Anxious No More!: Keep Your Cat Cool and Calm at the Vet and at Home
No cat parent wants to see their furbaby feeling frightened or ill at ease. Unfortunately, some cats are overly anxious by nature, and outside factors can compound this significantly. These stressed-out kitties bring new meaning to the phrase "nervous as a cat!"
But here is some excellent news: You can take steps to help soothe your less-than-calm kitty and help them cope with what causes them distress. Here's how:
Vexed at the Vet
The most common cause of anxiety in cats is the dreaded visit to the vet's office. Possible reasons for fear at the vet's office include:
- Barking dogs
- Breaking their routine
- Loud noises
- Other cats
- Other cats vocalizing
- Riding in the car
- Strange odors in the air
- Unfamiliar animals scents on the floor/furniture
- Unfamiliar surroundings
And it's not just the kitties - cat parents get stressed about taking their kitties to the vet too. Parents typically worry that the experience will be painful or that a severe problem will be found. However, ignorance is not bliss - you need to know if your cat is ill and if any present condition needs to be treated sooner rather than later, so that visit is vital.
Unfortunately, cats sense our anxiety and become anxious and fearful even if they aren't already extra nervous. Cats may also be wary of the vet because of negative experiences such as having injections or being restrained. While there are some things about the vet that you cannot change, there are ways to make the experience easier.
Make the Carrier Comfy
Cats receive a cue that a vet visit is looming when you bring out their carrier. Put it out in the open, such as in the living room. Reward them when they walk in or near the carrier. Create a trail of treats and put them a bit closer a little bit at a time. Ignore them if they avoid it, and give them their favorite treat if they don't.
Ask your cat to get in the carrier regularly. Once your cat is in the carrier, give them a treat and say a verbal cue like "Go?" or "Ready?" in a calm and positive tone. Be patient! Training may happen over a day, or it could take weeks.
Also, you may wish to add a t- shirt you've worn or a piece of bedding, such as a pillowcase, to serve as a security blanket, as your scent will help them feel safe. Also, consider that some cats develop motion sickness, which makes them suspicious of riding in a car. Ask your vet to prescribe preventive medication if this appears to be a problem.
Help Them Prepare
Consider doing a vet test run. Put your cat in a carrier, drive to the next block or the end of your road and back, and then give them a favorite treat. Increase the length of the ride to increase their comfort level.
Train your cat to be more comfortable with being touched. At a young age, teach them to accept touch by handling their head and paws and touching their face. Regularly doing this will make your cat feel less anxious when vet care providers touch them. Offer a favorite treat as a reward.
Calming aids such as Feliway or Zylkene can also help. You can use a diffuser for a few days before the vet appointment. If you don't have much notice, you can still use the spray or wipe formulas about a half- hour before leaving, and your cat will still benefit from the calming effects. Zylkene is an OTC product made from casein that has been shown to help stress and anxiety.
Pursue Other Options
If that innate sense of "feline fear" seems resistant to your efforts to calm your cat about their vet visits, try to find a cats- only clinic or one that at least has one cats- only day per week. The staff at cats- only clinics are experts at managing stress levels of cats, including ensuring restraint is as stress- free as possible.
Talk to your vet's staff if your cat still gets stressed about seeing the vet. They may be able to fit them in when no other appointments are scheduled or even escort you both straight into the exam room, bypassing the waiting room altogether.
In addition to vet anxiety, cats can become anxious at other times. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with just a few of these situations:
Treats to the Rescue
Eating is soothing, relaxing, and just plain rewarding for cats. If you know your cat isn't a massive fan of doing what you need them to or something going on in your home, have them go just a little hungry, so they'll respond ideally to those tasty, calming treats. Even better? Put the goodies in a puzzle toy, which will keep their brain occupied as they work to dig out the food - a double distraction from nerves.
Make Bathtime a Breeze
Since the sound of running water can be upsetting to your cat, draw the water while your cat is in another room and out of earshot. Check that the water is warm (but not hot!) and decant the shampoo into a separate container before you get them. (That way, the sounds of the bottle being squeezed won't worry a nervous cat.)
Quell Kitty's Separation Anxiety
Has your cat experienced separation anxiety because you returned to work in your office instead of at home? They say music soothes the savage beast, so why not put it to use to ease your kitty's mind? As you head out, put on one of these choices: Classical music, reggae, and audiobooks. (Avoid hard rock - cats are not headbangers!) It may prove immensely helpful for your kitty to listen to someone with a similar voice to yours reading an audiobook in a calm, steady voice.
Nix Fear of Noises
A moderate compression vest can help some cats stay calm since noise from a vacuum cleaner, fireworks, or a thunderstorm can be a significant source of worry. It's critical to address your cat's anxiety as soon as you notice them reacting to loud noises since, over time, these behaviors tend to escalate. Eventually, your cat may panic at small noises if things worsen. Talk to your vet to find out if this is an option for your furbaby.
Meowtel Can Help!
We know that you want your furbaby to receive the same care and attention you provide while you travel. Cats experience much less anxiety in their home surroundings, so Meowtel is the purr- fect option for keeping your kitty cool as a cucumber (and pampered to boot!) while you're away.
Find your ideal sitter match here: https://meowtel.com/search
Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash