We want to provide the best possible experience for your cat (and you!) when you visit us. One thing you can do is to ensure that your cat gets to the practice in a calm state of mind. The following tips will help you prepare your pet and reduce stress.
Getting your cat into the carrier can sometimes be the biggest challenge of all! It’s important that your cat sees the carrier as a safe space, rather than only associating it with potentially unpleasant experiences. This process can begin weeks or months in advance of bringing your cat to the vet.
- Choose the correct carrier – we can advise you on options. The best carriers are those that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle.
- Weeks before the appointment put the carrier out and place food bowl beside the carrier. Over the course of a few days, gradually move the food bowl closer and closer, until it is inside the carrier.
- Put your pet’s favourite toys or bedding near or in the carrier.
- Put some of your cat’s bedding into the carrier to create a comfortable resting place.
- Spray the carrier with a suitable pheromone product* several times a day, before feeding and 15 minutes before you travel.
- If you fail to succeed with the above, start by putting the carrier in a small room with few hiding places. Bring the cat into the room and close the door. Move slowly and calmly. Do not chase the cat to get it into the carrier.
- Encourage the cat with treats to walk into the carrier.
- Speak to a member of staff about bringing in your cat during a quiet time. It may be possible to arrange an appointment when only cats are being attended to. Both our Kilmacud and Kill Lane branches have separate cat waiting areas and building work has started in Dun Laoghaire for a dedicated cat clinic.
Ensure your cat is comfortable in the carrier
- Put a blanket or towel in the carrier to pad the bottom.
- Put an extra towel in the carrier so that the cat can burrow underneath it if he/she prefers to hide.
- Place a blanket or towel over the top of the carrier.
- Carry the basket by holding it underneath; try to avoid carrying it by the handle on the top. This will help to keep it stable, reduces the chance of the carrier banging against door frames etc., and will also make your cat feel more secure.
- Make sure that the carrier is secure and kept level when placing it in your car.
Prepare the car for the journey
- Adjust the car to a comfortable temperature before travel.
- Spray the interior of the car with a suitable pheromone product 10 to 15 minutes before travel. Commercially available pheromone products can help to reduce stress. Ask us for advice about which pheromone product to use.
- Position the car as close as possible to the door of of your home to shorten the carrying journey in the cat carrier. This will also apply when you arrive at the veterinary practice.
- Ensure the transit to and from the car is as peaceful as possible. Avoid transporting the cat carrier when there are dogs in sight or barking nearby.
Bring your cat in hungry
- This helps to limit nausea in the car and also means that you may be able to use food treats, to distract your cat, during the veterinary examination.
Give yourself plenty of time
- If you’re rushing and feeling stressed, your cat will too. Drive slowly, particularly when going around corners and try to avoid sudden manoeuvres.
Returning home (for multi-cat households)
- Sometimes odours from the vet practice can be brought back by the returning cat and can result in it no longer being recognised by its comrades.
Conflict between the returning cat and its housemates can be minimised by:
- Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react.
- If all looks ok, then the returning cat may be released.
- If not, keep the cat in the carrier and separate for a minimum of 24 hours (providing feed and water in its carrier) while it regains the “smell of home”.
- Using a synthetic feline pheromone product* can help in this process.