CATalyst Council Offers Tips on How to Get Veterinary Care for Cats Without Yowls, Hissing and Bared Claws

Saturday, March 20, 2010 Environmental Health
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LONG BEACH, Calif., March 19 The CATalyst Council held a press conference today to discuss new guidelines to help tackle a tough issue in veterinary care -- scared cats. The tips will help calm cats at the veterinary office and, as a result, improve the frequency and quality of veterinary care.

The CATalyst Council, the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association all recommend that cats should see their veterinarian at least once a year. Unfortunately, studies show that only about 28 percent of cat owners take their pet to the veterinarian that often. Among the top reasons cat owners cite for not taking their animal to the veterinarian more often is the stress it causes the animal.

"If we're advising people to get their cats into their veterinarian more often, then we should be able to tell them how to do that properly," says Dr. Tony Buffington, a professor at The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital and a cat behavior expert, who spoke at the press conference.

"The animal gets wound up and its temperature, heart rate and temperament are all un-interpretable for the veterinarian," Dr. Buffington explains. "I advise veterinarians, when working with a skittish cat in a pet carrier, to open the top of the carrier and work on the cat from above."

Dr. Buffington said that bright lights and noise at the veterinary office can make cats panicky, creating problems. He debated the myth that cats hide symptoms of illness.

"We really need to do a better job of teaching people what normal cat behavior is," Dr. Buffington says. "If every morning your cat is weaving between your legs for food, and one day it isn't... something is wrong."

Dr. Diane Eigner, CATalyst president and a feline veterinarian, explained at the press conference that there are a number of things that cat owners can do before a veterinary visit to make the appointment less stressful and more productive.

"With a little planning and training, cats can learn how to travel comfortably and safely in a carrier," Dr. Eigner says.

The CATalyst Council offered cat owners five guidelines, including:

For more information about the CATalyst Council, please visit For more information about cat behavioral wellness, please visit For more information about veterinary medicine, please visit

The CATalyst Council is a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations and corporations to champion the cat in light of troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that show an increase in the cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary visits for cats. For more information, visit

-- Make your cat travel-savvy. Get your cat used to traveling. Start them at a young age for your best results. -- Make the carrier your cat's "home away from home." Make it a comfortable resting, feeding or play location. Keep the transport carrier out and accessible in the home, not just when you're taking your cat somewhere. -- Let them play "peek-a-boo." Let your cat have a hiding place in the carrier by placing a towel or blanket from your home inside the carrier, and drape another one over part of the carrier. Using a familiar blanket or towel from home can also provide your cat some comfort while at the veterinary office. -- Mix it up. Think about it -- would you be happy getting in the car if every car trip meant a trip to the doctor's office? Mix in some fun trips, or maybe a social visit to the veterinary office just to get a treat or two. -- Travel light. If you don't feed your cat prior to travel, you'll make it less likely to get motion sickness. Plus, if it's a little bit hungry, your cat might be more interested in the treats your veterinarian has to offer, and it could make the visit more pleasant for your cat.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association

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