Car­ri­ers are key in get­ting cats to the vet

The Morning Call - - LIFE - Cathy M. Rosen­thal Cathy M. Rosen­thal is an an­i­mal ad­vo­cate, au­thor, colum­nist and pet ex­pert. Send your ques­tions, sto­ries and tips to [email protected]­pun­dit.com. In­clude your name, city and state. You can fol­low her @cathym­rosen­thal.

Dear Cathy: We have a shel­ter cat named Chechee, now 7, who is very skit­tish and fright­ened ev­ery mo­ment of the day. It is im­pos­si­ble to cud­dle with her and we can barely pet her be­cause she runs away and hides. We would like to have her ex­am­ined by a vet­eri­nar­ian, but we can’t pick her up, let alone put her in a car­rier.

All of her needs (food, clean lit­ter box) are met. We are at our wit’s end. She has bit­ten my wife once when we at­tempted to pick her up. She is not an­gry, just skit­tish, and we can’t fig­ure out how to solve this is­sue. Please help. — Herb, Welling­ton, Florida Dear Herb: While cats out­num­ber dogs in the U.S., cats of­ten don’t visit the vet­eri­nar­ian as of­ten as ca­nines do. It’s not be­cause cat own­ers don’t care, but be­cause even the sweet­est and mildest cat can be­come a bit dif­fi­cult when it comes time to go to the vet’s of­fice.

To re­duce Chechee’s over­all skit­tish­ness and build her con­fi­dence in the home (it’s never too late), put fe­line pheromone plug-ins around the house and give her lots of places to hide, like boxes or bas­kets, or a place to climb, like a tall cat tree.

As for get­ting Chechee (or any chal­leng­ing cat) to the vet­eri­nar­ian, here are a few things you can try:

First, get a big­ger car­rier. Cats have a way of mak­ing them­selves big­ger when they are scared, and try­ing to push them into small car­ri­ers is a night­mare for both the pet and owner. This is the mo­ment when most peo­ple are bit­ten and scratched. Buy a medium-sized car­rier and put a blan­ket or towel in­side to make it cozy. (Top-open car­ri­ers are some­times eas­ier for cats that can be held but don’t want to go into a side-en­try box.)

Sec­ond, leave the car­rier in the house so the cat can go in and out as she pleases. Most peo­ple put the car­rier in the garage and bring it out only when it’s time to go to the vet. Cats are smart; they know the car­rier means a trip to the vet. Give the car­rier new mean­ing by feed­ing her in it, leav­ing treats in it and spray­ing some pheromones in it.

I know Chechee won’t let you pick her up, but the next bit of advice would be to wrap her in a towel be­fore putting her in the car­rier. Cats feel safer like this, and it’s much bet­ter for you if her claws and paws are un­der wraps.

If these things don’t work, talk to your vet­eri­nar­ian about med­i­cat­ing her. You won’t be able to give her any­thing orally, but maybe the vet­eri­nar­ian can pre­scribe some medicine that can be crushed and put into her food.

Fi­nally, if all else fails, con­sider rent­ing or buy­ing a hu­mane an­i­mal trap of­ten used for feral cats. (They are fairly in­ex­pen­sive to buy on­line.) Skip feed­ing her the night be­fore the vet visit so she’s hun­gry. Drape the top of the trap with a towel, put the food in­side and leave the door open. Dur­ing the night, she will go into the trap to eat, and the door will close on her. Keep the towel on the trap and drive her to the vet first thing in the morn­ing. The vet can med­i­cate her through the trap and then ex­am­ine her and vac­ci­nate her while she is se­dated.

Dear Cathy: In re­gard to Judi from Oak­land Park, Fla., who has dogs that some­times pee in the house, I once had a lab named Belle who would al­ways go on the grass, but if I couldn’t clean it up im­me­di­ately, she would walk the perime­ter of the yard al­most on tip­toes to avoid any soiled ar­eas. When the ar­eas were to­tally clean, there was never a prob­lem. — Pat, Wad­ing River, New York

Dear Pat: Cer­tainly, if peo­ple don’t clean up their dog’s waste in the yard, their dog may look else­where to re­lieve them­selves. Your Belle sounds like a very par­tic­u­lar dog, and I am glad you were as­tute enough to man­age her fas­tid­i­ous be­hav­ior. In most cases, though, when a house­trained dog starts go­ing in the house, it’s be­cause they need to be re­trained and in­cen­tivized to go out­side. But it’s al­ways wise to keep the yard free of waste.

DREAM­STIME

Leave a car­rier with the door open in your home so your cat can get used to its pres­ence.

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