Getting a cat to a vet

by Mary
(Rochester, NY USA)

I have a black, 12 year old cat who has never taken to being socialized. I took her & her 3 siblings from my back yard when they were about 3 months old. She is the survivor of the four. I've lived in a 10-room house, but now I have to move into a two bedroom apartment.

I need to take her to a vet and she is extremely skittish, the other cats were more relaxed. She is affectionate with me, on her own terms, but I want her to be bathed and have her nails clipped. I've noticed that her right eye is cloudy. I want her to be happy & healthy for the rest of her life. She prefers the basement, which is now empty, so I may have a slightly better chance of catching her, but I don't have much hope.

She has never been to a vet because of this, she notices the smallest move I make, runs away & hides (with the basement empty, her hiding place is under the sink in the basement.) She is terrified when there is company. I'm tired of seeing her this way. Also, she has never been spayed and I'm afraid she would be too old to survive. She needs to behave in the apartment or neither of us will have a home.

Any ideas? I'm all out. I think if I can get her there, our closer proximity in the apartment should calm her down.

Dear Mary,

I wish you lived in our area, as we handle frightened cats all the time and would be happy to do a house call. However, you may want to explore whether there are mobile veterinary services in your area or house call vets with experience handling frightened kitties. Bringing the veterinary care to your cat will ensure that she does get veterinary care.

If house call veterinarians are not available in your area, you could also call local vet hospitals to see if a veterinarian would be willing to prescribe a mild sedative for traveling with your cat. Valium is relatively safe for cats, even without a physical exam, and a vet in your area may be willing to prescribe this for you to be able to bring her in. If not, the veterinary clinic may have a technician with experience handling frightened cats that is willing to come help you get your cat in a carrier to be examined.

Aside from exploring the veterinary service options available in your area, there are other things you could try to help ease the stress of bringing your cat to the vet, and getting her to your new apartment. If a vet won’t prescribe valium or other sedative to ease the stress of travel, you could try a natural, holistic supplement called Rescue Remedy, which helps reduce stress for cats and people alike. A Sleepypod would be a very wise investment as well, as it doubles as a cat bed and your cat may become familiar enough with using it as a bed that you can slip the dome lid on while she is sleeping in it!

You are certainly not alone with your struggles in getting your cat in a cat carrier to bring her to a vet, as is evidenced by this question and answer from another visitor. These tips, and many others, can all be read about in detail on this page.

Once you have conquered the obstacle of getting your cat in the carrier, I would recommend that you leave her with reputable veterinarian for the day for bloodwork and a thorough exam and to address your concerns with her eye. If she is healthy otherwise, she is not too old to be spayed, and in fact, doing so may help calm her down!

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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