Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Are My Options For Getting My Difficult Cat a Check Up? Part 2

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

What makes a cat appointment at the vet so difficult?
Some cat owners may dread what happens when they arrive at the veterinarian's office.  Loud noises like barking dogs may scare their cat in the lobby.  The cat may be huddling in the corner of the carrier or meowing in protest.  There may be a delay between arrival and being placed in a quiet exam room.  We know it is important for our cats to have an annual exam so how can we make this easier for our cats? Here's a list of potential challenges and their possible solutions:

1. Problem:  Loud noises/voices
Solution:  Avoid noisier times by asking for the first appointment of morning or afternoon, or ask the staff when a quieter time occurs.  Some offices may offer special "cat only" hours in their schedule.

2. Problem:  Long wait in carrier in lobby or exam room
Solution:  Avoid busy times by asking for the first appointment of morning or afternoon, or ask the staff when a slower time of day occurs.

3. Problem:  Difficult to get cat out of carrier
Solution:  Small carriers or soft, mesh carriers can be tricky for cat removal.  Larger plastic carriers with easily removed top portions of the carrier are ideal.  Cats feel safer in partially enclosed spaces, resembling boxes.  This avoids the need to dump the cat out of the carrier. 

4. Problem:  Rough handling by pet parent or veterinary staff
Solution:  In an attempt to speed things along, either due to trying the limit the amount of time the cat is at the vet or due to other time restraints, sometimes we can all be guilty of forgetting to be slow, gentle, and quiet during the entire appointment.  This includes when we get the cat out of the carrier.

5. Problem:  Despite following the above steps, cat is still grumpy/aggressive
Solution: Using feline pheromones in the exam room in the form of a spray or plug in can help.  Keeping the cat in the bottom half of the carrier for the exam and using a towel for the cat to hide can decrease stress levels.  Despite these efforts, some cats may try to scratch or bite.  In these cases, the cat may be best handled after giving a tranquilizer.  Your veterinarian may prescribe a medication to be given before future appointments. 

Other Considerations:

1. Cat only clinics: Most towns have one or two clinics that specialize in just cats.  This is an easy way to avoid the noise of dog's barking and the smell of non feline creatures.  All of the staff can be specially trained to cater to cats.

2. Housecall by regular vet or by Mobile vet: Sometimes it may just be easier to not have to get the cat in a carrier and take it into the veterinary office for exams, etc.  You can ask your regular vet if they make housecalls or know of any mobile vets that they recommend.  Some drawbacks are that the vet may not have an assistant to help, there may be no x-ray option, and there may be limited surgery potential.

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