Many of us want to protect our furry family member from any stress, fear or pain especially in new environments such as the veterinary hospital. As cat and dog parents, we feel that we can decrease their stress and make everything better. This is mostly true. Our pets do take comfort from us and we can reduce stress, fear and anxiety at a vet visit.
But there are times that we, as pet parents, can cause more stress than we realize. We have met people who are a little too loud, a little too animated, or do not respect personal space, making social interactions stressful. They do not realize that if they change a few of their actions it can make interactions less stressful. Here are a few tips to help your feline friend!
Don't stuff your cat in a bag, box, or cage that was not designed for safe, stress free travel.
Don't drag or dump your cat out of their carrier.
Do use a carrier that can be taken apart easily or that has mulitple access points.
Do make the carrier a stress free zone by adding familiar blankets, beds, toys, treats, and a spritz of Feliway Pheromones.
Don't lean over with your face in front of your cat's face or place your hands in front of your cat's mouth during exams, procedures, or when they are stressed.
Do talk quietly and reassuringly to your cat and follow hospital staff's suggestions for interactions. Our staff will judge the situation and instruct you on how to help reassure your cat. Our goal is not to separate you and your cat. Safety for your cat, you and our staff is the utmost importance. Putting any individual in a position to cause stress or be injured can cause many issues including lasting negative associations, avoidable injury, quarantine or even death. We truly want the best for your cat.
Don't say it is OK for you to be bitten by your cat during the visit.
Do understand that if a cat bites anyone (including you) while they are at AHNA, we are required by NC law to report the bite to Animal Control which could lead to quarantine away from you.
Don't force your cat to stay on the table, be held, or hugged/crowded while waiting for exam or blood draw.
Do allow your cat to explore the room, play with toys, eat treats, relax, or return to their carrier.
Don't drag your cat from their hiding place (chair, computer, or cabinet).
Do allow your cat time to calm down and let the staff handle your frightened cat. We are able to provide hiding places for your cat during exams.
Don't assume it is better for your cat to be stressed than it is for them to have pre-visit medication for anxiety.
Do give recommended medications to reduce stress as directed before the visit.
Don't bring 2 cats in 1 carrier. One cat may feed off the other's stress and even best friends may fight in an unfamilar situation.
Do bring each cat in a separate carrier and let them determine if they want to interact in the exam room. If your cats do not get along at home, do schedule separate visits for them at the vet.
Visit https://www.ahna.net/fear-free-visit for more information about Fear Free Visits