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Posted on 01-15-2018

Kitty Crate Training - Stage 4

Road Trips

I am excited to talk about adding our next stepping stone on our journey of reducing the fear, anxiety and stress of transporting my cat to the veterinary hospital.

To recap, we have now have Simba spending time in his carrier napping, playing and eating which has changed his previous negative association to something very comforting and positive.  Now it is time to add in the next step which is taking some short trips and making some appointments for a “Happy Visit” at the hospital.  “Happy Visits” are a no charge service provided by Vale Park to our clients.  The visit basically allows the pet to come in to the hospital and not have any exam or vaccine performed, which is what they typically experience during a hospital visit. Depending on the pet, we may just have them come in and receive some delicious treats, maybe get them weighed, and then they get to go home.  This allows them to have a visit at our hospital that is positive. 

It has been documented that most cats only come to the vet when they are sick and only a small percentage come in for their wellness checks and vaccines.  Many believe this is because cats experience high amounts of stress when leaving home.  Part of this stress can be reduced by using the information presented in this blog.  

Ok, so before we get out on the road we have a few more tips to get things set up for success.  

First, we need to prepare the carrier for transport.  We want to spray Feliway on any bedding in the carrier and also on a towel about 30 minutes before loading the pet into the carrier. Feliway is a synthetic version of the cat facial pheromone. When the cat senses the Feliway, his brain gets the message that he is in a safe, stress-free environment. Feliway comes in a diffuser which is a plugin that you plug into the wall or as a spray that you can spray on objects. Make sure to shake out the towel and bedding after spraying Feliway onto your items.  The pheromone will have a calming effect on your cat.  It is important to do this at home before the pet has been stimulated.  Once adrenaline kicks in the product may take longer to work or may not work at all.  

When I am ready to load Simba into the carrier, I prepare a small tasty snack and lead him into the carrier.  One important thing to remember is try to bring you pet to the vet hungry.  Once he walks in, I will close the door and let him settle while I prepare the car.   

Yes, you heard me right I need to prepare the car.  I want to eliminate as much noise as possible.  I open the garage door first.  I then start the engine and open the passenger door to the back seat side of my car.  I also make sure I have calm music playing; classical or relaxing sounds work great.  I was told that listening to the Chainsmokers music loudly was not conducive to helping my pet feel calm and relaxed. Lesson Learned.  So the stage has been set and I am ready to go and get Simba.

I cover the carrier with my towel and pick it up, supporting the bottom with two hands, like I am carrying a baby.  When you carry the carrier from the handle, it creates a lot of extra movement for your cat.  There is a learning curve to doing this but, practice makes perfect and your cat will appreciate the security and stability offered by this method.  One more advantage to using this method is it keeps your cat from being at the eye level of any dogs that you may have to pass while walking through the waiting room.  Most cats are not huge fans of dogs.  

I then place Simba’s carrier onto the floor behind the passenger seat in my vehicle.  In our fear free training, this is recommended as a safe place for transporting your pet. I close the doors and we are off. 

Today, we are taking a short trip around the subdivision and then we will head for home.  We, will do this a few more times and then make a “Happy Visit” to the hospital.  This will be our homework for the next month. 

I have included two fun links for you to watch on transport from the cat’s perspective.  The links are both on You Tube.  #1 A cat’s perspective going to the veterinarian #2 Box Clever-Simon’s Cat.    

The next time we check in, I invite you to come along with Simba and I for our wellness exam.  My goal being to have Simba to arrive to the hospital with low to no stress.  This will help the Doctor be able to have a more cooperative exam and be able to use minimal restraint.  We will have some video footage to share along with the blog post.  Until next time!


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