Getting your cat to the vet may take some work. Here are techniques to help. | Pet Peeves

Dear Readers,

Last week’s column turned the spotlight on cats. It is often pointed out to me that cats are underrepresented in my column. The truth is, cats are typically underrepresented at veterinary hospitals. Cats are harder to get to the veterinarian, and they are better at hiding their illnesses.

Getting a cat to the veterinarian can be a daunting task. The most important thing to know is to always have your cat in a carrier when you take it to a veterinarian. When cats are scared, the claws and teeth come out. Cats can twist and escape, doing great damage as they struggle to get away. Wrapping your cat in a towel or using a leash will not protect you from that. A pet carrier eliminates the danger both in the car while driving and in the reception area of the clinic.

Getting your cat to cooperate to take a trip to the vet can be daunting. There are techniques available to assist.
Getting your cat to cooperate to take a trip to the vet can be daunting. There are techniques available to assist.

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Getting a cat into a carrier at home is difficult. I maintain that cats have a sixth sense about knowing when they will have to go to the veterinarian. I used to notice that though I would go to the veterinarian’s office every day because it was my job, the only days my cat would hide from me were the days that I was planning to take him with me.

To avoid the disappearing cat syndrome, if your cat is an outside cat, bring him in the house the night before. If your cat is inside, shut him into a room where he cannot hide the night before. This preparation will help you avoid having to cancel your appointment the morning of because you can’t find the cat.

Some cats know how to fight being put in the carrier when it is time. They stretch their body out, making it impossible to get them through the door of the cage. Avoid this by putting your cat in a pillowcase. Turn the carrier on its end. Lower the cat, pillowcase and all, into the carrier and close the door. The pillowcase will fall away from your cat after it is released. Be sure and put your cat in the carrier back feet first. It makes it harder for them to fight the cage opening.

Before you put your cat in the carrier, place a towel, newspaper, or some other absorbent material in the cage. This reduces the mess if your cat throws up or has an accident in the cage during the trip.

Be careful when you set the carrier down. Make sure that the surface is level and that the entire bottom of the cage rests securely on the surface. Cages that are partially off a chair or table can flip over as the cat changes positions.

If you have difficulty lifting heavy objects, it will be worth your money to invest in a light cloth travel carrier. They make some that are for over the shoulder carrying. Heavy plastic carriers, while very durable and great for long trips are unwieldy and can weigh five to ten pounds. When you add a twelve-to-fifteen-pound cat, you can be lifting as much as twenty-five pounds.

If you cannot lift your cat in its carrier, when you reach the veterinarian’s office, call them for help getting your cat out of the car. Veterinary staff are more than willing to come out to your car and carry in your pet as long as it is confined to a carrier.

Cats should visit the doctor once a year at least. This allows for an exam to monitor the health of your cat, and the administration of any needed vaccines.

This article originally appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: How can I get my cat to the vet? How to get your kitty in a carrier