Tips For Making Short Trips To the Vet and Around Town with Your Cat Less Traumatic
Taking our kitties on short trips, either back and forth to the vet clinic, or just to Grandma’s for a day visit, can be a traumatic experience if your cat hasn’t traveled before and isn’t used to riding in a carrier. You will need to start preparing for the trip at least four or five days in advance to allow your cat to become acclimated to her crate, and to prepare both you and her for the jaunt.
Crate Training for Kitties
The best way to get your cat used to her crate is also the easiest.
Place her kennel in the room where she sleeps, or where she spends the most time during the day. Open the door, or completely remove it, so that she can see into the crate, sniff and explore. Set her favorite blanket or kitty bed in the crate and then walk away. Leave her alone to walk around it, look at it, and go inside when she’s ready. Cats love to hide in small, enclosed spaces, so at some point she will walk into the crate on her own.
Keep the crate out where she can see it until she’s walking in of her own free will, then either replace the door, or close it when she’s inside. By then, your kitty should be totally unafraid and willing to stay on her bed. If she appears a little anxious, sit in front of the crate and talk soothingly to her until she relaxes. She can’t be pushed into going into the crate without traumatizing her, so practicing patience is a necessary component in this part of her training.
You can also use this technique with any outside cat, unless the animal is feral, in which case, you may need to borrow a humane trap from your vet to get her to the clinic.
For Short Trips
Make sure your carrier is large enough to fit your cat, and any bedding or blanket you wish to take with you. Before you leave with your cat in the carrier, lay old newspapers under the kitty bed to catch any messes. If you know your cat gets nervous in the car and is prone to bouts of carsickness or diarrhea, you may want to position a small litter box in the crate with her. A box top lined with foil, or an aluminum pie tin found at the grocery store will suffice for short trips.
At the Vet Clinic
Once you get to the veterinary clinic, you may have to wait to see your veterinarian. Leave your kitty in her kennel, both for her safety and your own. Waiting rooms can often be chaotic, and you don’t want her becoming entangled with any loose dogs that may be about. Also, cats feel safer and less nervous inside their crates.
Inside the examination room, your veterinarian and a veterinary technician are typically in charge of your kitty. If blood, urine, or feces need to be examined, the tech will probably take your cat still in her crate into another room to get samples.
Because the crate is the safest way to transport your cat from room to room, she may be taken out and put back in it several times during your visit. Veterinarians and technicians are trained in handling and restraining cats in this manner, so you need to allow them to do their jobs without interfering.
After the examination is completed, allow your vet or technician to place your cat back into her kennel. If she is reluctant to go in on her own, they can stand the kennel on end and gently drop her in. Another method to use is to break the kennel down into its two halves, place your kitty in the bottom half, then close the top half on top of her, replacing the clasps.
Tips at the Veterinary Clinic
- If you’re seeing a new veterinarian for the first time, make sure and take all your cat’s medical records from your old vet with you. This gives the new doctor an idea of any issues with your pet, and means the staff won’t have to call the old clinic and ask for a record transfer.
- Make note of any recent behavioral changes before your next clinic visit. A cat that suddenly becomes lethargic, urinates inappropriately, or begins drinking or eating more than normal is showing signs of some kind of disease process that needs to be looked at and treated.
- Always transport your kitty in a cat carrier when going back and forth to the vet. A loose, anxious cat in the car can be a distraction when driving, and you don’t know what kind of animals will be in the clinic waiting room with you while you wait for your appointment.
- Don’t attempt to hold or restrain your cat while the veterinarian is examining her. Vets and vet techs are trained in restraining animals during any kind of clinical procedure and will not harm her. They can also protect you against getting bitten or scratched if kitty becomes overly frightened or disturbed.
- If you know the vet is going to want a feces sample for testing, save a fresh sample in a plastic bag in the refrigerator before the appointment. Get the newest sample possible – preferably one less than 4 hours old. This saves the vet or vet tech from using a probe to get the needed feces.
- For a urine sample, many vets provide plastic litter for you to use at home. Once kitty uses the box, you can draw the urine up in a plastic syringe and take the sample to the clinic for testing. Doing this at home saves your vet from using either a needle or a catheter to get a sample.
- Have your vet or vet tech show you how to give your kitty medications at home. Whether it’s a simple pill or liquid medication, or something as complicated as insulin or subcutaneous fluids, there are things you can do at home that allow you to keep your pet in a stress-free environment, plus save you money on clinic fees.
- Prior to any surgery, don’t let kitty eat solid food for at least 8 hours. She can have water, just no food. This is to prevent her aspirating any undigested food during anesthesia and suffering possible breathing complications.
At home again, set the crate in a quiet room and allow your cat to come out on her own whenever she is ready. Once she realizes she is home, safe and sound, she’ll be back to her usual feline self in no time.