Beyond the burrito: How to handle aggressive cats

October 19, 2018
Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB
Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Radosta is the owner of Florida Veterinary Behavior Service in West Palm Beach, Florida. She completed a residency in behavioral medicine at University of Pennsylvania where she received two national research awards. She has authored textbook chapters; writes a column for the Palm Beach Post and podcasts CE for VetGirl. She has published research papers on thyroid disease and clinician client communication and has lectured across the country and internationally. She is the behavior section editor for Small Animal Advances in Medicine and Surgery, sits on the American Animal Hospital Association Behavior Management Guidelines Task Force and the Fear Free Advisory Board.

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta shares tips for dealing with antagonistic tabbies.

Everyone dreads the worst-case-scenario cat-that hurricane of fur and claws that disrupts your day and may even draw blood. There's only one thing you can do: Show that kitty who's boss with brute force, right?

Of course we know better than that nowadays. And thankfully we have the likes of Fetch dvm360 conference speaker and Fear Free advocate Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB, to remind us of low-stress approaches to caring for cats who'd rather not be in your clinic. She recently gave us the following three pointers:

1. Lighten up your touch.

Regarding that use of force: Dr. Radosta urges you to go easy on the restraint. She says you need less than you think you do.

2. Use towels.

Make no mistake-she's not talking about a suffocating swaddle of material here.

"We lay two towels over the kitty, and then I bring my arms underneath, so they're tucked, but not in a tight, really constrictive burrito," she says.

This lets you move around the patient and still access whatever you need, such as a paw for a nail trim, Dr. Radosta suggests.

3. Let the owner stay in the exam room.

You don't need to hide procedures from the client, she says. Really?

Low-stress resources

Veterinary Medicine Essentials: Low-stress techniques.

Don't panic! A low-stress approach is easy and fun.

A low-stress handling algorithm: Key to happier visits and healthier pets.

"I know what you're thinking-you're saying, 'I don't want to pull blood on a cat with an owner there.' But having the owner present forces you to do it in a low-stress way," says Dr. Radosta.

Here's another benefit: Dr. Radosta points out that kitties are more comfortable with their owners nearby.

"Cats love their people," she says.

Watch this video to hear more in Dr. Radosta's own words:

You. Can. Do. This!

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