A cat enjoying a trip to the vet? No, it’s not fantasy. It’s possible if you know the right steps to take. I outline them here for a reader.
Q: It was always a struggle to get my previous cat to the vet. Now that I have a new kitten, do you have any advice on ways to ensure that I can take him to the vet without a fight?
A: I think one of the reasons people avoid taking cats to the veterinarian is because the visit can be stressful to both cat and human. It doesn’t have to be, though. Here are some easy steps you can take to help your kitten or cat feel comfortable on the way to the clinic and during the examination.
— Accustom your kitten to a carrier. Leave the carrier sitting open in the house so your kitten can explore it, nap in it and even eat meals in it. Line it with a blanket or towel sprayed with a feline pheromone to make it welcoming, and put treats inside it as an occasional surprise. Reward your cat any time you see him inside the carrier. When your kitten does need to go for a ride in it, the experience won’t be scary. Hint to other readers: You can use the same techniques with an adult cat.
— Schedule veterinary visits at a time of day when your kitten or cat hasn’t just eaten. She’ll be less likely to suffer motion sickness and more interested in getting treats from veterinary staff. Bring a good supply of her favorite treat, whether that is a store-bought goody, deli turkey or small bits of cantaloupe — yes, some cats love the fragrant melon.
— Make the first appointment with the veterinarian a fun one. No shots, just a weigh-in and some treats and petting from the staff. Think of it as a “getting to know you” visit.
You can find more tips on making veterinary visits pleasant for cats at fearfreehappyhomes.com.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.