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Often cats are upset from the ordeal of the basket and the car before they even reach the surgery. They are then confronted with other animals, and strange sounds and smells. Therefore we have come up with some tips on how to help.

Keep the cat basket where the cat can see it at all times. That way, when you do need to use it, getting it out is not a trigger for the cat to run. Place an old towel or T-shirt in the box to give it a familiar/secure smell. This should be replaced after each visit to prevent it from developing a ‘fear’ smell.

Top-opening cat baskets are much easier to use as you can lift the cat in and out. When putting your cat into the basket it is often helpful to hold both front legs with one hand and both back legs with the other. Some cats co-operate better when placed in the basket backwards so try and find what your cat prefers. Do not try to squeeze more than one cat into one basket as this may stress them even more.

Secure the basket properly in the car, the last thing your cat needs is for the carrier to roll over. Drive smoothly and have the radio on quietly. Using a towel to cover the carrier can help to de-stress the situation. When you arrive at the surgery if our waiting room is very busy with dogs it may be better to leave the cat in the car (providing the weather is not too hot), or speak to a member of staff as we are always happy to find somewhere quiet for your cat to wait.

When returning your cat home to a multi-cat household a few steps can be taken to help minimise stressful situations and aggressive behaviours. When first returning home leave the cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all the cats are reacting. Cats maintain their relationship by rubbing against each other to maintain their odour. You can use these pheromones to ease the introduction back into the household by rubbing around the cats face and chin area with your hand or a blanket and then smoothing the other cats with this. This can help provide a sense of familiarity.

To avoid this situation occurring we advise that you leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how the other cats react. If the cats seem calm and peaceful then let the returning cat out of the carrier. If you sense tension between the cats, or you have experienced aggression between the cats on previous home-comings, then it is recommended to return the cat to a separate room to avoid any potential aggressive fall-outs. Provide the returning cat with food, water and a litter box for a minimum of 24 hours. This will allow time for the cat to regain the more familiar smell of home.

If you still struggle, speak to a nurse at reception and they can recommend pheromone sprays and natural calming tablets to help your cat feel less stressed next time they need to come.

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