Friday, February 17, 2012

Have We Seen Your Cat Lately?

Compared with dogs, pet cats don't get to see their vets as often, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association. It is easy to understand why: cats are not always easy to find and then to get into their carriers, and they are often very stressed during the trip to the vet's office and during the visit itself. In addition, it may be mistakenly thought that cats are naturally healthier and more self-reliant than dogs and that, if something were wrong, signs would be noticed at home. Indoor-only cats may also be mistakenly thought to be at less risk of illness than cats who go outdoors, and therefore require less preventative care.

Unfortunately, cats are susceptible to a lot of health problems, regardless of their lifestyle, and, unlike dogs, they may hide signs of not feeling well until an illness as really progressed. Periodic physical examinations can help identify abnormalities before they turn into serious problems, sparing suffering and expense later. Cats' health can change fairly quickly, as well, so a clean bill of health this year does not necessarily mean next year's visit can be postponed.

At Animal Clinic at Equestrian Woods, we try to make the visit and exam as stress-free as possible. Getting cats used to both the carrier and traveling reduces the stress of getting here, so we can help keep feline family members healthy for a long, happy life.

Here are some tips to help cats get used to the carrier and travel to the vet:
  • Leave the carrier out at home with catnip or treats inside
  • Once he/she is comfortable in the carrier, take your cat with a favorite toy or treats on short rides in the car, gradually increasing distance as anxiety decreases. This shows that car rides don't always end at the vet clinic
  • Avoid feeding a couple of hours prior to travel
  • Minimize noise in the car-no loud music, no open windows, no sudden starts and stops. Sometimes a towel partially covering the carrier keeps carsickness at bay
  • Feliway, a synthetic feline facial pheromone, has a calming effect on cats when used in their carrier and the car about 30 minutes before travel
                                     Melissa Egan, DVM

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