Newsletter: July 2012
Getting your cat to the Hospital
How to use a Cat Carrier
Taking your cat back and forth to the veterinarian doesn’t have to be stressful. Using your cat carrier the right way can make the trip easier for you and for your cat. The following tips from veterinarians and cat behavioral experts were adapted from American Association of Feline Practitioners’ “Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian”.
The best type of carrier, and acclimatizing your cat to accept the carrier:
The best carriers are inexpensive, hard-sided carriers that open from the top and front, and can also be taken apart in the middle. An easily removable top allows a cat that is fearful, anxious or in pain to stay in the bottom half of the carrier for exams. Your veterinarian can often do the exam in the bottom of a well-designed carrier.
To help your cat become comfortable with the carrier:
Make the carrier a familiar place at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends a lot of time.
Place familiar, soft bedding inside the carrier. Bedding or clothing with your scent can make cats feel more secure.
Place treats, catnip or toys inside the carrier to encourage the cat to enter at home.
It may take days or weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier. Remain calm and patient, and reward desired behaviors.
Getting an unwilling cat into the carrier
If your cat needs to go to the veterinarian right away and is not yet accustomed to the carrier, the following may help:
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 or toys to walk into the carrier.
If your cat will not walk into the carrier, and your carrier has an opening on the top, gently cradle your cat and lower it into the carrier. Another option is to remove the top half of your carrier while getting the cat to go into the bottom half, and then calmly replace the top.
Use familiar bedding inside the carrier. Consider use of synthetic feline facial pheromone analog spray in the carrier at least 30 minutes before transport to help calm the cat.
Carriers should be seat-belted in the car to keep your cat safer and to reduce the bumpiness of the ride.
Some cats like to see out, whereas others are less anxious when the carrier is covered with a blanket or towel.
Coming home – keeping the peace in a multi-cat household
Cats are very sensitive to smells, and unfamiliar smells can result in one cat no longer recognizing another. Aggressive behavior can occur when one cat senses another as a stranger.
Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react.
If all cats appear calm and peaceful, let the returning cat out of the carrier.
If you sense tension between the cats, or if previous homecomings have resulted in conflict, keep the cat in the carrier and take it to a separate room to avoid potential injury from an upset cat. Provide food, water and a litter box for a minimum of 24 hours while it regains the more familiar smell of home.
If there is still stress after this time, contact your veterinarian for more advice on a slower introduction process.
A synthetic feline pheromone can help provide the sense of familiarity, reducing levels of tension.
For more information, visit catvets.com