Dear Christopher Cat: My cat Gryffin is a pussycat at home, but he turns into a lion when it’s time to go to the vet. He fights me when I put him in his carrier, he yowls during the car ride, and he’s aggressive with the veterinary staff. Any suggestions?
Christopher Responds: First, accustom Gryffin to his carrier. Line it with a soft towel and leave it in a quiet corner of your home so Gryffin gets comfortable sleeping in it. If he doesn’t use the carrier, entice him by placing treats or his food bowl inside.
About 30 minutes before you load Gryffin into his carrier for his veterinary appointment, spray the towel and the inside of the carrier with Feliway. Spray a second towel with Feliway, and use it to cover the carrier in the car and the hospital reception area.
Feliway is a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromone that cats deposit when they rub their faces on furniture, doorways and their favorite people. This odorless substance promotes calmness in cats.
If these steps aren’t enough to make Gryffin comfortable at the animal hospital, ask your veterinarian about giving him gabapentin at home before the appointment. It’s easily mixed with canned food or given inside a treat. Research in cats has shown this medication is effective at decreasing stress and struggling during veterinary appointments.
Remember that you can always contact a house call veterinarian for routine health care needs. But Gryffin may still need to visit the animal hospital for x-rays and other special care.