The Adventures of Captain Krinkles at The Cat Clinic – Getting Ready For The First Trip To The Clinic
At 9 weeks old Krinkles came into the clinic for his examination and his first set of vaccinations. For most kittens this would be the first trip to the clinic. Now in Krinkles case he had already been spending his days coming to the clinic while he was being bottle fed so for him it was just a fun trip to where all his second mommy’s were. Many kittens can find this a pretty scary experience.
For most families the perception is that a “good trip” to the veterinary hospital starts when you walk in the front door but it actually starts the very first day a kitten comes into his new home. One of the biggest limitations when a veterinarian is doing a physical exam is the cat or kittens stress level and how they respond to that stress. Especially in kittens we can easily work with them and train them to minimize this stress. If your cat is older you can do the same techniques to retrain them but your pace should be much slower.
Little Krinkles started getting used to being handled right from day one. This was done by slowly stroking his body, especially the sensitive spots. Instead of going straight for the feet we would start at the shoulder and over the course of several days we would slowly work our way further down the legs until he was ok with having his toes touched. Unfortunately because of all of the medications required for his eye he is a little bit shy of having that area of his head handled but he loves having his ears stroked.
Remember to always keep your sessions short and positive, praising your kitten as you go along. For training purposes a positive session that lasts less than a minute is more productive then a 5 minute session with your kitten fidgeting or trying to get away. By doing this kind of handling before he came to the hospital for his physical exam when Dr.Suderman went to look into his ears and mouth it was not associated with any fear. He was so comfortable we had to distract him from playing with a bit of food.
Carriers can also be a big source of fear and stress for cats. In most cases the carrier you purchase when your kitten is little is the same one he will have right into their senior years. With this in mind you should purchase one for the size your cat is going to become. We recommend the hard plastic carriers with a top and bottom that will easily come apart. These carriers allow for easy access but also provide some protection for your cat in case of an accident.
We continue to make sure Krinkle’s carrier is left out in the room at home all the time with a blanket in it and we will often find him in there curled up with his piggy having a nap. In the beginning you can place treats or your kitten’s favorite toys in the carrier to encourage them to go into it on their own. When you get ready to make that first trip in the car make sure they have something familiar in the carrier with them. This can be a blanket they have been using for a few days or a favorite toy.
If your kitten is especially timid you may also want to familiarize them with the sounds and feel of the car before the big day. Keep the same idea in mind as when you started handling, short but positive is best. The first couple of times you may only be able to open the front door, then the next time get in the car, then the next turn on the car but don’t go anywhere and so on and so on.
For his next adventure Krinkles will be demonstrating how to keep the veterinarian on their toes during a physical exam.
Written by Angelina Johnstone RVT