Last updated January 14th, 2018
A survival guide for coping with trips to the vet from a senior cat.
It’s 8:10 am and it’s time to leave the house to get to the vet on time but Fluffy is nowhere to be seen. You frantically search under every bed, in the cupboards and even the shower (well, because cats are weird like that and you’re half expecting to find him there, but of course he’s not) and there is no sign of him. Fluffy has sniffed something sinister a mile away and it smells like “vet checkup!” For most cats, myself included, this Houdini tactic is something we have all done at some point in our nine lives. But today I would like to let you in on my transition from a cat who bolted from the cat carrier to a grand old dame who cheerfully hops inside and loves feeling the wind in her whiskers. Well, not today, though, it was -20 degrees celsius and I was certain my old bones would not take kindly to frozen whisker syndrome for the first time, so I settled for the back seat of the car, in a cat carrier. (Yes, I know, boring!)
Now for all you seasoned cats out there, you might knowingly blink at a few points, you might flick your tail in disbelief or you might just start washing your paws in embarrassment. But for the youths out there, let this old lady Bengal (that’s moi!) give you a few pointers on how to survive the trip to the vet with your dignity intact.
10 Survival tactics for surviving trips to the vet.
Own your cat carrier. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s your safe space, use it! A good idea is for the humans to leave the carrier out the night before so it’s not a big surprise when it’s time to leave. Train them to play games with you in the carrier a few days before the vet appointment, like chasing your mouse or catching Da bird.
Don’t be shy to bring along your favorite toy in the carrier with you. Anything that is going to make you feel good and remind you of home, is a plus in my book.
Your human can also give you a few drops of rescue remedy if you’re a very nervous kitty and really hate car rides. Oh, I remember those days!
It’s no use screaming and performing like a banshee during the car ride. This will most certainly agitate your nerves further and you might end up throwing up in the car. Believe me, I know I’ve been there, and it’s nasty.
Don’t eat a meal just before you’re about to leave. Some cats, like myself, get car sick. Refer to number 4!
When you arrive at the vet’s office be prepared for all manner of odors, remember there are a lot of woofies there too. Remain calm, they are just as freaked out as you are.
Resist the urge to paw at the carrier like there’s a vacuum cleaner behind you. Firstly, you will look like it’s your first time, and secondly, there is no vacuum cleaner after you. Repeat the mantra “It’s all in my head, it’s all in my head…”
When the vet is ready to examine you, be sure to disembark from your Royal Cat Carrier with confidence, ease, and elegance. Do not hold on tightly, gripping the back of the carrier recoiling into a nervous wreck of fur and claws. Just hop out casually like you’re in your own living room, just emptier.
When in doubt, purr up a storm. It relaxes you as well as everyone around you so the poking and prodding go quicker and it’s over before you know it. The technicians handling you will be cooing all over you like kitties on catnip.
Lastly, a calming tactic which works very well in my ripe old age is to let my mind drift off to my favorite safe space and be in my zen zone. There’s nothing better than being transported to a hot summer’s day chasing butterflies and sniffing catnip. And as we all know, that smells nothing like “vet checkup!”
Watch 10 ten seconds of me, casually waiting for the vet to arrive.
The cherry on the catnip pie was when my results of my blood profile came back as pretty normal for an almost 15-year-old cat.
For more tips on this topic see our other posts on preparing your cat for travel and visits to the vet.
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