it out all the time)
Once he's in the carrier, keep talking nicely to him and hopefully he won't be howling too loudly when you step on the bus with a bunch of strangers! Or if you are driving, make sure you put the seat belt through the handle of the carrier like I blogged about before in Driving Miss Kitty: Restrain your cat for safety while you drive.
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