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Safe travels for feline patients
Instruct clients how to get to the veterinary hospital safely and without distress.
>Put blankets and toys the cat likes in the carrier and to ensure that the crate is an everyday event. If cats learn to go into their crates daily for a treat, they will not fear them.
>Once the cat is comfortable going into and staying in the carrier to nap, eat or play with a toy, close the door and allow the cat to stay there for gradually increasing periods of time. Ensure that the cat is never stressed or distressed-and remind clients that a scared animal can see a closed crate as a trap. As for each of these steps, reward cats verbally and with a food treat when calm, and then periodically when they stay calm.
>When the cat is willing to enter and leave a crate upon verbal request and can stay in a closed crate without distress, pick up the crate and carry it around. Put it down in different places and leave it for varying times. If you do this gradually enough the cat should not be distressed. And if you want to know if you are carrying the crate is way that is not dizzying or distressing to the cat, put a full glass of water on it. If it spills, you swung the carrier-and the cat.
>Finally, pick up and leave the carrier with a towel over it. Take the cat indoors and outdoors covered and uncovered, again working with the cat's tolerance and distress levels. If the cat is worried, back off a bit and gradually work up to more active environments. Clients who know that their cats will see dogs and other cats at a veterinary hospital should be encouraged to use this opportunity to work with exposures to other animals if there are no other animals at home.
>If the cat must go into a car, the clients must teach the cats to go into the car, and the crate must be secured in the car (seat belts, bungie cords, physical blocks or supports). Clients should first learn how to secure the crate without the cat in it. If the cat then is fine with all these steps the clients are good to go.
If clients have trouble with these steps-or staff have difficulty explaining them-consider recommending a specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine, a behavior consultant (iaabc.org) or a certified professional trainer who works with cats (ccpdt.org). And remember that crate use can be clicker-trained. This is a fun, underused technique that is ideal for shy, fearful or even less boisterous cats (wikihow.com, clickertraining.com).