IN THE YEARS between my writing Cats For Dummies and co-authoring Your Cat: The Owner's Manual, a huge amount of work has been done to make veterinary practices more "feline-friendly."
With wellness checkups for my cats, Ilario and Mariposa, on the calendar, I reviewed my plan of action and prepared for V-Day. Everything went perfectly. The cats traveled quietly in their carriers, were relaxed if not exactly happy at the veterinarian's, passed their wellness exams with flying colors and settled back into their routines at home without a hiccup. One even had blood drawn, which in previous visits would have meant at least two with puncture wounds - the cat and one of the humans involved.
What did I do?
* I started by putting the carriers out two days early and setting them in the room where the cats like sunning themselves. That meant no running when the carriers appeared. My carriers are also roomy and sturdy, and in the exam room the top can be removed and the cat can remain in the "bed" half that remains.
* On the day of the visit, about an hour before we had to leave, I sprayed folded towels with Feliway - a substance that mimics a natural calming pheromone - and put them in the crates.
* I hadn't fed the cats so they'd be more interested in treats, and so the one who always throws up wouldn't (she didn't).
* I'd closed the door on them in their sunning room so that they couldn't hide elsewhere in the house.
* About a half-hour before we needed to leave, I put the cats in their carriers, put the carriers on the bed and put towels with more Feliway on top of them. I left those towels in place when I put the carriers in the car and secured them with the seat belts.
When I got to my veterinarian's, we were put immediately in a quiet room so my cats didn't have to sit around other animals, especially dogs. An expert technician allowed the cats to wander and relax, or to just sit in their crates if that made them more comfortable. There was lots of praise, treats and petting.
While Ilario wasn't happy to be there, he never reacted violently out of fear. He even tolerated a nail clipping and the spot application of flea control. As for Mariposa, she never stopped purring.
Cats should never be treated as if they are small dogs, and I'm so glad to see so many veterinary practices becoming feline-friendly.
You'll find guidelines for pet owners and veterinary practices at the CATalyst Council's website, catalystcouncil.org.