Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital
Feline Behavior Part 4 - Getting Your Cat to the Vet
In the previous articles of our Feline Behavior Series we have discussed that feral cats do not rely on other cats for survival. They will do everything they can to hide injuries or illness. This makes diagnosing chronic diseases in cats more difficult, which is why preventative care is so important for providing them with longer, more comfortable lives. Most cats dislike coming to the veterinarian, which causes owners to skip the wellness exams and only bring their pet to the vet when they're overtly ill.
At WVH we are committed to making your cat's visit as stress-free as possible with feline friendly handling techniques and our new feline-only exam room. However, for many cats the stress of the vet visit starts with getting into their carrier at home. Here are some tips to help make veterinary visits easier for you and your cat:
1. Be patient, stay calm, and try to remember that cats take time to adjust to unfamiliar situations such as the carrier, car, and veterinarian's office. Cats are also very perceptive and will become scared or anxious if they sense your frustration.
2. Help your cat become comfortable with the carrier. This can be accomplished by leaving it open in a room where your cat spends time. Place soft, familiar bedding inside the carrier with treats, catnip, or toys so that they are encouraged to explore the carrier. It can take days or even weeks for your cat to become comfortable with the carrier so leave it out all the time if possible.
3. Reward positive behavior with affection, treats, or toys. Do not use punishment or force as cats do not learn from these negative tactics.
4. Using a synthetic pheromone spray (like Feliway) on a towel or blanket inside the carrier can help keep your cat calm during the trip to the veterinarian.
5. Hard-sided carriers that open from the top and front are the best options for cats. Having a carrier with an easily removable top allows a fearful cat to stay in the bottom half of the carrier for the entire veterinary exam. Choose one that is sturdy and stable for the cat but easy for you to carry. Avoid carriers that require a cat to be pulled or dumped out for an exam.
If your cat is still unwilling to enter the carrier on their own try bringing the carrier and then your cat into a small room with few hiding spaces. Take the top off the carrier and gently place your cat in the lower half. Then place the top back on the carrier and lock it shut. Keep the carrier covered with a large towel throughout the trip to the hospital because this will dampen scary sounds and make them feel more secure. Once you get into an exam room, feel free to open the carrier door but do not pressure your cat to come out. Most cats will explore new spaces in their own time but are unnecessarily stressed if forced out of their carrier.
If you would like additional information on how to make the trip to the vet less stressful for your cat please contact our office prior to your visit and a veterinarian will be able to assist you.
Feline Exam Room
We are proud to announce the addition of our cat-only exam room! This room was designed with cats in mind and is a big step toward becoming an even more cat-friendly practice. The exam room is at the far end of the building and separated from all other areas by two doors. This dampens ambient hospital noise and provides a quiet space for your kitty to explore. Many cats are attracted to the cat cubby built into the exam table. This space is covered on all but one side, allowing your cat to feel more secure while still allowing our veterinarians to examine them. Adventurous cats enjoy looking out the large windows and watching birds in the window feeder.
The cat-only exam room is also designed so that almost all procedures can be done without having to leave the room. Moving to new areas is inherently stressful for cats, so our ability to keep them in one place during their veterinary visit helps minimize anxiety. We also have a cat-only waiting area just outside the exam room, which gives owners a close and comfortable place to sit while procedures are done in the room. If necessary, this also provides a secluded alternative to waiting in our lobby so that cats can avoid encounters with other cats, human strangers, or dogs.
Has your cat had their wellness exam this year? Schedule an appointment for your feline family member and come experience our cat-only exam room!
Feline only waiting area outside the room.
A window bird feeder for enrichment and a cubby under the exam table for hiding.
Enough space so that almost all procedures can be done in the room.
Recommendations and Policy Reminders
Our veterinarians recommend keeping your dogs and outdoor cats on heartworm prevention year-round. The past two winters have been unseasonably warm and we have seen an increase in the number of heartworm positive dogs as a result. We have also seen far more flea infestations mid-winter and a huge increase in tick borne diseases in dogs. For this reason, we are also recommending that you keep your dogs and outdoor cats on flea and tick prevention throughout the winter. We carry Heartgard and Sentinel for canine heartworm prevention and Revolution for feline heartworm and flea prevention. We also stock topical Frontline Gold, oral Nexgard, and oral Bravecto for canine flea and tick prevention.
If you choose to purchase your prevention from an online source you will need to pick up a written prescription from our office. We do not work directly with online pharmacies because we cannot guarantee the quality of their products. In addition, drug companies will not cover problems caused by a medication purchased online. Online pharmacies do not receive their products directly from the manufacturers like veterinarians do and there have been instances where counterfeit medications were sold through online pharmacies. Consequently, we cannot recommend using these sources for medication or prevention.
We also want to remind everyone that we see patients by appointment only and if you are more than 10 minutes late for your appointment, you may be asked to reschedule. All of our clients' time is valuable, and this policy allows us to continue serving everyone in an efficient manner. If you are running late, please call to let us know so that we can accommodate you. We also want to reiterate that we try our best to stay on schedule. Occasionally emergencies arise that force us to run behind schedule and we appreciate your patience.