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Posted on 08-23-2016

Anyone who owns a cat knows that a "Fear- Free" visit to the veterinary office is a dream, at best.  Or is it?  There are several things you can do to help your feline companion and family member comfortable and -dare I say it?- maybe even enjoy the visit.  

There are several pheromone products on the market that when applied to your cat's carrier can help your cat feel like the carrier is a safe, welcoming place.  These products utilize all the latest scientific advances to take the cat's facial pheromone (the one the cat himself rubs all over everything when he is happy and content and rubbing his lips and cheeks on you, the furniture, etc) and puts that same smell in wipes, sprays, and even plug-in diffuser (think Glade- plug-in that you can't smell, but your cat can).  The plug-ins won't help much for a trip to the vet, but the wipes and the sprays can be applied to the carrier and the blanket in the carrier and the kitty will associate the smell with comfort and happiness.  

While traveling, keep the carrier as secure as possible and cover it up.  In fact, cover it with a sheet or towel sprayed with pheromone spray as well.  (Hint:  the spray has a tiny bit of alcohol in it, so after spaying it on the blanket, towel, carrier, etc, wait about 10 minutes before using it so kitty will smell pheromone and not the alcohol base - which cats HATE).

Another helpful tip is to leave the carrier out in the house all the time if possible.  Taking the carrier out only for car trips makes kitty associate the carrier with scary car rides and veterinary pokes and temperature taking.  Leaving it out so kitty can lay in it without being grabbed and whisked off for unknown and certain torture will also help him or her to be more comfortable.

When you get here to the veterinary office, we will also have the pheromone, so we can try to get kitty to associate the office with comfort as well.

This is a great start for many kitties, but for some, they need more.  Talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications that can be used for vet visits or other similar situations.  There are many options we have now that are safe and effective.  

In truth, these will not work on all cats.  But if we can decrease the fear and stress for some, and maybe for others make the vet even slightly less stressful, we can turn the vet into not-such-a-scary place.  It is a win-win-win:  for kitty, for owner, and for the veterinary staff too.  We want to see not only healthy patients, but happy ones too.

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