Most cats find travelling outside their home to be a very stressful experience.
Cats aren’t daft, they know that the cat carrier means a trip to the vet where they will very likely be poked and prodded, often when they are already feeling poorly or sore. Or it could be a trip to the cattery while you are away on holiday, either way your cat knows that the cat carrier is not a good thing. I’m sure that more than a few of you have tried getting your cat through that small opening in the cat carrier and ended up completely stressed, with a few battle wounds and a missing cat!
How to make travelling less stressful
1. If possible leave the cat carrier in your home (rather than the shed or garage) with a nice cosy bed in it. Rewarding your cat with a tasty treat when he or she chooses to go near or into the carrier and playing with toys around and inside the carrier, should encourage frequent use and ensure your cat doesn’t always associate it with nasty trips. It also means that your cat learns to feel safe in there.
2. Make sure the carrier is sturdy and escape proof once the door is closed. The last thing you want is a stressed cat leaping about in the car on the way to the veterinary surgery or cattery, or worse escaping while you are in a car park miles away from home.
3. Choose your carrier carefully. It is much easier to pick up a cat and pop him into the open top of a basket/carrier, rather than trying to force him through a small doorway in the front – if his feet are on the floor it is much easier to escape! If you can’t get a top opening carrier, my tip is to position the carrier so that the door is facing upwards and gently put the cat in.
4. Make sure your carrier is big enough for your cat. I see a lot of huge cats uncomfortably squished into tiny carriers and it is made even worse if the cat has an accident while travelling; the carrier should be big enough that they can easily turn around and move away from a soiled area at the back or front of the carrier (but not too big that they don’t feel secure). If you are going to be travelling a long way with your cat then a small dog crate/carrier covered with a blanket or towel may be a better option so that you have room for a litter tray and water bowl.
5. It is always a good idea to have some sort of absorbent liner in the carrier in case your cat has an accident. Absorbent pet bedding such as Vet-Bed can be used or you could get some incontinence pads which are quite cheap to buy and easily cut to size.
6. Using Feliway (www.feliway.co.uk) spray in the carrier 15 minutes before you place you cat into it may help to keep your cat calmer on the journey and at the vets. Feliway helps cats naturally cope with stressful situations and is available from your veterinary practice or in some of the bigger pet stores.
7. If you are going to be travelling a long distance with your cat, ensure that he or she has access to fresh water. For very long journeys a larger travelling crate with room for a litter tray and somewhere to hide may make for a happier kitty. You may also want to consider chatting to your vet about medication to help your cat feel calmer on the journey; as well as using Feliway, products such as Zylkene or Scullcap & Valerian may also be helpful.
To avoid stress at the veterinary surgery
Put your cat in a carrier when you visit your vet because your cat will feel much more secure in there than if he or she were loose in your arms. There are cat harnesses available, but if your veterinary practice isn’t lucky enough to have a separate cat waiting area, your cat will be terrified and have nowhere to hide if a dog comes into the waiting room.
Turn your cat carrier around so that it’s door is facing a wall , chair back or yourself (obviously this doesn’t apply to top-opening carriers!). Some cats are also much happier with a towel or small blanket over the top of their carrier to give them even more privacy, especially if they are in a wire basket.
Try not to sit close to any dogs who might be visiting the vets. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen dogs being allowed to sniff the carrier containing a terrified kitty who cannot escape, and the dog owner saying “it’s ok, he’s good with cats” and the cat owner replying “Oh yes, it’s fine she lives with a dog” Poor cat! The same applies to other cats, it is best to face them away from each other when possible.
Cat Friendly At Castle Vets
At Castle Vets we take great pride in providing special facilities and exceptional care for cats. Our feline patients never have to be worried about seeing dogs because we have completely separate cat facilities. The cat waiting room and reception area, consulting rooms, hospitalisation ward and operating theatre are all dog-free zones and, as a result, our feline patients are much calmer and far less stressed when they come to visit us. Our vets and nurses fully understand a cat’s special needs when visiting the practice, whether it is for a routine visit or for a longer stay with us.
If you would like to look around our practice, or make an appointment for your cat to see a vet, please contact Castle Vets on 01189 574488. You can also see our fabulous facilities by visiting the Castle Vets website