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Preparing Your Cat for a Trip to the Veterinarian

Erindale Animal Hospital

11-410 Ludlow Street, Saskatoon, SK, S7S 1M7

Phone: (306) 384-2287

Preparing Your Cat for a Trip to the Veterinarian

Even though cats are traditionally independent creatures, you are the most important person in your cat’s world. Next to you, the second most important person in a cat’s life is the veterinarian. These animal doctors have two major goals: to keep animals healthy for as long as they can and to care for them when they become ill. Pretty simple, right?

Keeping your cat healthy requires exercise, proper nutrition, and consistent medical care. Your veterinarian can help you with all three components of your cat’s healthy lifestyle. Since you and your cat will make many trips to the veterinary hospital over the years, it is best to start preparing your kitty for these visits as soon as possible.

What type of carrier is best?

To keep both you and your cat safe for the trip to the animal hospital, alwaysplace your kitty in a cat carrier. Select a carrier that can be opened from the top or from the front. Ideally, you should be able to remove the top half to allow easyaccess to your cat while maintaining his sense of safety in the bottom half. For cat owners who live within walking distance of the veterinary clinic, there are clevercat strollers with ventilated kitty carriers built in that make transportation easy and fun.

How do I get my cat used to going inside the carrier?

Cats like snuggly confined areas, so they learn to tolerate carriers easily when introduced properly. Cats prefer a carrier that smells familiar and reassuring. It is best to have the carrier out at all times so it becomes a place where your cat can sleep and eat on a regular basis. Line the carrier with a soft towel or your cat’s favorite blanket. Offer your cat yummy treats or toys in the carrier at home regularly to help your cat become more comfortable with the carrier.

"It is best to have the carrier out at all times so it becomes a place where your cat can sleep and eat on a regular basis."

What if my cat still doesn’t want to go inside the carrier?

If your cat is still hesitant to breach the carrier’s door, gently nudge him inside from behind. If he resists, remove the top of the carrier, lie him down on the towel, and replace the top. Keep calm if your cat panics at the sight of the carrier, as he will detect your stress. Keep the carrier close, but out of your cat’s sight and wrap your cat in a thick towel or blanket that smells familiar. Put your cat and the towel into the carrier quickly but gently. You can spray this towel or blanket as well as your car with a calming synthetic pheromone (Feliway®) 15 minutes before your cat goes inside the carrier to help minimize stress.

My cat finds traveling in the carrier very stressful and I’m worried it will make him too stressed for the appointment. Can anything be done to help him feel calmer?

When you schedule your appointment, ask your veterinarian or veterinary team about calming supplements or medications that can help your cat be more relaxed during the visit. Gabapentin is a commonly used medication and is proven to reduce stress levels in cats that visit the vet clinic. Even cats that appear calm can be internally anxious and, if not addressed, anxiety can increase with each visit, leading to your cat becoming aggressive as a means to escape, or your cat developing vomiting or diarrhea. These medications and supplements have minimal to no adverse effects and can result in a better experience for your cat.

© Copyright 2022 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.


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Erindale Animal Hospital in the News

Follow the link to watch the CTV News Report

Carla Shynkaruk

Multi-Skilled Journalist CTV News Saskatoon

Updated Aug. 23, 2023 10:59 a.m. PDT

Published Aug. 22, 2023 5:43 p.m. PDT

There’s a natural hazard lurking in the weeds in Saskatoon this time of year that dog owners should be aware of because it could mean costly vet bills or even losing your pet.

Foxtails have been seen more over the past five years and pet owners should be on the lookout.

Sophie is a Shih Tzu Pomeranian, and in her 10 years, her owner Hannah Carswell has never had to deal with a foxtail encounter- until this month.

“Sophie was on the deck of my condo, and she started skittering around and I didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was coughing, and choking and hacking,” Carswell told CTV News.

It was nighttime and her vet wasn’t open, so she waited until the morning. That’s when the vet confirmed it was foxtail, a potentially deadly weed according to Veterinarian Miranda Wallace at the Erindale Animal Hospital.

“It is a bigger deal than people would suspect,” Wallace says.

The grassy weed is topped with a sharp needle which can get stuck in a pet’s coat, paws, or worse if ingested.

“Sometimes it can migrate to places, that can cause issues. Granulomas or abscesses in lungs and chest and migrate into sinuses,” according to Wallace. 

Nicole German experienced foxtails with her previous dog and faced $5000 in vet bills.

“She ate them, so we went through two really serious bouts removing hundreds of foxtails under anaesthesia. Removing them from her throat, mouth, esophagus, we almost lost her,” German told CTV News.

Her new dog is only nine months old and hasn’t had a run-in with foxtails, mostly because the family is diligent and watches for them, according to German. She’s also taken to Facebook to warn other dog owners, so they don’t have to endure what she did.

At the Erindale clinic they’re prepared for numerous cases in the summer with foxtail case numbers on the rise over the past five years.

“We’ve had a few cases come in already. We actually have a case coming in today for foxtails.”

Wallace wants pet owners to watch their dogs and closely monitor what they are eating.

“If you notice that your dog is sniffing around in the grass and then starts pawing at their face, sneezing or coughing that could be an indication that they have a foxtail,” she said.

Tent signs have been put up in various locations around the city, in parks and green spaces.

The signs provide little consolation for Carswell and Sophie.

“It was a really scary. I’m paranoid. I will not take her to the dog parks. The small dog park has them.”

The City of Saskatoon said in an email it is currently managing problem foxtail areas.

“(In) 2021, the City began its educational efforts on foxtail, including information on prevention and control techniques for foxtail barley (foxtail) for developers and landowners.”

For more information and to download a copy of the guide, visit

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