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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching an old cat new tricks?

One (of many!) new year resolution is to be much better about giving my cats proper attention. I have slacked off soooo much! I guess I figure since I'm home all the time, that's enough... though I don't spend much time actually interacting "individually" with them.

SO! I'm gonna start. I kept thinking "when I get my new cat, I'll be better about it"... however, since Paizly is only 10 years old, I still have another good 5 years or so before that happens.

I am going to try to get them to be better about going in the carrier (leave it out in the room for them to get used to it, rather than suddenly whipping out "the evil box!" and wrestling them into it just for vet visits). I also want to get them used to car trips, so I'll start with just little trips around the block at first, then take them when I run my errands, etc.

The main thing I worry about is the stress this might cause. No, I'm not going to force them to get used to new stuff all at once. I would do it gradually, like 5 minutes a day, and increase 5 minutes every other week or so. But it'll still be a new thing.

Anybody think this is a good plan, especially with a semi-geriatric cat? Vet visits are only once or twice a year, and I dunno if I should put all this effort into something that might cause stress for several months instead of just once in a while.
And Nebbie's not old, but she does seem to over-react to new/scary stuff. Such a drama queen!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 07:27 PM
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Leaving the carrier out is a good idea, but I don't think I'd bother with the car trips, unless you actually want to take them somewhere.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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I've been considering switching vets. The "close" one (and one I've gotten good recommendations for) is a 20+ minute drive. The other one is a cat-only vet, but I haven't heard anything at all about her (just figured she might know more about cats than a vet with a broad range of knowledge for animals in general)...and that drive is 40+ minutes.
Both cats freak out in the car, so I was hoping to find a way to reduce the stress TO the visit, as there's certainly plenty of stress AT the vet visit.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 09:02 PM
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Muffs loves the car, while Abby hates it. Last year, I took the girls quite often to my parents' place when I visited them (a 2-hour drive each way). They loved it when they were at my parents -- they played and explored. I likely went at least 10 times, so Abby spent a good 40 hours in total (2 hours each way) in the car and we went once every few weeks. Yet, despite all of that time in the car, Abby still hates the car! So, I doubt a 5 minute drive here or there is going to help much to reduce your cats' stress in the car.

One thing you might try is some sort of stress reliever, such as the Feliway spray, to reduce their stress levels while driving. Alternatively, it might help if you had someone who could accompany you to the vet and do the driving, so that you could be available to comfort the cats during the trip. For example, sometimes when I drove to my parents, my son came along and he would play with Abby (while she was in her carrier -- he would just dangle toys through) and that seemed to distract her a bit. Muffs is a dream to travel with...she just sleeps. I keep telling Abby to take a lesson from her sister!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 12:16 AM
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Unless you plan to do a fair amount of car travel, I wouldn't take them out on short trips, as it will stress them out. And you really don't want to do that to older cats---the one or two trips to the vet a year is enough.

However, I would get them used to the carrier by leaving it out in a room, not stored away in a closet or garage. You could feed all their treats in it, and sometimes a meal, or put in a catnipped toy from time to time. Then it won't be "the evil box" when you do have to take them to the vet's. Some cats like to nap in it if it has a comfy blanket or towel. I always leave my carriers out just in case of an emergency like a fire or tornado. Where I live we get very few tornados, but 2 years ago one did pass near our house.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Yup, I already planned to buy a Feliway spray next time I go shopping for pet stuff in a few weeks. I want to use it for other things besides the carrier, anyway.

I leave the carrier out near the food station. The door is open, and there's a little towel in there. Both cats completely ignore it. I do spray/wipe it with a bleach solution after each trip, because I figure that gets rid of the "fear" smell that might be left in there, and could make them hate it even more the next time it's used.

I set it on the passenger seat 'sideways', so that the metal door/grate faces me and they can see me. There's holes in the side of the carrier, but not really good for viewing out of.
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