Conquering the Carrier and Other Feline Veterinary Visit Barriers

We can tell from the support of our community members and the care they show their pets that they do not intend to neglect the health of their pets by not seeking preventative veterinary care. Actually we know that many owners feel that these visits can do more harm than good by placing unnecessary stress on their pet and choose to keep them home for these reasons. In order to keep both you and your pet happy we have compiled a list of suggestions that may aide in decreasing the stress of veterinary visits.

To begin, we suggest finding a veterinarian that is best suited to the needs of you and your cat. There are a wide variety of veterinary services and specialties and finding a veterinarian who fits the specific needs of your cat may help ease some of your pet’s anxiety. Cats who are particularly nervous about interacting with dogs may benefit from a feline only practice where they will not risk the smells and sights of encountering another species. However, if you’d like the ease of being able to take both your cat and dog to the same clinic, many now offer separate waiting and exam rooms for dogs and cats in order to decrease these scents and interactions. Additionally, a handful of area vets have taken additional steps to demonstrate their dedication to improving the quality of feline care by becoming approved by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. A list of these veterinarians can be found by visiting

Once you have made your appointment you can start laying the groundwork for a successful vet visit.

One of the biggest mistakes we make as cat owners is only bringing out our cat’s carrier when it is time to go to the vet. This may cause our cat to associate and develop a strong aversion to their carrier. In order to make the carrier a positive place for your cat, you can bring it out several weeks before your scheduled visit and allow them to acclimate themselves to the carrier on their terms. Placing a blanket they like or an item of clothing with your scent on it may help to entice your cat to enter the carrier on their own. Another option is to spray these items with a synthetic feline pheromone spray such as Feliway, which can be found in most major pet stores. This pheromone helps produce a calming effect on most cats and may aide in decreasing anxiety associated with the carrier. Additionally, your pet’s favorite toys, treats, or catnip may help entice them into the carrier and help them to feel safe and comfortable while inside the carrier.

Once your pet has learned that they are safe inside their carrier you can start taking them for practice drives in your car to get them used to the routine of leaving the house in their carrier. At first this may only be a trip around the block but as your cat’s comfort level increases, so can your travel time. These trail runs will also help your cat associate riding in the car with positive experiences as well as veterinary visits.

Now that you have successfully carrier and car trained your cat you are finally ready for your veterinary visit. To help acclimate your pet to these new surroundings it is best to leave them inside the carrier while in the waiting room to help limit the stimuli they are receiving. Cats naturally instinct is to run and hide and this could be a very dangerous situation if they are in an unfamiliar location and escape the office. It is best to comfort them through the door of their carrier until you enter the exam room. Once you are in the exam room, per the veterinary staff’s instruction you may remove your cat from it’s carrier and allow them to acclimate to their new environment. In order to ease any anxiety felt by your pet at this time you may bring their favorite treats or brushes if they enjoy being groomed and allow the veterinary staff to meet your pet using these items. This will ensure that your pet is getting positive reinforcement that they will accept throughout this interaction and will increase the likelihood that your veterinary visit will be successful.

These tips may also prove to be useful to owners attempting to make the trip with their pet to our low cost spay and neuter clinic. Pets undergoing surgery should not consume any food, including treats, prior to surgery per the instructions received regarding your pet’s spay or neuter surgery.

If you need help finding a veterinarian in greater Kalamazoo, try the new Resource Directory on our website!

Caring for Cats in the Dog Days of Summer

Cat under car (small)As we can tell from the success of our feral cat trap and release, spay and neuter program our community is bursting at the seams with feral cats and generous community members willing to help them. In addition to these community cats we also know that many owned cats spend time outside and could use a little extra TLC during these brutal summer months. In order to help you continue to provide the best care for your furry friends we have complied a list of tried and true tips for getting outdoor cats through the dog days of summer.

The Best Part of Waking up, is Dry Food in Your Cup

In order to ensure that these cats receive the freshest food you may want to consider switching to dry food for the summer months if you haven’t already. Feeding dry food will help prevent spoilage and will be less likely to attract insects. Placing the food dish inside of a larger shallow tray can also deter insects. Filling this tray, such as one you would use under a flowerpot, with an inch of water will help prevent pests from climbing into the food bowl. Additionally, you can place a ring of baking soda around your food bowls to deter insects from walking toward the food bowls.

Especially during these hot months it is a great idea to stick to a “30 minute rule” when feeding cats outdoors. By placing the food out for only thirty minutes before rechecking it you are making sure that they are receiving fresh food and that you aren’t attracting any unwanted visitors to your yard.

Let’s Head on Down to the Watering Hole

Just as we need more water as the temperature climbs, so do our feline companions. Cats are naturally prone to dehydration and aren’t as ready to drink as their canine counterparts so providing plenty of water sources will help encourage them to stay hydrated when they need it most. Using deep, narrow bowls and placing them in the shade will help decrease the rate of evaporation and ensure that these cats have plenty of water to help cool them down.

Home is Where the Hammock is

When it comes to thermoregulation, cats really got the short end of the stick. Imagine sitting in your back yard on a hot summer day, wearing a fur coat, and only being able to sweat through your palms and the soles of your feet. You’d overheat easily and maybe even dangerously so if you didn’t find a shady spot quickly. Any extra shade you can lend to these cats will be graciously appreciated. While bushes and trees provide excellent spots to get out of the sun, a patio umbrella, hammock, or canopy will do the trick as well. Any increase in shade will help decrease potentially life-threatening conditions such as dehydration and heat stroke for your feline visitors.

Safe and Timely Trap and Release

We love that we are able to offer cost effective spay and neuter surgeries for our community’s feral cats and greatly appreciate our community members that help us by trapping, releasing, and caring for these cats. In order to make this endeavor as safe as possible for all parties this summer we suggest you trap these cats in the late evening or early morning before your appointment to ensure that they do not get too hot while inside of the trap. Also being conscious of the surface on which you are placing the trap will help to ensure a safe experience for both you and the cat. Placing traps on surfaces that heat easily, such as asphalt, may result in burned paws and increase their risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

We appreciate your help in controlling the population of and caring for the community cats of Kalamazoo. We hope that these tips will help you to continue to provide the best care to your feline friends.

The Kalamazoo Humane Society can take in feral cats on Thursdays from 7:30-8:00AM.  For $40.00, each cat will be altered, get a 1yr Rabies vaccine, and be ear-tipped.  For more about this program, please visit our website here.

KHS Blog Authors

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