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How to have a successful first-time visit to the Vet with your cat.

Put yourself in their shoes

For too many kitties a visit to the vet can feel just like an alien abduction.

Cats are creatures of habit-- thriving in a predictable, stable routine. For a cat, vet days are extraordinary. On a seemingly normal day like any other-- everything your cat understands and knows turns upside down. They are whisked away by an alien space ship to be probed by aliens who look just like their human.

Stuffed into the dreaded plastic consoles ( stowed away the rest of the year) which immediately set off emergency alarms. How many cats run away and hide under the bed just as soon as the closet door holding their dreaded pet carrier is opened, every few years? Some freeze in a state of learned helplessness and others react by becoming too aggressive to handle.

Recognizing these responses for what they are--fear and stress, will help us to work on making their visits fear-free.

Be Proactive. Make the carrier your cat's safety den when she is young.

Get the kind whose top is easy to unlatch. Leave it out with the door open or take it off altogether, and leave it where she likes to hang out. Put in stuff with smells of you--If your kitten loves your socks, put them in the carrier. If she likes to sleep on top of your head, put that pillow or the pillow case in her carrier instead of the laundry. Spritz some kitty pheromone. Throw her favorite toys in it and some tasty treats.

Do not lock her in--let her go in and out at will. Let the carrier become a comfortable safety den instead of an alien abduction mobile.

For older kitties already too scared of their carriers talk to your vet about mood stabilizing sedatives and anxiety relieving drugs like gabapentin and xanax.

Vet Visit Essentials

Complete Medical records: Vaccines, de-worming, medications, surgeries. Medical invoices, we too often see-- lack findings, diagnostics, lab tests and treatments.

Ask the Vet List

Diet Optimal species- appropriate nutrition forms the cornerstone of disease prevention and is a crucial cost-cutting strategy. Cut out ingredient labels or take a picture from every container of food and treats to discuss with your veterinarian.

Vaccines. Kittens start their core vaccines called FVRCPC (feline virus rhinotracheitis, calici virus, panleukopenia ( distemper more like puppy parvo virus of cats) at six weeks. Boosters are needed every month until 12-16 weeks of age.

Some vaccines are boosted annually and others every three years.

FeLV (feline leukemia virus) & FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) test results on the kitten or her mother. Every kitten must be screened for these life threatening viruses before you become too super attached. If mom tested negative, it will save the kitten from being poked for blood to be tested and you will save some money.

If she or her mother tested negative-- consider vaccinating for FeLV. FIV vaccine is also available but it's benefits are equivocal--it isn't considered a core vaccine.

Parasite control. Whether internal worms, fleas or heart-worm are distributed in some geographical areas and not others. Your veterinarian will know which parasites and which medications are appropriate in your area.

Identification tags and microchips. Odds of finding a lost kitty who isn't microchipped are about one in three. Microchips are a great