If cats or their owners find it a painful experience to go the vet, this can directly lead to a reduction in the number of times an owner takes their cat for treatment, ultimately impacting their health and wellbeing.
So, if your cat is one of those who finds it more difficult, we’ve put together our top tips to help you get them to us safely and without too much fuss. We hope you find them helpful…
Choose the right cat carrier We recommend a carrier in which your cat can comfortably turn around inside and lie down and is easily cleaned. The perfect carrier is one that opens from both the top and front and can be taken apart in the middle. This makes it easier to examine nervous or injured patients as they can relax in the bottom half of the carrier.
We like the Catit carriers. Avoid buying carriers that are too small, too flimsy and only open from the front because these can cause difficulties if your cat is not in the mood to be social. That said, we would always work with your cat and would never tip or pull your cat out of the carrier.
Get your cat used to the carrier from an early age so they associate it not just with a trip to the vet but with everyday life. Leave it out in the open and put it in a place they like to go to.
Encourage them to go into the carrier every day by putting their favourite toys in there.
Reward them for going into the carrier by giving them their preferred treats. Remember, like us humans, cats respond well to positive reinforcement. They don’t respond well to punishment or force.
Stay really calm when you’re training your cat to enter a carrier. Cats are smart and they can pick up on anxiety and frustration.
Progress to getting your cat used to being in the carrier with the door closed once they are familiar with the carrier. At first, do this for just a few seconds, rewarding them with a treat. Gradually build up the time.
If you travel to the vet by car, get your cat familiar with being in it first. Then do some short car rides, again rewarding them with treats. This will make a car trip to the vet much easier when the time comes. In the car, remember to strap the carrier with a seatbelt to reduce movement. Some nervous cats also respond well to having a towel put over the carrier, others like to see out – experiment with your cat as they are all different!
If your cat is injured or is just seriously unwilling but you need to come and see us, we suggest you put the carrier in a small room, put blankets in it and spray with Feliway®. Make sure you do this out of your cat’s line of sight or earshot – as it sounds like a cat hissing and can make them more upset. Bring your cat to the room and gently coax it into the carrier with treats and toys. If they still don’t go in, gently cradle your cat and lower them into the carrier. An alternative for very unwilling cats is to place the carrier on a table with the front very slightly over the table edge and gently funnel them in. Cats usually prefer the safety of the container rather than face the drop below.
Finally, don’t forget about the journey home. Remember that cats are very sensitive to new smells. If you live in a multi-cat household and you bring back a cat who has been to the vet, the cats who stayed at home could react badly. If you sense any tension, separate the patient with a container for 24 hours in a different room and then gradually reintroduce them back to their friends.
We love these three videos on cat carrier training produced by International Cat Care - a fantastic charitable organisation involved in improving the life and health of all cats in this country and abroad. Check out Video 1, Video 2 and Video 3.
Any problems and we’re always here to help
We’re here to give our patients the best possible care so if you’ve got any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – no problem is too small. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0203 740 1112.