Santa Clarita, Calif., August 20, 2014 — When was the last time your cat had a check-up? If you are like thousands of cat owners, it has probably been a while. Even though cats outnumber dogs in the U.S. (there are 95.6 million cats compared to 83.3 million dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association), cat owners are less likely to schedule annual exams than dog owners are.
Like their counterparts, cats need regular exams and vaccinations, too. With some owners avoiding veterinarian visits due to an anticipated negative reception from their cats, some choose to forgo the visit altogether. However, a visit to the veterinarian does not have to be a dreaded and stressful event, reports Animal Behavior College (ABC).
August 22 is “National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day.” To heighten awareness, ABC not only encourages cat owners to schedule regular veterinary visits, but also suggests behavior modification techniques that teach cats to make positive associations when being crated, which in turn could make for a more peaceful and less stressful ride to the veterinary office.
“Many cat owners are not aware that there is a direct correlation between their cat’s behavior and how they develop negative associations over time, which can occur every time they are placed in a carrier or riding in a car,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “There is a misconception that cats cannot be trained and that challenging behaviors are not treatable. In fact, you can modify cat behaviors. You can train them to enter a carrier for transport. Behavioral changes are attainable by employing positive associations for desired results.”
The 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook affirmed that total veterinary visits for canines in 2011 was 130.4 million compared to veterinary visits for cats at only 60.5 million visits.
In addition, 38 percent of cat owners admitted that taking their cat to the veterinarian caused much anxiety and stress, according to the Bayer-AAFP study. As part of ABC’s program for professional cat trainers, the school teaches positive reinforcement training to correct undesirable feline behaviors.
Positive Association. Unlike dogs, most cats are not accustomed to being in a crate or transported via a carrier. To create a positive association, ensure that the carrier is large enough for your cat to move around comfortably. Set it in an area on the floor that is easily accessible. Place, treats, catnip or favorite toys inside it. Leave the carrier out for two to three weeks until your cat regularly enters it on his own; he might even sleep in it. Every cat is different, so be prepared to make timeline adjustments as necessary.
Take Your Cat on a Test Drive. Once your cat is familiar with the carrier, put him in and take him for a short car ride that does not end at the veterinarian’s office. Do this a few times so that your cat does not always associate the car (or the carrier) with the veterinary or vaccinations clinic. When it comes time to take the cat to the vet, he should be less-stressed out upon arrival.
Prepare for the Ride. Once your cat has adapted to the carrier, you are ready to prepare him for the journey to the veterinarian’s office. A day or two before the trip, place your cat in a confined area so he does not hide when it is time to leave. Ensure he has access to food, water and a toy and place an extra blanket or towel inside the carrier. Repeat this process an hour before the trip so that your cat has time to enter the carrier on his own. While in transition, periodically observe your cat’s behavior to make sure he is not in distress.
ABC also offers an online continuing education program that teaches the proper socialization techniques for developing happy and healthy human-to-feline relationships. The Cat Management and Training Program is available to all of the school’s certified graduates. To become a dog trainer and obtain dog training certification or enroll in the veterinary assistance or grooming programs, please visit our website at www.AnimalBehaviorCollege.com or call 1-800-795-3294.
About Animal Behavior College
Animal Behavior College is the premier international vocational school specializing in certified animal career training programs. ABC has created a powerful team of skilled advocates who are devoted to nurturing the human-animal bond The founders of ABC have spent years developing and perfecting affordable career programs, many of which combine home learning with hands-on training externships with professional mentors. To date, more than 28,000 students have enrolled in ABC programs including over 1,900 in ABC's cat training program.
Did you know that cat owners in the U.S. take their feline companions to the vet half as often as dog owners take their dogs? This is mostly due to owners avoiding the trip because it causes too much anxiety and stress for them and their cat.