Taking Your Cat to the Vet
Take Your Cat to the Vet
Why your cat needs to have regular health checkups.
By Lisa King
Veterinarian visits are expensive. Taking your cat in for a routine checkup can run over $100 if he’s due for a vaccination. If you have multiple cats, the costs mount. Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. For these reasons, many cat owners avoid taking their cats to the vet unless there is an obvious medical problem. In fact, dogs are taken to the vet twice as often as cats are.
Avoiding routine vet visits can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary. If your cat is older or has any existing health issues, he should see the vet twice a year.
The vet will check your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listen to his heart and breathing. She will also weigh your cat, and might recommend blood work, especially if your cat is senior. If any problems are found, they can be dealt with before they become more serious—and more expensive.
It’s a good idea to bring a stool sample in a plastic baggie to your appointment. That way, the vet can test for intestinal parasites right away.
The annual vet visit is a good time to discuss other topics with the doctor. Is your cat exhibiting any unusual behaviors? Has he suddenly started urinating outside the litterbox? Has his appetite increased or diminished? Is he drinking more or less water than normal? Changes like these can be indications of underlying medical issues.
If you are avoiding vet visits because your cat goes postal at the sight of his carrier, there are steps you can take to calm him down. Start by placing the carrier in an area your cat frequents so it isn’t a signal that a vet visit is imminent. Leave the door open and put a favorite blanket, a couple of toys and some treats inside.
Put a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray. These synthetic pheromone products are designed to reduce anxiety in cats by mimicking the scent of lactating mother cats.
Take your cat on car rides that don’t end up at the vet. Drive around for several minutes and then come home and give your cat a treat or a favorite toy. This will lead him to associate car rides with rewards rather than punishment.
In extreme cases, your vet can prescribe a sedative to be given shortly before visits. This will make it easier for you to transport your cat and will also make it easier for the vet to examine him.
If your cat still gets very stressed by vet visits, it is possible to find vets who make house calls. Ask your vet if she does, or if she can recommend someone who does. Keeping your cat in familiar surroundings and skipping the car ride will reduce his anxiety significantly and will make his annual checkups relatively painless for both of you.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”
Taking Your Cat to the Vet
You can make a stressful event less so with these feline transportation tips.
By Sandy Robins
It’s no secret; cats, carriers and cars do not add up to a fun time. The mournful meows en route can be very stressful on the driver too. Usually the destination is the vet’s office, which exacerbates the situation. And some cats are so anxious they pee inside the carrier, which just makes the trip even more uncomfortable for all concerned.
What to Know About Cat Carriers
It’s really important for your cat to understand that the carrier is not a big bad box.The best way to do this is to leave it open around the house and allow her curiosity to take over and initiate detailed explorations.
If your cat is so freaked out by your existing carrier, it might be a good idea to donate the one you have to an animal shelter and start over with a new one that has no bad associations. The latest designs offer additional ventilation and wider windows so they can look out at their surroundings.
If you are not planning on using it for air travel, consider purchasing a round carrier. Cats like to sleep curled up “in the round” and this could help her feel more at ease. Alternatively, a dog carrier could offer more comfort, as often they are a little roomier than those designed specifically for cats.
There are lots of things you can do beforehand to help make the journey less stressful for her, too. Start by adding some Rescue Remedy to the water bowl the night before. This is a tasteless calmative to help ease travel stress.
It’s also a good idea to spray the carrier just before a trip with a pheromone spray.
Research has shown that cats (as do dogs) communicate with each other via certain pheromones. A mother cat is able to calm her kittens through the natural pheromones she emits. Thus, products that mimic these pheromones can help a cat of any age feel more secure in the carrier and cope better while in the car.You can also consider placing a favorite toy in the carrier for comfort.
My Ziggy gets very stressed when we travel to the vet’s office. Consequently, I bought him a ThunderShirt, now available in different sizes for felines. The ThunderShirt works on the swaddling principle that mothers use to calm small babies and toddlers, and it has definitely made a difference for him. He still meows a bit, but he no longer emits long mournful meows and seems much calmer when we get to the destination and back home.
If your cat simply can’t control her bladder, it’s a really good idea to line the carrier with a puppy pee pad to absorb the accident and keep her dry and the carrier from smelling. Put a second one in a carrier pocket so that you have a fresh liner for the journey home.
The safest place for a carrier is on the floor of the front passenger seat or the floor area of the back seat. In this position, if you break suddenly, there is nowhere for the carrier to fly forward. However, this means your cat can’t really see what happening. Consequently, playing music on the journey can help keep her calm. There are even music modules specially designed to fit into a carrier to block out car and traffic noises.And don’t forget to talk to her, too. The latest research done by scientists at the University of Tokyo has shown that cats react to their owner’s voice.
However, if all this doesn’t help, there is the possibility that she suffers from motion sickness. Seek advice from your veterinarian. There are prescription products to ease the situation.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats