What can be done to reduce cats’ stress during transportation to the clinic?
Making the cat carrier less scary
Leaving the cat carrier within the home environment on a permanent basis will encourage the cat to feel at ease when they are placed inside it.
If the cat carrier is left out within the home environment, the cat carrier will not only look more familiar to the cat, it will also smell more like the cats environment and therefore appear less threatening.
It can prove useful to put a favourite blanket or some treats inside the carrier, therefore encouraging a nice association with the basket.
Some owners have had good results using a product known as Feliway® when transporting their cats. Feliway® is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.
Feliway® mimics the cat’s natural facial pheromones, therefore creating a state of familiarity and security which can help the cat to feel reassured and comforted in his or her basket.
It is recommended to spray one spray in each corner of the basket, two sprays on the floor and two on the ceiling of the basket 15 minutes before placing the cat inside.
Travelling in the car
On the day of the visit to the clinic, it is helpful to place a towel smelling of home over the basket (once the cat is inside). The familiar scent of the towel will help to reassure the cat, and he or she will feel less vulnerable if they are fully or partially covered from view.
It is advised that the owner drives calmly, with as few acceleration and decelerations as is possible and safe. Owners sometimes feel that the shorter the journey the better, however driving excessively fast to facilitate this is not advised, not least for human health and safety, but cats are likely to find a short and fast car journey as stressful than a slightly longer and calmer journey.
Once in the waiting room, it is a good idea to place the cat carrier up off the floor, and to try and avoid any other animals from looking into the basket.
Contrary to some owner’s belief, cats do not appreciate their basket being placed next to other cats for company. If a towel has been brought to the veterinary surgery, it is advised to cover the cat basket with this to give the cat some privacy and reassurance.
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