A cat comes in to the hospital stressed to kill. What should you do? While cases like this are stressful for these fearful cats, they can cause just as much anxiety in experienced hospital staff as well as clients and other patients exposed to the sound of the loud struggles that ensue.
Often we can completely diffuse the situation without even needing to talk the cat down. We can just move into a quiet, comfortable room and use some simple towel-wrap techniques like so.
In other cases, in order to provide a thorough examination and the procedures the cat needs, you may need to go to sedation. But how do you even sedate a cat like this?
The following video demonstrates a technique developed by Traci Shreyer, applied animal behaviorist, when she was on the Ohio State University Community Practice service where she established Low Stress Handling techniques.
The cat is first placed in a quiet, dimly lit room with calming music. A towel is kept over the carrier to block visual access.
Then when it’s time to perform the sedation, the technicians and doctors are prepared. While the owner distracts the cat at the front of the carrier, a technician cracks the back of the carrier open so that a second technician can place the towel. In this case the second technician is Traci Shreyer. She quickly places the towel over the cat pinning the sides down with her arms and using a ring hold around the cat’s neck. Then she lifts her elbow so that the clinician can reach under and give an injection in the epaxial muscles. Then Traci places the towel in the carrier and the technician quickly puts the top back in place and covers the carrier.
The cat is then left in the carrier and quiet room. The goal is to keep the environment calm and non-stimulating so that the sedative can take effect. Once the owner indicates that it looks like the cat is sleeping, the clinician comes in to evaluate the level of sedation. In this case the cat is still sternal so they give him an additional dose. After another 15 minutes he’s completely asleep. The technicians place a calming cat to block visual stimuli, cotton in his ears to block auditory stimuli, and muzzle for safety. All talking in the room is kept to a minimum. Once the procedure is over, the sedation is reversed and the cat placed in the carrier to wake up restfully before he goes home.
If you’re dedicated to learning Low Stress Handling techniques, take our online Low Stress Handling Silver Certification Course. It consists of 10 online lectures and labs, plus a workbook to help guide get the most out of your studies.