Is Your Cat Stressed About Visiting The Vet? Things You Can Do To Help Her Chill Out

Cats are creatures of habit. They do not like upheavals in their routine, and that includes brief changes. Since many cats rarely exit their homes, it comes as no surprise that when they are extracted from their cozy abode for a visit to the veterinary clinic, their systems enter the panic zone. Find out why and how you should take steps to reduce your cat's stress when you schedule a veterinary examination.

Stress Compromises Care

Many cat owners opt out of routine checkups for their feline friends because they don't like seeing their normally mild-mannered kitty transform into a fearful, and sometimes downright ornery, bundle of furry stress. Signs of stress in your cat may include any of the following:

  • Ears that are lowered forward or flattened backward
  • Thrashing tail
  • Pulling her paws as close to her body as possible
  • Eyes that are narrowed or eyes that are wide open with dilated pupils
  • Constant crying in the carrier
  • Hissing and growling
  • Urinating, defecating, or vomiting in the carrier
  • Swatting, biting, or lunging at clinic staff

When your cat is stressed, you may also become stressed, which escalates your cat's panic level. If your cat's anxiety leads to aggressive behavior, the veterinarian may not be able to conduct as thorough of an examination as he or she would like, particularly if your cat's behavior poses an immediate danger to the doctor or the staff. Stress can also incite biochemical reactions that can alter your cat's vital signs and blood test results, a phenomenon known as white coat artifact. Some of these effects include the following:

  • Elevation in body temperature
  • Elevation in blood pressure
  • Elevation in blood glucose level
  • Elevation in certain white blood cells
  • Elevation in red blood cells

For an accurate assessment of your cat's health, it is important to take steps to reduce your cat's stress when going to the veterinary clinic.

Feline-Friendly Veterinary Care

Many animal hospitals are going the extra mile to manage the stress levels in their feline patients. Some facilities provide separate entrances or waiting areas for cats and dogs. Some practices use feline pheromone sprays or diffusers to emit the calming pheromones into the environment. Reducing the noise level in areas where cats are waiting, examined and treated is also being instituted. If these extra measures still fail to soothe your anxious kitty's nerves, you may have to consider making the following changes in where your cat receives her medical care:

  • Ask your veterinarian if he or she conducts house calls or if another doctor on the clinic staff  would be willing to do so for your cat. Expect to pay a little more for this service.
  • If your veterinarian will not make house calls, switch to a mobile veterinarian that performs most veterinary services in your home or in a mobile medical van parked on your driveway.
  • Switch to an exclusively feline practice that is designed with cats in mind, where the doctor and staff are experienced with all behaviors in cats and where your cat will not come into contact with the smells and sounds of dogs.

If your cat is particularly stressful at the clinic, making the switch is doing what is best for your cat, and the clinic staff will understand your decision when you call to request your cat's medical records to present to your new veterinarian.

Other Stress Reduction Methods

Whether or not you choose to change veterinarians, there are additional steps that you should take to help calm your kitty. Some things that you can do include the following:

  • Get your cat used to the car by taking her along for frequent and short rides that do not end at the veterinary clinic; upon your return home from these excursions, and as long as she has not vomited during the ride, reward her with a treat so that she associates something pleasant with the ride.
  • Get your cat used to the carrier by leaving it out in her favorite room with its door open so that she can explore at her will; place a blanket, a toy and some treats in the carrier to make it more inviting.
  • When it's time for the veterinary visit, lead by example and stay calm. If you are stressed about your cat's veterinary examination, your cat will sense that and feel that her anxiety is justified; soft, soothing tones will be more effective at calming her down than loud and frantic tones when speaking in her presence.
  • Spray the carrier's interior with a feline pheromone product, which is helpful in reducing your cat's anxiety and fear-driven aggression.

Some cat owners have had success with herbal stress reducing products for cats. If you wish to try using one of these holistic products, consult with your veterinarian first. Always remember that just because a product is herbal, made for cats and can have positive effects on your cat, that does not necessarily mean that it poses no negative effects on your cat's health, alters laboratory test results or causes adverse interactions with any medications that your cat may already be taking.

Boarding Is No Vacation for Your Cat

Many owners opt to board their cats at their veterinarian's facility when they travel. If your cat stresses when she goes to the veterinarian for medical care, staying in the same place that induces her anxiety while you travel is not a peaceful vacation for her. If at all possible, hire a reputable pet sitter instead. Your cat will be able to stay at home where she can remain at ease. Most cats fare better with this alternative than they do in boarding facilities. It all goes back to the nature of the beast. The feline beast does not like change, and she may turn into a fearful or furious beast if change is forced upon her.

Stress is not a happy place for your cat. By taking steps to reduce her anxiety, veterinary visits, and other potentially unnerving scenarios, such as a household relocation, can become much easier for everyone involved.  To learn more, contact a company like Northwest Animal Hospital.

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