Surveys show that difficulty of travel is one of the reasons cat owners don’t take their pets to see their veterinarians more often.
Here are some suggestions to make that trip easier.
- Some feline pets begin life going to the doctor for initial examinations and vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery, then fail to return in subsequent years. Kittens typically travel well. They have no preconceptions, their experiences at the veterinarian’s office are mostly positive (we strive to pet, scratch and love on them enough to offset the discomfort of vaccinations, and, going every 3-4 weeks, it becomes part of their routine. You have only to maintain that routine to keep them thinking positively about their travels. At least once a week, put your kitty into her carrier and just leave her in it. First for only a few minutes, then 30 minutes, then for a few hours. Include some of her usual bedding, along with some treats and maybe some soft music if you’re leaving home. For the time that you’re present, stop and pet her every once in a while, speaking to her in high-pitched, happy tones.
- Take a stool sample from the litterbox so we don’t have to use a probe into the colon to obtain the sample. Click here to learn how.
- Don’t even think about taking your kitty anywhere without his carrier. A loose cat in a vehicle is a disaster waiting to happen. Should he get in the way of your pedals or drape himself over the steering wheel a nasty accident could ensue. And, if he should defecate or urinate on the trip it will be confined to the carrier.
- For safety’s sake, travel with cat and carrier in the back seat. Click here to learn why. If another person is going with you, have him ride in the back seat with the kitty (still in the carrier!).
- Excitable and aggressive cats may benefit from a mild tranquilizer. Ask your pet’s doctor.
- If you haven’t used the carrier in a long time, leave it in a high-traffic location for a couple of days before you need to put your kitty into it. Doing so will help him disassociate the carrier from any negative travel memories.
- Consider leaving the carrier in an accessible location all the time. Just as with dogs it can serve as a sleeping location and hideaway he can enjoy.
- Before actual travel in the carrier, fast your pet. No food and no water for three hours. It is not unusual for cats to vomit, urinate and/or defecate during a car ride. By starting him with an empty stomach, you decrease the likelihood of these three events. No technique is foolproof, so use absorbent bedding just in case. It’s worth a try to put him in his litterbox prior to departure, but this technique will not always yield results.
- At least once a month (more often is better), take your cat for a ride in his carrier. Again, use some of his favorite bedding to make the ride as comfortable as possible. No treats this time, however (see fasting note above). At least some of the rides should include a visit to your veterinarian’s office. Not for medical care, but just to show the baby that sometimes fun things happen there. Here’s how. If possible, take him out of his carrier so the staff can give him some loving.
- Some cats are calmer when the carrier is covered, so try it with and without a towel or blanket to make it dark inside. The Molly Mutt crate cover may have a “doggy” name, but it works just as well for cats.
- If your kitty enjoys being groomed take her Furminator along with you. Many cats find this activity soothing.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.