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Reducing Feline Anxiety and the Dreaded Vet Visit

By Kathryn Sigvertsen BVSc

Vet visits can be the stuff of nightmares for cats, and their owners! All too often we see cats that arrive at the clinic having cried for the entire car trip, possibly soiled their cage, and that are generally very stressed. They then get examined, maybe injected, and get back into the cage for the stressful return trip home.

There are many ways to make the experience more pleasant for all parties involved. Use of a spray called Feliway helps to calm nervous cats. Feliway is a scent that cats recognise that is odourless to people and other animals. It is a replication of the facial pheromone left behind when a contented cat rubs its face around an environment it is comfortable in. Spraying Feliway in the cage at least 15 minutes before you place your cat in there for the car trip will calm your cat and make the car ride more pleasant. Placing a towel or blanket over the cage also helps them to feel secure.

When you arrive at the clinic carry the cage carefully and avoid bumping it against your legs or other objects. Place the cage up on the seat beside you in the waiting area so nosy dogs are less intimidating – cats feel safer in high places.

If your cat needs to stay in the hospital for any reason, returning home can also be a stressful time. This is especially true if there are multiple cats in the household. Removing one cat from the home reduces the competition for resources (food, water, the sunny sleeping area) and re-introducing a pet after even a short period of time increases this competition again. The returning pet may look or smell different (for example, due to bandages) or may act differently as they are recovering from a surgery or illness. Again the use of Feliway in the house makes all the cats feel more comfortable. This can be achieved with the use of Feliway spray in the commonly used areas of the house, or a plug-in diffuser to spread to a larger area.

If you have any questions about how to reduce anxiety in your cat, either at home or while travelling, please give any one of us in the clinic a call.

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