Calming Your Pet’s Fear of the Vet: Crate Training Cats
Taking your cat to the vet’s office may be low on your list of enjoyable activities. First there is the struggle to get kitty into his or her carrier, and then the car ride to the vet with a yowling cat, followed by the ordeal of the actual office visit. It’s no wonder that, although cats are the most popular pet in the U.S., they are more likely to miss out on regular wellness exams than dogs.
Besides choosing a top-notch veterinary practice (ahem), one of the biggest factors is helping your cat overcome his or her fear of the vet is crate training. By crate training your cat ahead of time, you can greatly reduce the level of anxiety that is normally associated with a trip to the vet.
The Benefits Of Crate Training Cats
While most of us associate crate training with dogs, the truth is that cats can, and do, benefit from their crates. The benefits of crate training cats are far reaching and include:
- Ease of transport to the vet, or in case of emergency evacuation of the home
- The crate trained can learn to associate his or her crate with a feeling of safety
- The crate can become a cozy retreat for napping, relaxing, or hiding
- Having “personal space” can reduce anxiety in your cat, especially when changes are occurring in the home
Kitty Crate Training 101
By now, we’ve hopefully convinced you that crate training your cat is the way to go. Let’s get started:
- Choosing a crate – Crates and carriers come in all shapes and sizes and are made of plastic, metal, or sturdy canvas. Your best bet when it comes to training is to purchase a three part carrier that is easily disassembled, so that you can add the walls, top, and door as your cat becomes more comfortable with it. Make sure there is just enough room for your cat to stand and turn around.
- Cozy is best – A soft blanket and maybe a few toys will help to make the crate more enticing for your Nervous Nellie.
- Positive association – Leave the door to the crate open and place tempting treats inside, or try feeding your cat’s meals in or near the crate.
- The door – Once your cat is successfully hanging out in his or her new hiding spot, experiment with closing the door, partway at first, then eventually fully closed and latched.
- Test run – Last but not least, close the door and walk the carrier around the house. Work your way up to short car rides.
Other Ways To Help A Fearful Cat
Besides crate training, there are other things you can do to make your cat’s trips to the vet as successful as possible. Arriving at the office with a list of prepared questions or concerns will help you to make the most out of the visit. Make sure to give kitty lots of praise, cuddles, and even treats in the carrier to reassure him or her that you are right there and that everything will be ok.
Taking care of your pet in a kind and humane way is our top priority at Androscoggin Animal Hospital. Please give us a call if you are having difficulty with crate training or have other concerns about your cat’s anxiety surrounding trips to the vet.