How to get an angry cat to the vets
Here at petGuard we firmly fall into the cat lovers category, but even as feline fans, there are times when our moggies can drive us crazy. Just as children hate going to the dentist, many cats are terrified of the vets. Unless your cat has always had good vet experiences, they may have some residual trauma from a previous trip. After all, most domestic pets do get neutered or spayed, which as you can imagine is not a pleasant experience for them! That may explain some of those horrible growling, howling or hissing noises which cats make, that when combined with the vicious swiping and baring of their sharp teeth makes them seem like guardians of hell.
Don't forget that these are mini versions of big cats like tigers, and though too small to kill you, can certainly do some damage!
So, if your cat has become wary of the vet, here's a few tips to stop that simple visit from turning into a nightmare.
Vet home visits
Cats are very particular about their territory and smells that they associate with home, so taking them to a new location which smells of other animals and various chemicals is part of the problem. If your cat is showing signs of anger or aggression, then asking your vet for a home visit can be a huge help. If the vet has a record of your cat being particularly aggressive, then they're often only too happy to help (though some extra call out charges may apply).
Make their cat box seem appealing
The saga of a vet visit with a particularly angry cat falls into two components – getting the cat to the vet, then dealing with them once they’re on the vet's table. If you have trouble getting your cat into its box in the first place, it makes a lot of things tricky – not just vet visits but any transportation (such as moving house).
It can be really effective to con your cat into helping your cat imagine that their cat box is a pleasurable place. Take it out from wherever it's stored and leave it where your cat can get used to it and give it a good sniff. Then, once the box is normalised, take things up a notch by planting treats into the box for them to eat at their leisure. A wary cat who has had this trick played on them before may only put a paw in at first, but over time they will venture further into the box. Visualise in your mind how you will get them into the box and close the door. A good trick here can be to tip the box upside down and let gravity do its work. Obviously be careful not to injure your cat and also bear in mind that cats are very fast so you will have to be quick if you want this trick to work.
Use a crush cage
Vets will use a much more sophisticated form of this trick with angry cats. Although the crush cage sounds like a medieval torture instrument, it's just a very clever cage with a moving compartment which effectively immobilises your cat long enough to inject them or perform a basic inspection. Unfortunately, the crush cage will also have the effect of making your cat more unsettled, so you may need to try the next tip.
It's important to calm an angry cat when you head to the vets for a check-up.
Pacify your cat
Cats respond well to certain cat 'drugs' such as cat-nip and Feliway. The latter is a feline pheromone analogue – the same chemicals which cats have in their cheeks and which they rub on legs or furniture to mark their territory. Whether you've got a vet coming to your home or are gearing up to get them in their cage, setting an angry cat at ease with the gentle Feliway fumes is very much recommended. For particularly violent or aggressive cats, your vet may even prescribe a mild form of cat diazepam. It does work well, but getting them to ingest it can be challenging. Presuming that a difficult cat isn't just going to let you pop the pill into its mouth, try crushing it up and disguising it in their favourite food. You should never give your cat more of these drugs than prescribed by the vet as they can have adverse effects.
Cat scratches and bites can be painful but they pose a greater threat too. Cats can have nasty germs and bacteria which cause infections which can be life threatening such as sepsis or Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) - a bacterial infection. If you have to handle an aggressive cat then consider wearing gardening gloves and a thick jumper. Keep the cat away from your face and try to handle them in a calm and firm manner. Cats will pick up on your stress, so the calmer you are the better it will go.
Get pet insurance
Pet insurance will mean you have less to worry about when your moggy is giving you enough stress. Check carefully what your policy covers and make sure your vet knows that the animal is insured.