Is my puppy scared of fireworks?

Puppy scared Of Fireworks

Dogs can learn to be completely at ease with loud noises if they are gradually accustomed to them early in life. The aim is to habituate them to the point where they can remain relaxed when hearing loud sudden noises, such as they might experience on a day out at a show or when at home on firework night.

Start early
Puppies should be exposed gradually to recordings of the noise of fireworks and other loud noises. These recordings should be played quietly at first, so the puppy is not startled and gradually increased over time, taking care not to worry them in any way. The aim should be a calm acceptance rather than only just tolerating.

Use an ADAPTIL Junior collar throughout the process, it is clinically proven to help puppies learn better and faster.

Little and often
Frequency is key. The more the sounds are presented, the easier the puppy will accept them as part of daily life and the less notice they will take of them later in life. If done well, this early training will prepare them for a lifetime of worry-free celebrations.

Prevention is better than a cure
Prevention is much better than cure when it comes to noise sensitivities as habituation to sounds takes far less time than a treatment programme later in life. It is also much less stressful for the animal too. It is not difficult to do, it just needs to be done, preferably being started by the breeder and continued by the new owner until the puppy is mature.

Using an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser or ADAPTIL Junior collar will help your dog cope with the loud noises.
For further support, use ADAPTIL Express to calm your dog 2 hours before the anticipated event.

Using Feliway for my cat

What is FELIWAY Optimum?

Is your purrfect pal already a fan of FELIWAY? Kitty parents will be excited to hear about our brand new product!

FELIWAY Optimum helps cats with more signs of stress, in more situations, and calms cats better than ever. After the discovery of a new Feline Pheromone Complex FELIWAY Optimum has been designed to enhance your cat’s calmness around the home and help them adapt to any changes that may happen on a day-to-day basis.

It is an innovative, new Feline Pheromone Complex, that conveys more impactful messages than ever before; supported by exciting clinical evidence that it outperforms existing pheromones and visibly helps cats with more signs of stress in more situations to provide harmony in your home! FELIWAY Optimum is a new FELIWAY® innovation for owners wanting the very best for their kitty.

Should I use FELIWAY Optimum for my Cat?

We know that cats are creatures of habit and find changes around the home challenging, but as we live in busy changing environments, we may forget the impact that some of the stresses of modern life can have on our feline friends. Luckily, FELIWAY Optimum can help.

What might be normal day-to-day changes for humans, can sometimes be unsettling for your cat. New visitors to the home might send your feline friend scooting out of the room to find their favorite hiding place; they might get confused when you redecorate a room or move furniture around – don’t forget they have left their scent in their favorite places and you might change this with one sweep of a paint brush! New pets or even a new baby arriving in the house can also make your cat feel vulnerable, anxious and affect your relationship with them.  Cat Hiding FELIWAY Optimum

Your house is your home, but it’s your cat’s territory too. They have worked hard to make it their own by marking it with their scent, discovering their own perches, secret hiding spots and establishing a routine!

Kitties like control and sometimes modern life can come into conflict with your cat’s essential needs! Do they have to share their space with other cats? Are there loud noises that sometimes spook them? Do other commitments mean you’re not always home at the same time every day? If so, FELIWAY Optimum can help!

cats fighting FELIWAY Optimum

If your feline seems unsociable, unpredictable or stressed, you’re not sure why, and you have checked with the vet that your kitty is healthy, they may be reacting to changes around the house. Whatever the cause, FELIWAY Optimum helps cats with more signs of stress, in more situations, and calms them better than ever.

Why FELIWAY Optimum?

Cat’s naturally produce pheromone markers to show that they feel comfortable or at home in a space, and to let other cats know that this is their territory! Our new product FELIWAY Optimum contains the most advanced Feline Pheromone Complex yet!

By providing an environment that your cat will constantly feel safe and secure in, you will make your cat happier, less anxious, more sociable and enhance your relationship with your feline friend – and bring harmony to your cats if they’re in conflict. FELIWAY Optimum provides a total serenity solution with a new pheromone discovery for advanced comfort and calm!


Let FELIWAY Optimum become your secret support and learn how to make home changes easier for your cat – and calm them better than ever.

FELIWAY Optimum can be used with cats of all ages. Used continuously, it will provide permanent happiness, serenity and comfort to your cat.  Just plug it into the room your cat uses most, to help them feel more relaxed when faced with changes around the home.

Pain explained

Cat yawning.

Why is my cat biting me?

Ouch! Cat bites can be very unpleasant and always best avoided. As natural skilled predators, cats have sharp teeth and a firm bite. A common question from pet owners is why their cat indulges in this behaviour towards their owner… and how they can avoid it! Bites from pet cats are not uncommon, but interestingly are often not a sign of true aggression.

Kitten biting

Kittens are naturally playful and mischievous, but are also budding hunters, which is a dangerous combination when it comes to nipping. Play biting is very important in kitten development. Alongside learning how to communicate and play with their litter mates and other cats, they are also acquiring vital hunting skills. Teething pain will also feature. This means there is a triple whammy of reasons for them to try out their teeth on any unsuspecting object… including you!

However, that doesn’t mean you have to just let them bite! Never play games with your kitten that involves them chasing and biting at your fingers and toes.

Play biting

Although strongest in kittens, the need to play continues in adult cats. This is easy to forget and therefore easy not to indulge. Indoor cats especially who have no access to practice stalking and pouncing behaviours in the garden may start using you, your furniture and your clothing as ‘prey’. As innate predators due to their carnivorous diet, behaviours such as biting, clawing and pouncing come naturally to cats. Encouraging these play behaviours is a good thing to satisfy your cat’s needs, but care must be taken not to encourage aggression.

The easiest way to navigate this fine line is to have lots of suitable toys available, make sure you take time for dedicated play sessions with your cat, but always allow them to ‘win’ before they get too frustrated. Let them catch and ‘kill’ the toy before they get so overstimulated that they may start biting anything that gets in their way. Remember, keep hands and feet well away and try to stop games before your cat gets too wound up.

Sudden biting when petting

The first thing to emphasise is: don’t take it personally! This is just a form of communication from your cat, it is not intended as aggression in the true sense. It has been shown that repetitive petting of sensitive areas, such as the base of the tail in cats, can lead to an over stimulation and ‘excitement’ effect in cats. Which can lead to adverse sudden behaviours such as biting. In essence, your cat is just telling you that they have had enough of the stroking, now.

Although commonly described as being unprovoked, most cats will actually give some warning that they are reaching their petting threshold. These signs are often just quite subtle. It can be very peaceful and soothing to stroke your cat’s beautifully soft fur over and over, but it is worth keeping an eye on their reactions. Small signs such as a gentle swish of the tail or a flattening of the ears may give you the heads up that they are becoming overstimulated and may react negatively soon. Learning to read your cat’s body language is really useful here. Behaviour can be quite variable between cats so a bit of time observing your particular feline will be needed.

Love bites

Some cats may gently nibble or bite their owners as a sign of affection. It is thought to be reminiscent of how a mother cat will groom her kittens with small bites and is more common in cats who have had litters. This is not usually a problem form of biting, but if the mother cat is a little too enthusiastic in their efforts, gently removing yourself from their ministrations is usually sufficient to deter them.

Aggressive biting

The most concerning form of biting is the true aggressive, intentioned bite. Cat bites can be deep and serious, and often get infected due to the bacteria cats carry in their mouths. This form of biting is often accompanied by aggressive body language from the cat:

  • hissing
  • spitting
  • defensive posturing, such as an arched back and fluffed tail.

The best way to avoid aggressive bites from cats is to learn to read these warning signs and stop doing whatever pre-empted this reaction. Try and avoid situations which can cause defensive fear, such as trying to pull them off furniture or being cornered without an escape route.

If you are bitten, wash the wound thoroughly and seek medical advice. Do not punish your cat – they use biting as an extreme form of communication when they feel they have no other option. They will not understand any punishment given, and in fact, it may only worsen certain behaviours. If your cat bites frequently, or you are struggling to recognise why, seek advice from a qualified feline behaviourist.

Know your cat!

Hopefully this post will have helped some understanding of why cats may bite, and how you can help prevent it. Remember to get to know your cat’s body language and preferences… Then provide plenty of suitable toys for them to play roughly with (not fingers or toes!). Above all, remain consistent: allowing cute nibbles to your arm but shouting when they nip your ankles is confusing! Learn to read your cat, and give them consistency in return and your relationship will be strong, loving – and bite-free!


Rabbit Vaccination

Does my rabbit need vaccinations?

Rabbits need vaccinations to protect against myxomatosis, Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease (R(V)HD) and a new strain of R(V)HD – R(V)HD2 – all of which are often fatal and cause intense suffering to rabbits. Vaccinate all your rabbits to stop deadly diseases.

There are different vaccines you can get for your rabbits.

Combined vaccines
Combined vaccines offer annual protection against both myxomatosis and R(V)HD. Rabbits can be vaccinated with this from five weeks of age.

A single separate vaccine is required to protect against R(V)HD2. Rabbits can be vaccinated with this from 10 weeks of age.

A vaccine that protects against all three
An annual vaccine is now available which protects against myxomatosis, R(V)HD1 and R(V)HD2 in one dose and can be given from five weeks old. A second separate vaccination for R(V)HD2 is not required.

This new vaccine may not be suitable if your rabbit has previously been vaccinated against myxomatosis but not R(V)HD2. Speak to us to find out which vaccination schedule will work best for your rabbit.

Vaccines are essential as there are no treatments
Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments for these diseases, and so vaccinations really are essential. Get veterinary advice about the most suitable vaccination course and best ages to vaccinate.

Prevent and Protect

  • Give regular boosters throughout your rabbit’s life; see your vet to arrange this.
  • Controlling insects may reduce infection risk.
  • Deter flies and mosquitoes, for example by using insect-proof screens.
  • Ensure your home and all pets are treated for fleas as advised by your vet.
  • Fleas from cats and dogs can infect rabbits.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect your rabbits’ enclosure and any areas they access, using a rabbit-safe disinfectant.
  • Change bedding and litter regularly. Never use housing or bedding from any rabbits who could have had these infections.
  • Prevent contact with affected domestic rabbits and all wild rabbits. Don’t allow your rabbits to go into any areas where they’ve been.

A virus spread by blood-sucking insects such as fleas, mites or mosquitoes and is widespread in British wild rabbits.
It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Early symptoms include – puffy swellings around the face, ears and or eyes which can cause blindness. The swellings can also affect the anus and or genitals. This often progresses to a high fever. Eating and drinking becomes increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, the disease is often fatal with death occurring within 10-14 days. Occasionally myxomatosis is more prolonged – multiple lumps appear.

How Myxomatosis spreads

  • By blood-sucking insects
  • Contact between infected rabbits
  • Spread via contaminated objects or the environment for example – via bedding, hutches, grass, feed bowls, carriers, clothing, shoes etc.

Can you treat Myxomatosis?
There is no specific treatment, and unfortunately, recovery is rare. This means that euthanasia is often the kindest option for infected rabbits. Regular vaccines are therefore essential. Although the vaccine does not prevent transmission in all cases, vaccinated rabbits experience milder forms of the disease and recovery rates are good with prompt veterinary care.

Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease (R(V)HD)

  • Prevalent in Britain’s wild rabbits.
  • Extremely serious causing high fever/internal bleeding/liver disease.
  • Unfortunately, the disease is almost always fatal.
  • Pet rabbits are often found dead with blood-stained fluid at their mouth and nose, or there may be no visible signs (cause of death only confirmed by post-mortem).
  • Doesn’t affect rabbits under six weeks but causes severe disease in older rabbits.

How R(V)HD spreads

  • Rabbit-rabbit contact
  • Spread via contaminated objects or the environment
  • Insects

Can you treat R(V)HD?

There is no effective treatment, so vaccination is essential.

Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (R(V)HD2)

  • R(V)HD2 was detected in France in 2010 and has been in the UK since 2013 with confirmed cases seen across the country.
  • R(V)HD2 has a lower mortality rate than R(V)HD, but often the only signs seen can be sudden death.
  • Unlike R(V)HD1, rabbits of all ages can be affected.

How R(V)HD2 spreads

  • Rabbit-rabbit contact
  • Spread via contaminated objects or the environment
  • Insects

Can you treat R(V)HD2?

There is no specific treatment, and although some rabbits can recover from infection it is fatal in many cases. Vaccination is therefore essential.


We highly recommend vaccinating rabbits as well as regular preventative treatment. Our Well Pet Club helps spread the cost of this with a monthly direct debit for only £9.95.

Adopting older dogs

We take a look at why adopting an older dog could be the right decision when it comes to bringing a new pet into your home.

When considering getting a dog, many people will have an ideal scenario pictured in their heads.

Often it will involve a cute-as-a-button puppy running around their garden, being mischievous and providing boisterous fun for the family.

Yet, older dogs can bring a lot to the party too. They often take a lot less training which may suit your lifestyle more than a puppy.

Why adoption?

Regardless of a dog’s age, adopting them from a rescue centre or a dog shelter to give them a good home is a brilliant thing to do.

There’s a common misconception that animals are given up for adoption because of behavioural issues, but often a change in circumstance for owners can result in an elderly dog being given to a rehoming centre. We unfortunately hear all too often that adopting an older dog is a “financial risk”. We cannot stress the need for pet insurance enough and most insurers will cover an older rescue dog.

How does an adult dog deal with a new owner?

The key to welcoming a new dog is letting him take his time. Dogs have a naturally inquisitive nature, so it shouldn’t be long before you can start to see your dog taking an interest in you, his new best friend.

Dogs are conditioned to make humans the centre of their world. If that person changes, it’s naturally traumatic for the dog, but it will learn to love again.

How long a dog takes to readjust depends on how it was brought up. For example, a dog that was used to different sitters, family members or even households may find it easier to slot into a new home, compared with a dog that only ever had one owner.

The benefits of rehoming an elderly pet

Older dogs for rehoming are likely to be well trained and have a wealth of experience with day-to-day life in a human world. Oldies are likely to know how to behave around people, are good on walks and get along with other dogs. They’re also calmer than high-energy puppies.

Older dogs require less training

Older dogs will already be toilet-trained and will have mastered basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ – saving you the energy and time spent training a puppy, which can take months!

Older dogs are often calmer than puppies

Dogs generally slow down with old age, so although they may not be able to take part in very energetic play or long walks, they will still enjoy a gentle game of fetch and a short stroll in the park.

If you have young children, a less energetic and boisterous dog may be more suitable. Plus, an older dog will already have their adult teeth, which leads to less household destruction compared with their puppy counterparts.

You can still teach an old dog new tricks!

Although they may not be as energetic as a younger dog, they still have the potential to keep learning and adapting just like puppies.

Older dogs have the ability to focus for longer periods of time, so if you’re worried about training them to your lifestyle, they can often be even easier to teach than younger dogs.

Older dogs aren’t necessarily ‘problem dogs’ as some people think

Older dogs are handed into rehoming centres due to a variety of reasons, including allergies, death of their owner, a new baby, loss of job, a move or change in work schedule. These dogs need homes just as much as younger dogs and make a loyal, fun and wonderful pet!

Older dogs are fully grown

You know exactly what you’re getting in terms of size and temperament – rather than guessing with a puppy.

Adopting an older dog is a wonderful opportunity for you to welcome a new member of the family and can be an incredibly fulfilling experience, while offering a pet a second chance for a happy life.

Of course – we are not saying pick an older dog and not a puppy. We are simply saying, look at your circumstance and base your decision upon if a puppy or a rescue dog suits your current situation and consider future situations.

How to pet your cat properly

How to Pet a Cat Properly

Cats are elegant, enigmatic animals. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that there are right and wrong ways to pet a cat.

Many of us are in the dark about how to properly pet our feline companions. Given that one of the best ways to communicate and bond with your cat is through touch, such knowledge is invaluable for moggie mums and dads.

We take a look at how to successfully approach petting your cat…

Understanding cat affection

First things first: not all cats are the same. Some cats love human contact, others may react aggressively to unwanted physical attention.

Interaction with people is something they learn during a relatively short period – between two and seven weeks old. As such, our characteristics are also important in determining how cats show affection; personality and gender, the regions of their body we touch, and how we generally handle them are all believed to be contributing factors.

Correctly interpreting your cat’s behaviour

Cat behaviour is a complex process that can be difficult to discern at times. For instance, if your cat approaches you, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be petted. Their meowing may simply be letting you know it’s time for food or play.

Rubbing up against or leaning on you are the clearest signs that being petted is probably desired.

What to do when petting your cat

For starters, you should always be gentle. Let them come to you and respect their personal space and boundaries. It’s all about building trust and sharing a loving relationship, which is one of the best parts of having a pet. Once that bond is made, you can then focus on learning where your cat likes being petted most of all.

Popular petting zones include:

  • The base of the chin
  • The base of the ears
  • On the cheeks, behind the whiskers
  • The base of the tail (lightly!)

Use a combination of soft finger glides and light scratches to keep your cat happy while petting them. You should also ensure they are comfortable and respond accordingly if they seem to be favouring one area or technique over another.

How not to pet your cat

Cats know what they like and what they want when you’re petting them – and they will display obvious signs of dislike or tension if you go about it the wrong way. These include:

  • Actively trying to move away
  • Staying quiet (no longer purring or rubbing)
  • Bursts of over-grooming
  • Rippling or twitching skin, usually along their back
  • Flattened or rotated ears
  • Biting, swiping or batting your hand away with their paw

If you notice these occurrences when petting your cat, a change of tact is in order; however if this behaviour continues despite you making positive changes, as this could signal an underlying medical issue. We would always recommend an appointment with one of our vets if you have concerns.

English Blue cat.

Blinking good cats

Have you ever tried to win a staring contest with a cat? Well, trust me, you can’t! Cats have a marvellous unblinking gaze, and this post will shed some light on why, and what that fixed stare might mean for you.

Where it all began

Cats in the wild survive by hunting small prey in dim light – and they are extremely good at it. This is partly due to their excellent vision which has developed specifically to be able to keep track of fast-moving creatures in poorly lit environments. They need to be able to lock their eyes onto a target and keep track of it, or else they risk losing their dinner! This means they have highly developed eyes, and using them is an important part of their lives – even if your average pet cat nowadays doesn’t have to stray far from their cosy bed to find regular meals.

Cats have also evolved a finely tuned communication system based on body language: mostly posture, facial expressions and noisy vocalisations. Intense staring can be an important form of this communication between cats and is often the first stage in various confrontations, including territorial spats. A cat’s ‘hard stare’ has therefore developed a bit of a reputation as a sign of aggression, but that is not always the case and depends a lot on other body language.

So, what does it actually mean now?

Eye contact is important to cats, but it is worth remembering that it is only one form of body language! Look for additional signs to see how your cat is feeling. A happy cat will likely be in a relaxed posture and may be blinking slowly whilst maintaining eye contact. Angry cats may hiss or growl, swish their tails and flatten their ears. Scared or anxious cats will often hide behind or under furniture in a crouched position with their tails tucked underneath them. All of these cats may also be staring at you!

Here are a few common scenarios in which you might glance up and see those eyes fixed on your face.

Your cat wants something

Cats quickly learn that we are their servants in life, catering to their every need and whim! We provide their food, their shelter, their affection and comfort. Unlike humans, they cannot put into words what they want us to do, and so they merely stare and assume we will figure it out eventually. This may be why you notice those eyes becoming particularly intense just around dinner time!

Your cat is curious

Cats are notoriously nosy creatures: curiosity killed the cat, after all! They are constantly keeping an eye on us (literally!), reading our body language and looking out for subtle signs that all is well. Cats rely on us both for food and shelter, but also because we are part of their social group, and regular eye contact is important for them to maintain that stable family.

Your cat is sleeping

This may seem like an odd one, but your cat may merely be catching forty winks! Cats sleep a lot (really, a LOT), and they can sleep with eyes partially open, so they can appear to be staring at you for long periods of time when in fact they’re well away in dreamland. Uncomfortable and a bit weird, maybe, but harmless.

Your cat is unwell

This is an uncommon cause of staring, but some diseases, mostly of older cats, can cause high blood pressure. This in turn can cause their pupils to dilate and their eyes to take on a slightly fixed stare. If you notice your cat staring more than usual, having dilated pupils even in good light, or a reddish look to the eyes, take them for an appointment with your vet.

Your cat just loves you!

Intense, staring eyes and a slow blink…. congratulations! Your cat just really loves you. Fixed eye contact and regular slow blinking is a sign of affection in cats. So, look straight back, indulge in some slow blinks and enjoy an affectionate moment with your feline friend.

In Conclusion

The reality is, it’s very difficult to be absolutely sure why your cat enjoys watching you so much. Unless they’re giving off some other angry body language, or have an underlying medical issue, though, it’s likely because you are hugely important to them and they want you to know that. What to do? Well, perhaps just acknowledge it, give them a stare and a few blinks back and revel in the attention. Oh, and maybe fetch them some dinner.


Indoor cats and misconceptions

Cats are mysterious enough on their own, without pesky myths and misconceptions mucking things up. Even though indoor cats typically live a safer, healthier lifestyle than their free-roaming feral friends, they aren’t without risk. So today, we’re debunking some of the most common myths about indoor cats.

My indoor cat can’t get fleas because my home is clean

Even if your home is sparkling clean, your indoor cat can still get fleas. Fleas can make their way indoors on shoes, with visitors, or through other pets that go outside. Even rodents that may take refuge in your home during the cooler months can bring in fleas. The best way to truly protect against fleas is to keep all your pets, including indoor-only cats, on a regular, year-round flea preventative.

Indoor cats only need one litter box

To minimize the chance of your cat going outside their litter box — and choosing your floors and laundry instead — they should have a choice when it comes to where they potty. Cats are likely to avoid a box that already has “deposits” in it or one that they’ve developed a negative association with. The general rule-of-thumb is to have one more box than the number of cats you have. Ideally, keep the litter boxes in different locations and not next to one another.

Indoor cats miss their hunting instinct

While your indoor cat isn’t hunting prey like their outdoor feline friends, you can provide the same stimulation indoors to help to satisfy that instinct. You can engage your cat’s primal instinct with interactive feeders, puzzle toys, laser pointers, and other fun toys and play.

Pregnant women must get rid of their cats

Pregnant women can have cats, but some caution should be exercised when dealing with the litter box. When cleaning a litter box, pregnant women can be at risk for Toxoplasma, a parasite which can live in cats and be shed in cat poop. Exposure to the Toxoplasma organism early in pregnancy can cause birth defects or miscarriage in women.

If you have cats and become pregnant, be sure to talk with your doctor and always wear gloves and wash your hands after scooping the litter box. Cleaning the litter box every day can minimize exposure risk since Toxoplasma isn’t infective in fresh stool.

Indoor cats don’t need veterinary care

It’s important for indoor cats to get a veterinary check-up at least once a year. Even indoor-only cats can develop a variety of medical conditions and diseases. After all, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even cancer don’t respect walls and doors. Indoor cats can also contract viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, as these nasties can come into your home on your shoes and clothes, other cats, or dogs in the home that can go outside.

Indoor cats don’t need to be microchipped

If your cat gets out of your home, how will you find them? Indoor cats do occasionally get out, especially during home renovations, when moving, or even when friends and family come to visit. An RSPCA survey found that only 74% of lost cats are reunited with their owners. If your cat gets out and doesn’t have visible identification or a microchip, the probability of them getting returned to you is significantly lower than if they are easily identified.

The outdoors stay outside

While your cat may not leave the house, you certainly do. And with you, comes a variety of unwanted “guests” like ticks, fleas, worm eggs, etc. Visiting friends, pets, and rodents can carry them in, too. Even neighbourhood strays that visit your cats from the other side of a screen door or window can pass along germs and parasites (e.g., fleas). The best line of defence for your indoor cat against outside invaders is to keep them up-to-date on their vaccines and on parasite protection year around.

Vet checking a cats mouth.

Visiting the vets with my cat

Cat’s can quite often be nervous about coming to the Vet, though let’s face it, they don’t know they are going to the vet’s! The reality is that Cat’s are creatures of habit and a break in that habit can be enough to cause stress and worry.

So what can you do to reduce that stress and worry?

What can a carrier do to reduce the stress associated with a vet visit? 

  1. Choose a suitable cat carrier: not all cat carriers are equal! The ‘best’ cat carriers are easy to get cats in and out of, secure so the cat cannot escape and easy to clean. They should be large enough so that the cat can stand up and change position: many carriers are too small. Ideal from a veterinary perspective are carriers that have a large top opening and/or carriers which can be easily dismantled if the cat does not want to come out voluntarily.
  2. Don’t keep your cat carrier in a dusty attic or shed! Ideally the cat carrier should be a normal part of the home, as one of the sleeping options for your cat so that they do not only associate the carrier only with travel and a visit to the clinic.
  3. Make the carrier an inviting place for your cat to spend time in at home. If it has a detachable top, then remove this and the door so that the cat now has a low sided sleeping ‘basket’ they can enjoy. Put in some soft bedding, favourite toys and perhaps some treats. Feliway spray can also be helpful. Feliway contains a synthetic version of a pheromone which cats secrete from cheek glands and which they then rub onto familiar surfaces such as walls of the home and their carer’s legs. Spray Feliway into an empty carrier 20-30 minutes before allowing your cat access to the carrier and your cat will feel more reassured that their carrier is safe. Don’t spray Feliway on or near your cat as the alcohol carrier is unpleasant for them.
  4. On the day of the vet visit it can be helpful to:
  • Prevent your cat from going outdoors, if applicable
  • Spray the carrier and a towel or blanket which can be used to cover the carrier during the journey and in the waiting room with Feliway 20-30 mins before use
  • Remember to always use one carrier per cat: even best friends may fall out if confined together in a stressful situation
  • Consider restricting access to food, especially if your cat is often sick on the journey. Restricting access to food may also be required by your vet clinic if certain tests, sedation or anaesthesia are needed
  1. Place the cat carrier securely in the car – either on a seat with a seat-belt to hold in place or in a foot well.
  1. Drive as smoothly and calmly as you can.
  2. If your cat is very stressed in the waiting area of the clinic, consider waiting in your car until the clinician is ready to see you (ask the clinic receptionists to assist with this)
  3. If using a clinic waiting area:
  • Choose somewhere to sit that is as far away from other pets and people as possible
  • Try and place the cat carrier off the ground: cats feel safer if not at floor level
  • Cover the carrier with a Feliway-sprayed towel or blanket
  1. In the consultation, where possible allow your cat to choose when they wish to come out of the carrier by opening (and possibly removing) the door of the carrier.
  2. In terms of cat handling and restraint, remember that ‘less is more’. If a cat feels that they are being held or restrained they are more likely to resist this and may, as a last resort, become aggressive.

Finally some common questions that I am asked about vet visits:

  1. What if my cat does not want to come out of their carrier? 

They should be lifted out gently (if in a top opening carrier) or, if the top half of the carrier can be removed, this should be done and the cat examined in the base.

  1. Is scruffing a cat an OK way to hold it? 

Scruffing is the procedure whereby someone restrains a cat by firmly gripping the loose skin at the back of the neck in a similar way to how a mother cat lifts and carries her kittens. Scruffing is not a kind or appropriate way to handle cats – they should not be restrained or lifted by their scruff.

Handling cats should always be done gently and with respect. If cats feel they still have some sense of control of their environment they are likely to be calmer and much less inclined to resist restraint or become aggressive. Gentle handler results in a cat that is easier to examine. If restraint is needed then wrapping a towel is much kinder than scruffing.

  1. My cat is really stressed at the vets and they find it very difficult to examine them – what else can I try? 

The first thing is always to speak to your vet clinic and voice your concerns. It may be that there are solutions which can be considered including, where appropriate

  • A phone or video consultation to follow up on test results or treatment rather than the cat needing to attend the clinic
  • An appointment at a quieter time of day when the waiting room is likely to be emptier and less stressful for your cat
  • Pre-visit sedation which can reduce the stress of the clinic visit
  • A home visit may be an option although this can still be quite a stressful experience for cats