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Socialising and Preparing Your Cat For Vaccinations
Finding out how to socialise a cat will help prepare them for their cat vaccinations. If your cat is used to being handled from an early age, this can help them have a much more comfortable experience when it comes to meeting and interacting with their vet for the first time. A properly socialised cat is more likely to keep calm when they receive their vaccinations.
The importance of socialising your cat
Socialising involves more than just introducing your cat to other cats, people, or pets, but also to new situations and experiences, like new sounds, smells, or sights. Socialising is especially important for kittens around their developmental period of 2-7 weeks old. Cats who have not been properly socialised are more likely to be afraid, anxious, or aggressive. Whereas a cat who has been properly socialised will be more confident, happy, relaxed, and is less likely to panic when they meet their vet for the first time.
The best ways to socialise your cat in preparation for their vaccinations
If your cat is unvaccinated, it’s important to socialise them safely first. Make sure to only introduce them to fully vaccinated and friendly cats. It’s not advised to let your cat outside prior to completing their vaccinations, as diseases such as cat flu and feline enteritis are highly infectious. Ensure anyone who touches your cat washes their hands first, since these diseases can be spread through contaminated surfaces, even shoes and clothes.
You may also want to get your cat used to travelling in the car. If their very first road trip takes them to the vet, they may be resistant to going in their travel carrier or getting in the car for future trips. For most cats, a trip to the vet can be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to take them for a few fun journeys so they don’t have negative associations of car rides.
It's also a good idea to get them used to their carrier ahead of time, so try leaving the carrier open in a room – you may find your cat is curious and goes in of their own accord. Place their favourite blanket or treats inside to help give them a positive experience of being inside the carrier case. If your cat only associates their carrier with an unpleasant trip to the vet, they’ll be more likely to hide or be highly resistant to being placed inside.
Keeping your cat calm during the vaccinations
As your cat may already find travelling quite stressful, it can be tricky to keep them calm during their vaccinations.
One way to keep your cat calm could be to invest in a synthetic pheromone spray which mimic natural pheromones released by cats. Spraying a little into their carrier or onto their favourite blanket can be effective in helping your cat relax.
Once you’re inside the waiting room, try to keep your cat away from other animals and do not let them out of their carrier until instructed to by your vet. If you can, stroke your cat and keep talking to them in a calm, relaxed voice.
Bring a stash of your cat’s favourite treats with you and see if they show any interest. This can help reduce their stress levels and create a more positive experience for their vet trip.
How to respond if your cat panics during their vaccinations
If your cat panics when they’re receiving their vaccinations, they might:
● have an increased respiratory rate
● display aggressive behaviour
● crouch down or attempt to hide
● freeze completely
● have fully dilated pupils
● have their fur standing on end
If your cat is moderately anxious, you may be able to calm them simply by following the steps above. However, if they do start to panic, keep on talking to them in a soothing voice and see if they are interested in their treats. Avoid punishing them and try to avoid confining them back in their carrier as this may increase their panic, as some cats, when caged, may injure themselves. In severe cases, your vet may discuss prescription medicine to administer to your cat prior to their visit.
Taking your cat for their vaccinations may not be the most enjoyable experience but, with a little planning and preparation, you can minimise their discomfort. To find out more information about vaccinations and caring for your cat, visit our petcare blog.
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