If you read our blog last week, then you already know how to minimize stress for your cat prior to coming to the vet clinic. This week, we want to give our feline owners a glimpse into how our team works to minimize your cat’s stress once he or she arrives at our clinic.
Our goal is to get you and your feline companion into an examination room as swiftly as possible. This serves to minimize stress from sitting in the waiting room watching everything in the lobby or seeing / sensing dogs or other pets. Of course, if you do need to wait in the lobby, having that lightweight towel over the carrier like we talked about in last week’s blog will be helpful. Also, you can place the carrier on the seat next to you and face it away from all the activity while you are waiting.
When a cat transfers into a new environment or surrounding (such as the veterinary clinic), he or she needs some time to acclimate. This can take 10 to 20 minutes sometimes (or more!). Once settled in the room, you can open the door to the carrier to give your cat a chance to ‘warm up’ to the idea of coming out. If you brought special toys or treats with you that you know your cat enjoys, you can offer these as well. It’s best to let the cat choose to walk out of the carrier versus someone reaching in and grabbing the cat to pull him or her out. For cats that do not want to walk out of the carrier after having some time to adjust, taking the carrier apart (if it is a hard plastic one) is a good option. Often, our doctors can even get a portion of the examination done with the cat still sitting in the carrier once the lid is off, allowing your cat to still have the comfort of the carrier.
As you look around, you might also notice some of our exam room tricks to ease your cat’s worries, including window views, Feliway diffusers, and yoga mats or towels on the exam table. We will also try and talk quietly with you when asking questions since loud noises and sounds can startle or scare your pet.
Our team prefers to try and keep feline patients in the examination room throughout the visit whenever possible. Our doctors and technical team will try and bring supplies such as the scale, thermometer, and examination tools in at the start of the exam to minimize entry and exit into the room. Sometimes we do need to take the patient into the treatment area if bloodwork or special diagnostics (like x-rays, ultrasound, etc.) are needed. Rest assured we will do our best to minimize the stress of the transition.
Our doctors and staff recognize that each cat is a unique individual, so we will try and vary our handling techniques to best fit the needs of the patient. For all of our feline patients, we strive to use ‘cat friendly’ handling. Many feline patients benefit from a ‘less is more’ handling strategy. This means that we try and use as little restraint as possible while examining and working with the cat so the cat does not even realize he or she is being restrained. For example, a technician can be gently rubbing the head and neck area while the doctor examines the pet or gives vaccines. The technician is ready to hold a little more tightly if needed, but many times no further restraint is necessary. We also can use towels to facilitate your cat’s comfort while we perform the exam.
When your cat is all done with the visit, we like to have your cat stay in the room during check out. We can either check owners out in the exam room, or the carrier can be left in the room while you come to the front desk to check out. This just helps continue the idea of minimizing the movement and environmental changes your cat experiences in the clinic.
So now you have had a glimpse into many of the things we can do at the clinic to help your cat’s visit be less stressful, and more successful! Once you travel back home with your cat, remember that he or she may still be stimulated or scared. Your cat may benefit from being put in a quiet room (away from other pets or loud noises) for a bit after the visit to help him or her settle into a normal routine again.
Don’t forget about our Feline Focused appointment slots! This is our chance to bring the stress level down even more by striving to see only feline patients during those appointment blocks. Give us a call today if your cat needs to be examined!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS