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Striving for a Feline Friendly Environment
Striving for a Feline Friendly Environment
Here at Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital we strive to have a Feline Friendly environment. Here are some tips to help make a visit to the veterinarian a less stressful experience.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE…
- Using a cat carrier that has a removable or opening top may help lessen stress when it comes to placing your feline friend in its kennel. Place familiar bedding and/or toys into the carrier to make this a comfortable and safe place for your cat. Leave the carrier around the house to allow time to make this a familiar object, and not always something associated with a ride in the car or a visit to the hospital. You may also want to feed your cat in the carrier for a more positive association.Take your cat on short car rides in the carrier, getting your feline family member use to both the carrier and transportation.
- Get your cat used to the feel of procedures by gently handling their paws, ears, and mouth on a regular basis. Feel over the legs and body, and perform regular grooming. Pair this handling with positive reinforcement through food or other rewards (catnip, treats, massaging neck or chin).
- When booking your visit and when arriving, notify the veterinary team that your cat may be easily upset. This will allow them to prepare and possibly move you into an exam room upon arrival, etc.
- On the day of your visit, locate your cat well before departure. Encourage your cat to enter the cat carrier on its own. If this is not possible, put the carrier and your cat in a small room with minimal hiding places. If necessary, remove the top and place your cat in this way, instead of through the door. Again, try to have a familiar towel/blanket in the carrier with a favourite toy and even treats (if not fasting). Make sure the carrier is secure in your vehicle.
- Remain calm yourself. Reducing your fear and anxiety about the visit will help reduce these behaviours in your cat.
WHAT WE DO IN THE HOSPITAL:
- We have sectioned off a separate area of our waiting room and designated it as a feline only space. This space, although not perfect, is away from any area dogs may be sitting, and has a Feliway diffuser emitting at all times, a natural cat pheramone that helps calm anxieties.
- Prior to every appointment we spray Feliway in the exam rooms or around the treatment table if procedures are needed to be performed.
- If your carrier has a removable top, part of the exam can be done while your cat remains in the bottom half of the carrier.
- A familiar towel or blanket (hopefully already in the carrier) can be used to transport your cat and aid in swaddling to make your cat feel more secure.
- Our technicians and doctors use a calm and positive demeanor to lessen stress and anxiety.
- Our AAHA pain management protocols help monitor and treat any pain
- Medication or supplements may also be an option (before/during) the visit to lessen anxiety and stress. Ask us for more information about Feliway if your cat is very nervous.
- Ask our staff how to administer any medication that is going home. Treats where pills can be hidden inside may be an option.
- If you are bringing your cat home to other cats, be aware that your returning cat may carry unfamiliar materials (bandages) and will have unfamiliar odours. It may be helpful to use an item of clothing, like a worn shirt, and rub down your cat before exposing him/her to the others. This will transfer your familiar home scent and cover up some of the unfamiliar hospital smells.
- If you are worried about aggression from your other cats, do not encourage forced interaction or communal feeding. Instead leave your cat (still in its carrier) with the other cats and monitor for approximately 5-10 minutes. If no aggressive signs present, leave the cats in the same room together and monitor closely.
- If more aggressive behaviours do arise with your other cats upon returning home, put your cat in a safe and quiet room for 24 hours until all cats respond to food and play from both sides of the door. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
Being prepared both mentally and physically will give your cat the best chance of a positive experience during your veterinary visit. Veterinary health care is important to help ensure a long and healthy life for your pet.
The above guidelines supported by the American Animal Hospital Association, the International Society of Feline Medicine, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Reference: Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Volume 13, May 2011.