Vet Trips Made Easier

Amy D. Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and the award-winning author of 23 pet care books, including “Complete Kitten Care” and “Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting-Edge Medicine for Dogs & Cats.” View more about Amy by clicking here:

Cats get the short end of the health care stick. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats visit the vet much less frequently than dogs. It’s not that felines are healthier (although cats do hide illness better) but many cats hate the vet so much their owners find it easier to just skip it. But even healthy cats need well exams once or twice a year.

Cats are adept at protecting themselves from stranger danger. What’s familiar is safe, while anything new or different raises kitty suspicions. A vet visit delivers a triple whammy by changing the cat’s routine, environment and exposure to strangers. Here are seven reasons cats hate the vet and how you can ease the angst.

Negative Crate Expectations. Cats learn very quickly to recognize cause and effect. The appearance of the cat carrier prompts kitty disappearing acts if used only for vet visits. Make the carrier part of the furniture and add a fuzzy bed or catnip toys inside to create a pleasant association.

Claustrophobic Car Rides. Though humans can look out windows and know what’s happening, the cat’s-eye view from the carrier offers movement without warning. Odd sounds and being in a strange environment raise cat blood pressure and might even prompt motion sickness. Covering the view with a towel over the carrier’s door helps some cats. But simply taking Kitty for many short rides around the neighborhood (and never going to the vet!) followed by treats or games can diminish nerves.

Scary Smells. Cats experience much of life through their noses. The array of unfamiliar smells found in a hospital — antiseptic, strangers, other animal’s fear — can ramp up the kitty fright factor. A pheromone product like Comfort Zone with Feliway that can be spritzed on a towel inside the carrier can help soothe environmental stress.

Strange Pets. Nothing turns felines into hiss-terical claw monsters like barking dogs or meowing cats. When confined inside a carrier, your frightened cat can’t flee, so the fight-or-flight instinct has no outlet. She may redirect her fear aggression on the nearest target — you or the vet staff. Ask to schedule your cat’s exam early in the morning or at slow times to avoid a busy waiting room. Some vet practices have separate waiting rooms and entrances for cats and dogs, so at least your cat never has to see or hear the mortal enemy.

Cold Exam Tables. Though cats may hate getting into their carriers, being dumped on a cold metal table elevates the “strangeness” of the experience significantly. After all, Kitty-Boy’s preferred lounging spots are the windowsill with a view, the soft top of the sofa, or a table underneath a warm lamp. Take along a towel or even the cat’s bed that smells like your cat to make the exam table more feline friendly. Some cat specialty practices have exam room windows with bird feeders outside or water fountains and fish tanks for kitty distraction.

Weird People Doing Weird Things. The vet and clinic staff love animals, but to your cat they’re from Mars. Maybe they wear uniforms and smell like dogs (spit!) and don’t ask permission to stroke his fur. A particular stressor is being handled by several people — the vet tech for getting a temperature or stool sample, for example, and later the veterinarian. Reducing the number of handlers may help. Scheduling enough time so the cat doesn’t feel rushed also can ease the tension.

Painful or Surprising Events. Needle sticks aren’t much fun. And a cold thermometer inserted into the nether regions is no way to make friends. It’s up to owners to offer treats or toys during and immediately after upsetting procedures to help change how cats feel about vet visits.

Cats remember discomfort, fear and bad experiences and expect them in the future. But they also remember good experiences and anticipate accordingly. Ask about taking your kitten for “fun visits” to meet and get used to the vet and staff, so he can simply play and be petted rather than examined and treated. Repeated happy visits take the scary out of the equation. Make vet visits more pleasant, and your cat will be happier — and healthier.


Bring out your indoor cat’s inner kitten with these easy ideas



Cats are intelligent, active creatures that need daily stimulation just like we do.

Help your cats to tackle boredom and keep undesirable behaviors to a minimum. Constant meowing, scratching furniture, and urinating outside the litter box are all behaviors that can be avoided with some simple solutions that will keep your feline companions entertained throughout the day.

  • Put a well constructed multiple tiered cat tree next to your window that has a scratching surface such as sisal.  They’ll happily gaze at birds, passing cars, and pedestrians. This is a simple activity that will occupy your cat for hours all year round.
  • Turn on pleasant, easy going music or play a CD of nature sounds to soothe and comfort your pet when no one is home.  Buy a cat sitter DVD with a continuous loop to entertain them.
  • Satisfy your cat’s need to climb by creating safe pathways to the tops of bookshelves and other high places.  If you have empty wall space, consider perch wall units that will accomplish this.
  • Indulge the natural hunting instincts in your cat by hiding treats or dry kibble in your home. Use a kitty diner that will provide your cats with a stimulating activity. The challenging activity appeals to the natural love of hunting and will stimulate them mentally and physically.  Change the locations frequently to keep things interesting.
  • Give your cat new toys to sniff, play with, and explore. These might be anything from catnip toys, puzzle toys, teaser toys and tunnels.  These are wise investments that will go a long way towards keeping your cat healthy and happy.
  • Teach your cats to walk on a leash or provide a secure cat enclosure for the yard. This will enable your kitties to enjoy some of the perks of being outdoors without any of the risks associated with them roaming free outdoors.
  • Treat your cat to quality one-on-one playtime and cuddle time as often as possible.

Your cats have a distinct personality just like you do, so why not try as many of these entertainment ideas as possible and stick to the ones they like best!



“Happy Cats are Healthy Cats”

Lynn Baer, DVM, Cat Specialist, shares her top tips for cat owners to ensure well adjusted, happy cats.  Lynn says, “happy cats are healthy cats and happy cats make owners happier and healthier, too”.

  Tip #1) Recognize the fact that indoor only cats have no choices of their own in life

They are completely reliant on what we offer them.  We choose their litter box size, shape, location and litter substrate. We choose where they are fed, what they are fed out of, and what foods they are offered.  We choose their toys, their beds, their bowls, and everything within their lives.  Cats have few choices of their own.   They would be happier given more choices of their own and once owners understand that and begin to expand their options, cats would remain healthier and happier. 

Tip #2) Bring the outdoors in 

Cats are held captive within four walls for their entire lives.  Open the blinds, open the windows, grow grass, bring leaves and branches in for them to smell. Again for owners to be more aware of the fact that their cats have never walked on grass or soil, experienced changes in temperature, smelled different smells, or had the ability to walk around the block to explore new surroundings.  Owners should evaluate every opportunity to enhance their indoors cat’s lives by bringing new things into the home.  Build catios, window units or other alternative opportunities for cats to experience the outdoors.  At a minimum place window seats around the house (off the ground), build vertical spaces for them to climb, train them to walk on leashes, erect cat proof fences, etc.

 Tip #3) Play, play, play and more play

Indoor cats are bored, depressed and inactive.  Owners don’t generally play with their cats daily.  Cats need exercise, mental stimulation and fun.  Having a basket of toys for cats is not enough.  Owners should actively engage with their pets by using wand toys, laser lights, throwing blankets over furniture to create tents, rotating toys daily.  Adding silvervine, catnip, and valerian to their arsenal of toys will give cats new experiences.  Using foraging toys for food rewards, making cats hunt for some of their food all help to stimulate their body and mind.

Tip #4) Lots of scratch posts – both vertical and horizontal for cats to scratch on. 

I am completely opposed to declawing (having never performed one in my entire career).   Scratching is a form of communication and also gives cats the ability to stretch their muscles.  It is important they have great areas and substrates to scratch on.  It makes them happy.

 Tip #5)  Seek out cat only veterinarians

Don’t allow a veterinarian who declaws to treat your cat.  Take your cat to a vet at least once a year for a good physical exam and blood work.  Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness and if an owner thinks their cat is sick, they are likely very sick.  Pay attention to any changes (no matter how small) and seek veterinary care immediately.  Age is not a disease and many owners ignore signs of illness as due to advanced aging.  That is not in a cat’s best interest.  Owners need to advocate on behalf of their pets and insure good medical care.  Seek second opinions.  Good veterinarians encourage owners to do so and are never offended by it. 

 Tip #6) Cats need wet food more than dry

Wet food is lower in calories and higher in protein and moisture.  It is extremely important to feed cats at least 5-6 times daily.  Don’t feed one brand or diet only.  Variety is the spice of life and cats are used to eating birds, squirrels, rats, mice, chipmunks, bugs, etc.  One diet or one brand is not normal.  Either is feeding once or twice a day.

 Source:  The Purrington Post

Editors Note:  Find many of the toys, scratchers, outdoor enclosures and cat furniture mentioned in this article right here.


Do you have cats? You may live longer, as a result.


Cats can make us healthier.

Do you know that spending just 15 minutes of quality time with your cat can be a great stress buster and improve your emotional and physical health?

There is scientific evidence.  Time spent playing with your cats boosts your production of seratonin, a chemical in your body that increases feelings of well being.   Quality time with your cats may also reduce the level of cortisol in your body, a hormone that’s maintained at abnormally high levels when there’s a chronic or continued presence of stressors in your life.

A 20 year study also found that people who owned a cat were 40% less likely to suffer a heart attack. (Source:

OK, that’s enough evidence for me!!!


P.S.  See our great wand and other interactive toys that can help increase quality time with your cats!




Best Pet Friendly Cities – do you and your cat live in one?

We thought you might be interested in seeing how your city stacks up to the top 100 pet friendly cities.  WalletHub (August 8, 2017) provides this useful data.

“Since we live in a pet friendly city, does that mean we need to be friendly with one another?”

Years ago, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses offering animal services and supplies.  But new pet businesses are cropping up every day to fill the demand of this growing breed of consumers. Today, we spoil our pets with all kinds of luxuries, such as gourmet pet cuisine, upscale hotel accommodations and even pet “dating” services.

With pet parents in mind, the 100 largest U.S. cities were analyzed across 21 key metrics. The data set ranges from minimum pet-care provider rate per visit to pet businesses per capita to walkability.

Here they are:

Overall Rank* City Total Score ‘Pet Budget’ Rank ‘Pet Health & Wellness’
‘Outdoor Pet-Friendliness’ Rank
1 Scottsdale, AZ 65.93 80 1 2
2 Phoenix, AZ 63.54 12 6 10
3 Tampa, FL 61.48 10 9 19
4 San Diego, CA 60.56 85 2 6
5 Orlando, FL 59.81 27 4 47
6 Birmingham, AL 59.37 3 21 50
7 Austin, TX 58.26 43 3 54
8 Cincinnati, OH 57.19 13 27 28
9 Atlanta, GA 56.73 24 5 75
10 Las Vegas, NV 56.73 63 15 9
11 Oklahoma City, OK 56.13 1 33 77
12 Plano, TX 56.09 58 8 27
13 St. Petersburg, FL 55.91 21 34 23
14 Colorado Springs, CO 55.51 56 19 21
15 Sacramento, CA 54.95 66 20 18
16 Tucson, AZ 54.47 16 31 42
17 St. Louis, MO 54.37 18 36 36
18 Gilbert, AZ 54.22 41 11 65
19 San Antonio, TX 53.74 8 38 64
20 Miami, FL 53.65 33 12 72
21 Seattle, WA 53.28 88 14 17
22 Denver, CO 53.25 77 7 53
23 Albuquerque, NM 53.04 14 86 13
24 Bakersfield, CA 52.80 22 57 32
25 Henderson, NV 52.80 34 77 5
26 Portland, OR 52.78 94 10 7
27 Los Angeles, CA 52.65 96 13 4
28 North Las Vegas, NV 52.52 31 66 22
29 Columbus, OH 52.26 4 64 57
30 Tulsa, OK 51.36 15 42 74
31 San Francisco, CA 50.97 99 16 1
32 Fremont, CA 50.90 82 45 12
33 Glendale, AZ 50.87 53 26 56
34 Omaha, NE 50.47 17 54 66
35 Dallas, TX 50.44 84 18 41
36 Fort Worth, TX 50.43 50 28 69
37 Long Beach, CA 50.41 86 43 11
38 Irvine, CA 50.31 97 29 3
39 Houston, TX 50.03 52 25 71
40 Chicago, IL 49.97 83 17 52
41 Greensboro, NC 49.91 5 48 73
42 Chandler, AZ 49.83 64 24 63
43 Corpus Christi, TX 49.78 9 72 85
44 Arlington, TX 49.76 38 52 59
45 Garland, TX 49.26 47 51 60
46 St. Paul, MN 49.05 40 75 35
47 Pittsburgh, PA 48.97 45 82 26
48 San Jose, CA 48.94 44 70 25
49 Lexington-Fayette, KY 48.93 32 41 93
50 Raleigh, NC 48.92 42 30 84
51 Boise, ID 48.75 49 78 31
52 Nashville, TN 48.59 70 23 79
53 Indianapolis, IN 48.31 20 35 96
54 Mesa, AZ 48.30 69 37 70
55 Chesapeake, VA 48.28 72 67 24
56 Jacksonville, FL 48.21 55 32 86
57 Madison, WI 48.11 67 73 30
58 Memphis, TN 47.97 25 40 98
59 Kansas City, MO 47.71 19 80 62
60 Minneapolis, MN 47.65 74 55 44
61 Virginia Beach, VA 47.65 57 47 83
62 Riverside, CA 47.61 75 63 29
63 Stockton, CA 47.49 39 87 38
64 Fresno, CA 47.46 28 69 48
65 Lincoln, NE 47.44 23 81 61
66 Anaheim, CA 47.40 93 22 39
67 Chula Vista, CA 47.23 81 56 40
68 Oakland, CA 46.85 89 53 33
69 Irving, TX 46.57 47 60 89
70 Winston-Salem, NC 46.51 30 71 91
71 Durham, NC 46.26 29 65 90
72 Aurora, CO 46.25 62 49 82
73 Wichita, KS 46.02 36 50 99
74 New Orleans, LA 45.96 68 74 51
75 Hialeah, FL 45.62 71 61 68
76 Toledo, OH 45.55 6 91 58
77 Louisville, KY 45.47 35 58 94
78 Fort Wayne, IN 45.45 2 83 100
79 El Paso, TX 45.28 37 94 43
80 Washington, DC 45.20 95 59 16
81 Baton Rouge, LA 45.12 51 44 95
82 Lubbock, TX 45.04 26 89 87
83 San Bernardino, CA 44.77 61 93 15
84 Laredo, TX 44.66 6 95 67
85 Cleveland, OH 44.56 46 79 78
86 Reno, NV 43.99 79 68 76
87 Jersey City, NJ 43.73 92 85 14
88 Detroit, MI 43.44 54 84 80
89 Norfolk, VA 43.43 72 88 46
90 Milwaukee, WI 43.20 11 97 81
91 Charlotte, NC 42.86 78 46 97
92 Anchorage, AK 42.21 87 96 20
93 Philadelphia, PA 41.58 90 90 37
94 Buffalo, NY 41.36 60 92 88
95 Santa Ana, CA 41.34 91 76 55
96 Boston, MA 41.29 59 98 45
97 New York, NY 41.29 100 62 8
98 Honolulu, HI 39.69 76 100 34
99 Baltimore, MD 39.40 65 99 49
100 Newark, NJ 38.89 98 39 92

*No. 1 = Most Pet-Friendly