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Top Ten Tips for Calming Cats & Veterinarians

Keeping Cat Veterinary Visits Stress-Free – For Everyone

For some cat owners and veterinarians, cat veterinary visits should earn them hazard pay…but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some simple tips that can make the experience less like “Dirty Jobs” and more like “Dream Jobs.”

For Cat Owners:

1. Make your cat travel-savvy. Get your cat used to traveling. Start them at a young age for your best results.

2. Make the carrier your cat’s “home away from home.” Make it a comfortable resting, feeding or play location. Keep the transport carrier out and accessible in the home, not just when you’re taking your cat somewhere.

3. Let them play “peek-a-boo.” Let your cat have a hiding place in the carrier by placing a towel or blanket from your home inside the carrier, and drape another one over part of the carrier. Using a familiar blanket or towel from home can also provide your cat some comfort while at the veterinary office.

4. Mix it up. Think about it – would you be happy getting in the car if every car trip meant a trip to the doctor’s office? Mix in some fun trips, or maybe a social visit to the veterinary office just to get a treat or two.

5. Travel light. If you don’t feed your cat prior to travel, you’ll make it less likely to get motion sickness. Plus, if it’s a little bit hungry, your cat might be more interested in the treats your vet has to offer, and it could make the visit more pleasant for your cat.

For Veterinary Practices:

1. Your clinic shouldn’t be a library…or a stadium. Avoid sounds that may mimic hissing (eg, whispering) and avoid loud noises. Keep cats away from dogs and out of visual range of other cats.

2. It’s not a staring contest. Avoid making eye contact with the cat. Have the cat face the owner, avert your gaze, or blink slowly while you observe the cat.

3. No surprises. Once in the exam room, allow the cat time to adjust to the surroundings by removing the top or opening the door of the carrier. The cat should ideally remain in the bottom half of the carrier for as much of the exam as possible; this
allows it to adjust to the examiner and the environment from a familiar, “safe” place.

4. We’re not above bribery. Distract and reward cats with tasty treats,
catnip and/or play.

5. Less is more. Handle cats using minimal restraint. For more information, the AAFP offers guidelines for handling cats during veterinary examinations.
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