Getting to the Vet

It’s Not Always Easy!

Getting a cat into a carrier can be a challenge. But, particularly for cats, veterinary attention is best not delayed. This is particularly the case if your cat is eating less, or eating nothing, is in discomfort, or if an infection is present. Here are some hints and tips to make it easier to get your cat in a carrier.

The Cat Carrier

Nowadays, many carriers are secure and offer a number of options for getting your cat in and out. A carrier with only one small in/out door will mean you or your vet will have to tip, pull or shake your poor cat out (in the likely event that they don’t volunteer to exit!). A large door on the top of the carrier, or the ability to remove the top half of it, enable you to lift your cat out in a relatively stress-free way.

Familiarise your Cat

It’s not hard to see why cats can find a trip to the vet stressful. A scary box clatters down from the loft, your owner chases after you and drags you out from under the bed, you’re stuck in a carrier that smells odd and in a car that moves in a way that you don’t understand. When you arrive at the vet, you’re put on the floor where every passing dog shoves their nose at you…

Start at the beginning. If you have time, get your cat used to the carrier. Make the carrier a good object in your cat’s eyes. Before you need to use the carrier, put aside time to get your cat used to it. Cats find unfamiliar objects and smells intimidating. Ensure the carrier does not carry any strong or unpleasant odours; wash it if necessary. If your cat is scared of the cat carrier, do not force matters. Put the carrier in a room/place where your cat can chose whether or not he/she wants to approach it. Over time, your cat will get used to the carrier being there. Gradually move the carrier into your cat’s more favoured rooms, and start to involve the carrier in games and feeding. Remove the door if possible to ensure your cat never becomes shut in. Some cats like boxes, others hate being shut in a small space; for the latter, remove the lid if possible and do everything you can to make the carrier as open as possible.

Products such as pheromone sprays and other anxiety-reducing supplements are available, ask your vet for more advice. Put some of your cat’s own bedding inside the box. If your cat likes particular materials, such as newspaper or cardboard, put some of this in the carrier instead of bedding.

Make it Fun!

Once your cat is used to it, make the cat carrier an object of fun and enjoyment. Play games around, over and in it, and scatter food around and inside it. If your cat is still shy, leave a few biscuits inside the carrier at night and you will often find they have been eaten by morning!

Time to Go

Always always plan ahead, and leave plenty of time! Maintain your cat’s usual routine as much as possible. Plan which room you will want your cat in, ensure the carrier is in the right place, and have treats at the ready for bribery if required. Try not to use the cat’s sanctuary as the room in which you put them in the carrier, as their sanctuary should remain just this. Chose a room where there is less chance of your cat hiding in/under/on top of furniture. The longer if takes you to catch your cat and put him/her in the carrier, the more stressful it is for you both. If all else fails and it is a routine visit, sometimes it is best to postpone and rebook the appointment.

Final Tips

  • If your cat won’t go in forwards, try reversing him/her into the carrier
  • Some cats will let you scoop them up on a towel and put them into the carrier in a cosy bundle, keeping legs wrapped up safely in the towel
  • Once in the car, ensure the carrier is secured with a safety belt
  • In the waiting room, keep your cat off the floor if possible. Try to prevent your cat from seeing other animals, particularly nosy dogs (even if your cat is used to dogs, this is quite a different scenario!). If necessary put a towel over the carrier
  • In a multi-cat household, remember that a cat will smell different after a trip to the vet, so supervise re-introductions

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