The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has established numerous pet health awareness events that encourage pet parents to visit the vet. It’s you feline friend’s turn for pet health awareness with National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day celebrated every year on August 22nd. Goodnewsforpets has put together some tips from Dr. Marty Becker’s Fear Free™ Initiative on how to make your next visit to the vet fear free for your cat.
In a 2013 survey researchers found that 52 percent of cats in the U.S. had not been taken to the veterinarian in the past year for necessary checkups. They also found that only half as many cats receive annual exams as dogs.1 Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian” developed the Fear Free™ Initiative as part of a growing and long overdue trend in the veterinary profession to minimize the fear and anxiety associated with veterinary visits for both pets and their owners.
A fear free veterinary visit for any pet starts at home, bring a calm pet to help create a calm visit. Here are some pointers to help pet parents teach fraidy cats to love their carriers:
- The optimal crate to train with is a top removal model with two exit points: one in the front, one on top.
- Place comfortable bedding inside that the cat has already used, so it feels safe and promotes relaxation.
- Keep the crate out all the time for the cat to use. It can be their safe zone. Take the door off or secure it with a tie when it’s not clipped to keep it from closing or making a loud noise if bumped.
- Get the cat inside by feeding meals inside the crate. For fearful cats, place food outside, but near the crate and bring closer to encourage them to peacefully eat near–and eventually inside—the crate.
- If comfortable, shut the door for short periods of time and reward the cat with treats, or give a long lasting stuffed food puzzle inside the carrier for them to focus on.
- Use a calming pheromone that soothes anxious cats. Spritz on the inside before the cat goes in. The effects last about five hours after spraying. Feliway has a line of pheromone solutions that create a state of familiarity and wellbeing for cats at home, while transporting the pet to the veterinary hospital, or at the clinic.
- Place the crate in a higher space, like on furniture, if your cat likes being up high rather than on the ground.
- When going to a visit, cover the carrier with a towel on the outside to keep cats from spotting scary things happening around them.
- When you move the carrier, hold it with both hands and lift the weight evenly and carefully without jostling or bumping in the way you could carry a fragile present.
For more tips on how to make veterinary visits fear free for all pets check out these tips for taking the stress and fear our of visits to the veterinary clinic from Valarie Tynes, DVM, Dipl. ACVB who is a Veterinary Services Specialist at Ceva Animal Health, a sponsor of the Fear FreeSM initiative led by Dr. Marty Becker.
1 Bayer-AAFP study breaks down why 52 percent of cat owners avoid regular vet visits
Feature photo by Lindsey Turner, used under a Creative Commons license