At Just Cats Clinic, we work to make your cat’s visit to our office as stress free as possible, but there are things you can do at home to help make your cat’s visit a success.
Before Your Appointment
Leave the carrier out all the time, so that it isn’t a foreign object to your cat. If you are unable to leave it out, then several days before your appointment, take the carrier out and regularly spray it with Feliway, a synthetic pheromone that can help your kitty feel safe and secure. Make sure to create an inviting place for your cat in and near the carrier by giving treats or putting down a blanket that smells like home. The goal is to make the carrier a place your cat isn’t afraid of and doesn’t always associate with something scary. While it can be tempting to skip the carrier all together, it’s important to transport your cat to the vet in either a carrier or on a leash for safety. Remember the simplest thing can spook your cat in the parking lot. Also make sure you put something soft or absorbent in their carrier as well for transport in case they urinate. It will help keep your kitty dry in the event of an accident.
When scheduling your appointment, try to schedule it at a time when you’ll be the least busy so you don’t have to rush through your appointment. It can help your cat stay more relaxed if you’re calm as well. Also if you’re able to, try to factor in what’s better for your cat in your schedule. If you know your cat is stressed around your toddler, try to schedule an appointment time that best fits your toddler’s schedule or when a spouse or friend can either come with you or babysit.
Additionally, if you have a multi-cat household and want to bring them in together to keep them on the same schedule please feel free to do so. When you arrive, we may opt to keep only one cat in the room at a time for examination. Frequently, even cats that are the best of friends at home don’t do well together in the exam room with all the new smells and sounds.
If you have a cat that tends to be nervous at the vet, scheduling earlier appointments on weekdays and avoiding Saturdays can also help. Because Saturdays are shortened hours, we typically have less staff working. Earlier appointments are helpful in that if your cat does need sedation, we’ll have plenty of time in the schedule to accommodate. If you come in on a Saturday and your cat ends up needing sedation, we’ll frequently have to schedule a time during the week for you to come back.
You may also find it helpful to organize and write down your questions or concerns before your appointment and bring them with you to maximize your time with the vet. It can help us ensure that when you leave our clinic, all of your questions are answered and you have the information you need to make the best decisions possible for your cat.
At Your Appointment
Upon arrival at Just Cats Clinic, we do our best to minimize wait times to help with your cat’s stress level. Remember you can place your cat’s carrier on the cat tree to allow them to look out the window to help distract them. If you do find yourself waiting, try to minimize how many other cats your cat sees. While it’s tempting to show them other cats in the waiting area or see how they react to our kittens in the playroom, most cats feel threatened and stressed when they are confined and see another cat. While you wait, talk to your cat in soft tones to help reassure them.
Additionally, it may seem like a good idea to get your cat out of the carrier in the waiting room since it’s the source of their stress, but cats can easily get overwhelmed and typically feel safer in their carrier instead of a large unknown space. Getting your cat upset before they even make it to the exam room can determine how successful our team and doctors are at examining your cat.
Once you enter the exam room, let our team help guide you in regards to removing your cat from the carrier. We tend to make our appointments longer so we have time to allow your cat to get used to the room and our team members before we do anything with them. Never dump or force your cat out of the carrier – let our team help guide you so we can keep your cat’s visit as low-stress as possible. It can also be helpful if you bring your cat’s favorite treats.
Once we’re ready to examine your cat, it’s important to let the doctor and patient care team member do the handling. We tend to believe our cat would NEVER bite or scratch us, but when your cat is nervous in an unfamiliar place, anything could happen. If your cat does become fearful or stressed and the patient care team member or doctor lets go, please never try to grab your cat. When we let go while handling a scared cat, it’s for the benefit of the patient and the staff members. Many times attempting to grab or hold on to the patient can escalate anxiety and make the situation much worse and can even result in a team member or you getting bit or scratched. By letting go we minimize stress and injury for the cat and team members.
Always be your cat’s advocate! At Just Cats, we work very hard to be transparent in everything that we do with our patients. If you know something that might work better or definitely won’t work – let us know. As always, whether we are working with your cat in the exam room or back in treatment, you are welcome to accompany us. Just remember, always follow our team member’s directions and never place your hands or arms near your cat’s face.
After Your Appointment
Sometimes in a multi-cat household, you may have some behavioral difficulty when you return home from the vet with one of your cats. That cat now smells like the vet and your other cat(s) smell like home so there may be some tension as they reintegrate. To help with this integration, you can put the tiniest drop of vanilla extract at the base of all of cat’s tails – that way when they smell each other, they all smell the same! You can also take a shirt you’ve worn that smells like you and rub it over the back of all your cats to reach the same effect.