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Taking your cat to the vet can be stressful for you and your feline. This, in turn, can mean fewer visits to the vet and bigger risks for your cat’s health. Fortunately, more and more veterinary practices are focusing on the emotional impact vet visits have on pets — particularly on scared or anxious pets.
Fear Free veterinary care is a major movement sweeping through the veterinary profession. The goal is to reduce animals’ fear of veterinary visits by employing strategies that start at home, including training and medication, and extend through the pet’s visit to the clinic or hospital. Veterinarians and staff at Fear Free clinics work with pet owners to take the stress out of medical care — for pets and people.
There are some simple strategies you can use to determine if a clinic adheres to the Fear Free approach. Start by asking your current clinic how you can work together to alleviate your cat’s anxiety, from helping you prepare your cat for her appointment to keeping her stress levels low throughout the entire visit, including any treatments or procedures. Ask about the staff's strategies for interacting with anxious cats, particularly in relation to handling and medication. Another option is to search for a veterinarian or practice that is Fear Free certified.
If your cat is particularly anxious in specific situations (having her paws touched, for example), it’s helpful to relay such information to the staff, so they can take extra care in their approach. By the same token, if there are certain ways of being handled, petted or examined that your cat either responds to or resists, share that with the clinic staff.
Be clear with the staff about your cat's specific issues, as well as any strategies that have — or have not — worked in the past. Ideally, you would do this before your cat’s visit, but don’t be afraid to speak up during the appointment.
Once the clinic staff knows your concerns, they may be able to take other measures as well, such as scheduling your appointment during slow periods or booking back-to-back appointments for your cat, so the exam can be performed at a more leisurely pace. This type of arrangement can help alleviate your cat’s anxiety and is well worth any extra cost you may incur.
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