Ways to Lessen your Cat’s Anxiety at the Veterinary Hospital
Any time your cat has a fearful experience, it is permanently recorded in a portion of the brain called the amygdala. The next time your cat is reminded of that experience, all the same fears and anxieties will immediately come flooding back. Think of it like PTSD in cats.
Our goal is to make sure your cat never has these negative experiences in the first place. If they already have a known fear, we want to try and teach them that it is not going to happen again. This can be accomplished by a combination of pro-active management of their environment, special handling techniques, and in some cases medication.
Most cats will develop positive associations with people and places at which they receive tasty treats. By having an empty stomach, your cat will enjoy our treat rewards even more! If they are not very food motivated, bring a favorite toy instead.
MAKE THE CAR RIDE PLEASANT
If your pet gets nauseous or scared in the car, they will already be distressed by the time they get to the hospital. In many cases we can provide medications to minimize or eliminate motion sickness and anxiety. Read additional tips on the best way to transport your cat.
ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME
Many cats become more anxious if they are rushed through an unfamiliar environment and procedures. By allowing yourself plenty of time, it allows your cat to slowly acclimate to each step.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Most cats are more comfortable in a quiet, calm environment. If there are a lot of patients in the lobby (especially dogs), please let us know if you would like a quiet area to wait with your cat.
PRACTICE HANDLING AT HOME
Part of what can make a cat uncomfortable is that it is not used to be handled so extensively. You can get your cat used to this by simulating exams at home – lift their lips to look at their teeth, look in their ears, handle their legs and feet, gently prod their abdomen, etc. With gentle repetition, it will become no big deal.
Products like Feliway™ are hormones that can have a calming effect. This can be applied in your cat’s crate prior to your visit. We sell single-use individual wipes at Four Paws if you would like to give them a try.
Cats with more severe anxiety can greatly benefit from calming medications. Sometimes these medications are given in the hospital, but they may also be given at home 1-2 hours before your visit. Please speak to one of staff directly if you think your pet may need this kind of assistance. It is much better to use these medications than to force your pet to do something upsetting by brute strength.
Hopefully by using these techniques, you and your cat will soon find a trip to the vet’s to be a breeze!