Dr. Kari Addante of TVV Decatur reporting of Feline Vet Care Needs:
Cats are notorious for their independent and self-sufficient nature. Let’s face it, most of the time they have us convinced that we need them more than they need us. Accordingly, none of us wants to provoke the scorn and disdain of this profoundly sensitive species: they’ll make us sorry for sure. At the same time, we love our cats so much and want them to lead long happy and healthy lives. This presents a conundrum: do I take my cat to the vet when they seem just fine and it could be so stressful? The answer is an irrefutable enthusiastic, "YES your cat needs an annual exam!"
Unfortunately, studies reveal that in the United States only half as many cats receive annual exams when compared to dogs. Most people surveyed said their cat was in excellent health and had never been sick. Some thought that if their cats are indoors only they weren’t susceptible to disease. This is especially concerning because cats are masters at disguising any ailments as it is their instinct to hide vulnerability. As a result, many cats often don’t get the medical attention they need until they have advanced illness (e.g. dental, heart, kidney, thyroid disease, etc.) when this could have been prevented easily by coming for routine veterinary visits.
The key to getting your cats the care they need without the tremendous guilt that can follow just requires some thoughtful planning. It may take a few trial runs to perfect, but you can get your cat to the vet and back home with minimal stress to you both. I am speaking from firsthand experience since my cat Samantha howls, drools and soils her carrier in every way possible unless I take precautions.
Use of a cat carrier is a necessity in order to keep you and your cat safe during excursions; therefore, acclimation to the carrier is the first step. Ideally your cat is young when this process begins but almost any cat can get the hang of it with some help. You can begin by putting the carrier out in a room where your cat likes to spend time. Place treats, catnip toys and familiar soft bedding in the carrier. Cats love cozy hiding spots and you may be surprised how readily your cat takes to it. The goal here is to avoid chasing and wrestling your cat to get in the carrier.
If your cat still won’t go in the carrier willingly when the time comes, try gently lowering your cat into the carrier. Some carriers are made with a door at the top and others can be turned on their side or taken apart to allow entry from above so gravity is your friend. This is best performed behind closed doors in a room with few hiding places. Consider a different size or style of carrier based on your individual situation if you still have trouble.
Safe and sound in the cat carrier, kitty is now ready for a ride in your vehicle. Take a short trip or two around the block so your cat learns not every trip is to the vet. Keep the stereo volume low and the windows up so noise is to a minimum. The air vents can be on but carefully positioned to avoid a burst of air in your cats face (i.e. a major feline faux pas). Feliway® synthetic facial pheromone spray is a useful tool to alleviate stress and anxiety as well: spray it in the empty carrier, on bedding inside the carrier and in your vehicle at least 30 minutes prior to travel with your cat.
After getting adjusted to being in the carrier and car, which can require some test runs, most cats are ready for a full-fledged visit to the vet. Still a few cats, like my own, have some issues to overcome. If you know your cat vomits or loses bladder/bowel control at these times, plan ahead. I’d suggest withholding food for 6 hours prior to the visit and consider timing your appointment based on your cat’s usual litter box schedule to avoid accidents. Have absorbent bedding in place just in case. If your cat has intense anxiety or vomiting/drooling despite your preparations, then an oral sedative and/or dose of medication for nausea may be the answer. If your cat is a current patient at The Village Vets, then we can usually advise you on medical options to ease your cat’s travel to our office.
When your cat arrives at The Village Vets, rest assured that we are compassionate and considerate towards the special needs of cats. Your cat should remain in your cat carrier until it is time for the exam to begin: most cats prefer this and it can make the visit go much more smoothly. If your cat becomes anxious in the reception area where there can be other animals, then let our reception team know you need to be escorted to an exam room upon your arrival.
As we get to know your cat better, we can tailor the visit to minimize stress: sometimes choosing a certain time of day, specific exam room or doing things in a certain order can make a real difference in your cat’s experience. You can have confidence that we are your partners in assuring both the health AND well-being of your feline friend. Annual routine physical examination is a crucial part of maintaining good health so make sure your cat reaps the benefits that are just a visit away.