Reducing the stress associated with veterinary visits starts at home; getting your cat used to the carrier and the car should start early in their life. Each cat should travel to us in its own carrier; it is unsafe to allow a cat to move freely inside a car! Placing more than one cat in a carrier is not advised as redirected aggression can occur in fearful situations.
Solid sturdy carriers that open at the front and top or with easily removable tops are better to use. Soft-sided carriers can be used as long as they have adequate ventilation; but, they collapse easily, are more difficult to clean, offer minimal protection, and are often difficult to get a cat out of. The carrier should provide your cat with an enclosed, safe feeling; coated wire carriers or cage-type carriers should be covered with a towel or blanket to provide privacy. Feliway or pet remedy can be sprayed on a towel and placed in the carrier about 30 minutes before the cat is put inside.
At Vet Crèche we also cater for cats. We offer a range of services including vaccination, neutering and home visits. Our aim is to be a cat friendly clinic. We recognise that because of their unique nature and needs, taking a cat to a veterinary clinic can be very stressful, both for the cat and also the owner. We hope to address these issues by creating a more cat friendly environment and so reducing the stress for the cat, making veterinary visits easier for cat owners too! There are several ways we can do this such as having separate dog and cat waiting areas and also having separate canine and feline operating days.
Other tips that can help desensitize cats to carriers include leaving the carrier out in the home so that it is familiar, feeding your cat in or near the carrier, placing catnip or toys in the carrier, training your cat to enter the carrier on command for a reward, and acclimatising your cat to the car and carrier with occasional short trips that are not to see us! Travel should be on an empty stomach; this helps prevent motion sickness and makes your cat more interested in treats while at the practice.
Once at the clinic you and your cat will have a separate waiting area and we also operate separate appointment times and operation days for cats. Our cat-friendly waiting area is quiet with tables provided so that carriers can be placed off the floor. We aim to bring you into our examination room as soon as possible after arrival, minimising wait times to help reduce stress for both you and your cat.
Once in the examination room, we will spend time taking a history and talking with you while allowing your cat to adjust and venture out of the carrier on its own if possible. Many cats are more comfortable remaining in their carrier (with the top removed), or being examined on a lap, on the floor, on a shelf or even on the scale after being weighed. Cat-friendly exam table surfaces are made of non-slip materials, such as the rubber mat we have in ours. Where possible, we will allow your cat to remain on the towel or bedding that came with the carrier. A Feliway plug-in diffuser is placed in waiting areas, examination rooms and in areas of the clinic where your cat will be housed to release calming pheromones and reduce stress.
Respectful feline handling very important, we do not use large gloves or ‘scruff’ cats. Many anxious cats can successfully be examined with the use of a towel to cover their head; reducing the sight of unfamiliar people and places can reduce fear. We approach cats calmly and talk quietly. We avoid direct eye contact as 'staring' is considered confrontational and we use minimal restraint which is the best approach for cat handling; making use of techniques such as allowing your cat to stay in the bottom half of the carrier. We always start with the least invasive procedures and progress to those more likely to be stressful later in the appointment.
How is our practice cat friendly?
Cats are bonded to their home environment and seldom leave it by choice! Being forced into a strange environment makes a cat uncertain about its safety and causes anxiety and distress. Cats prefer to avoid danger and confrontation by running away or hiding, strategies that are not easy to employ during vet visits! Young kittens rarely experience anxiety at the vets, but it may become apparent as the cat matures. By implementing approaches to create a cat-friendly practice environment and using respectful handling techniques we hope to improve the welfare and veterinary care for the cats that we see.
Caging for cats in the clinic is separate from dogs as we have separate operation days. The cages are placed so that cats cannot see one another. The cage is made of a special plastic material that decreases sounds and maintains heat, features that are not found in metal stainless steel kennels. We place a box in the cage so your cat can hide and the cages have enough room to place the food and water as far as possible from the litter box. Feliway is sprayed on towels and bedding 30 minutes before use. Since cats evolved in desert environments, ambient temperatures somewhat above the typical human comfort zone are desirable. Warmth is provided with bedding for insulation and burrowing.
Home visits - are available at a cost of £65 for a 30-45 minute consultation in your own home. Please call 0141 370 0282 for more information.