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Taking your cat to the vet

At some point in her life, your cat will make the trip the vet. While this is usually a stressful event, there are a number of things you can do to make it easier for you both.

When transporting your cat anywhere outside the house, use a cat carrier, even if she usually likes to be held. Your cat can easily become frightened while in an unfamiliar place or surrounded by unfamiliar people. Even a friendly cat may bite, scratch or try to escape.

Your cat may also urinate or defecate when she becomes frightened. A carrier will make sure this mess doesn't end up on you or on the waiting room floor. Line your cat carrier with familiar and comforting bedding - use something she usually sleeps on or an old piece of clothing that has your scent. Covering the cat carrier with a blanket or towel may also help keep your cat relaxed. Cats like to hide when they're frightened or uncertain and the darkness and covering provided by the blanket will make her feel safe and secure.

Familiarise

Cats don't tend to like trips to the vet, where they are examined and surrounded by strange sights, smells, people and animals. If the only time your cat ever sees the carrier is immediately before it is used to take them to the vet, she will understandably develop a strong aversion to it.

She may hide every time the carrier appears or fight tooth and nail not to be put into it. You can help prevent this behaviour by leaving the cat carrier out all the time. Make sure it's a familiar part of your cat's surroundings. You may want to give your cat treats in the carrier every once in a while just so she thinks of it as a 'good place'.

If your cat has developed a strong aversion to the carrier it may be difficult to coax her inside. Try persuading her into the carrier with treats or ask someone to hold the carrier upright while you place the cat inside. If your cat is determined not to enter, don't force her, just put the carrier away. Let your cat relax a while then wrap her in a blanket or towel and quickly place her in the carrier.

Once you are at the vet's clinic keep the carrier covered. This will continue to make your cat feel safe. If you can't avoid sitting near other animals, then at least try to keep away from the loud or boisterous ones.

Ask to help

When it's time for the consultation, ask your vet if you can help to hold her. Remember though, that your vet and the veterinary nurses will be very experienced at holding uncomfortable or frightened animals and know how to avoid getting hurt or hurting your cat.

So don't worry, your cat is in good hands. The vet may cover your cat's head with a towel, again this is to give her the impression she is hiding.

Veterinary clinics can be very busy places. If you want extra time to talk to your vet about your cat, plan ahead. Book a longer appointment if you can or don't come during peak hours. Veterinary clinics are usually at their busiest in the early morning or in the evening when people aren't at work.

Take your cat to the vet regularly. Not only will this allow her to get used to the experience, but will also give the vet a chance to get used to your cat! The more a veterinarian sees your cat the better the vet will be able to address her needs.

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