The Dreaded Vet Visit: Do’s and Don’ts For Your Ragdoll Kitty
Some would think that the issue of how to bring your Ragdoll kitty to the vet is no big deal – but they have probably never experienced a cat in full veterinary stress mode. Bringing your cat to the vet can be a somewhat traumatic experience for your poor pet. And if you aren’t careful with your approach to this endeavor, it can also end up being a traumatic experience for you – that is, if your cat starts acting up and making you feel awkward!
But a trip to the vet does not have to be a total nightmare. If you’ve got a good vet, you prepare well and stay attuned to your cat’s needs, you can do a lot to reduce their stress. As you prepare for a vet visit, consider some practices that should be avoided and some that could be helpful to your kitty.
While there are definitely several things pet owners can do to make their cat’s vet experience less stressful, let’s start with the most common pitfalls:
Hold your cat in your arms. This is not only for your kitty’s safety, but also for your own. When cats go to the vet, they are usually anxious and scared of the new place and will often use their claws to get out of your hands or to hold on tighter. A vet is an unfamiliar place full of unfamiliar smells and sounds, so plan for your cat to be stressed and protect yourself by transporting them using a carrier.
Let your cat wander or expose them to other pets. Keep your cat away from other animals at a clinic, as these other pets can stress your cat out further and increase their risk of picking up a disease. Keeping them off of the floor of a veterinary clinic also reduces this risk.
Skip out on vet visits because you don’t want a day of stress for you or your cat. Regular vet visits are hugely beneficial for cats - preventative care is a much more effective (and ultimately cheaper) alternative to treating cat health problems that have worsened unnoticed. Remember that your kitty ages more quickly than humans, and cats are very good at hiding symptoms of health issues. So brace yourself, do your best to keep your cat calm, and for the sake of your cat’s health get them to the vet regularly!
Getting them to the vet regularly is easier said than done, so here are some concrete things you should do to create a more positive experience for you and your kitty:
Choose vets wisely. There are a lot of things good vets can do to help ease stress for cats and owners: How is the waiting room? Are there feline only areas or quieter corners? What about pheromone diffusers? When you get into the examination room, observe how your vet handles the checkup. Is the room clean, with examination table wiped down? Are all supplies handy, or does the vet have to leave the room to retrieve things? You want a vet who is well prepared and mindful of your cat’s stress levels, increasing meaningful face time with your and your pet and decreasing distractions and additional stresses.
Leave plenty of time to prepare. The process of a stress-free vet visit begins long before you even leave your home. Give yourself plenty of time to get your cat ready to so that the visit will be as calm and unhurried as possible – a last minute rush out the door will put your cat in an agitated state before you even arrive at the clinic.
Preparation can also begin well before this moment. Acclimating your cat to being touched and handled, as well as to being transported in a carrier, can make them better mentally prepared to deal with some of the anxiety-inducing elements of a vet visit.
Use a carrier. This is truly the most important thing to remember when bringing your cat for a vet visit. Carriers are an important part of giving your cat a safe haven on a trip to the vet – or on any trip for that matter. Cats always like to position themselves so that they can see everything, but still be hidden. Therefore, a plastic carrier with holes and a grate door are ideal for cats, as they allow them the protection and the views they desire. The carriers that you can unscrew, unbuckle or unzip the top of the carrier from the bottom and have access to your cat are the best. That way, the cat feels comforted because she or he hasn’t been pulled out of the carrier. The stress is less!
Since sometimes half the battle is getting your cat in the carrier in the first place, here are some tips for handling that step:
- Train them early on to get into the carrier and ride in your vehicle.
- Leave the carrier out around the house so that it becomes familiar to the cat.
- Use familiar scents from blankets or towels in the carrier, or a synthetic pheromone scent to calm them.
- Understand your cat’s anxiety and be patient and loving!
Call and update the clinic. If you’ve loaded your cat in their carrier and they are already in panic mode, it’s a good idea to call ahead to the vet and let them know your what your cat’s temperament is at the moment. This way they can be better prepared for the visit and help you find ways to keep your cat calm once you arrive.
Let the vet do the handling. Once your cat is in the exam room, let your vet take your cat from the carrier and do all the handling. Even the sweetest cat at home can become frightened and subsequently aggressive at the vet office. That’s actually what they are supposed to do, given the circumstances. Your vet has been trained to interpret and anticipate this sort of behavior and knows how to react to it.
Stay positive. Animals feed off of the energy their owners radiate – so if you are stressed about the visit, your cat will pick up on that feeling and mirror it. Keep the positive vibes going to soothe your kitty as much as possible.
Vet visits are not to be missed at the risk of a cat health issue developing unnoticed, so don’t let the stress deter you – stay calm, and trust in good preparation and the expertise of a good vet to get your cat through the experience!
What do you do to keep your Ragdoll cat calm for a vet visit?