Huge vet issues

squirrelymonki

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I have a cat, ironically named Mellow, who is anything but when he goes to the vet. They have flagged his charts to not handle without heavy sedation. The problem is that they cannot see what I see, and his responses to painful areas etc., when he's blacked out. Is there anything I can recommend or ask them to try instead that would work on a cat that goes into Stephen King Pet Semetary  territory?
 

Ms. Freya

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Ah...I've had a few of these. Our Freya used to turn into a flying ball of claws and death at the vet and our current FIV+ boy, Wendel, is very afraid at the vet and when it comes to fight or flight, he chooses fight.

Our current vet is quite good with Wendel. He responds well to Feliway, so they spray down themselves and the exam room for him. They also gave use Feliway wipes to wipe down his carrier with to help with stress. For a lot of things, they have me stay in the room with him and hold him and talk to him. We've discovered Wendel is much calmer if he can hear me and sit with me, so do as much as I can. (he was abused before he came to us and has one heck of a mistrust of strangers touching him).

When we had Freya, I had to talk to her constantly. So long as she heard my voice, she was okay. So the vet usually had a good giggle as I ended up describing my day at work to the cat so she wouldn't go psychotic.

Are there times of the day when he's worse than others? Does he react badly to the vet or to the office? If he's stressed about being at the vet's office, maybe ask if your vet ever does housecalls. Some people find that infinitely easier. 
 
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cinqchats

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Definitely talk to them, but understand that in the end the vet will want to take their own safety into account too. Nobody wants to deal with a cat bite wound, they are easily infected and very painful. Plus (at least in my state) if a cat bites someone the cat then has to be put into a 10 day isolation hold to monitor for rabies. Even if they are vaccinated! 
 
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squirrelymonki

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He reacts nightmarishly ALL of the time. It's as if he senses it, no matter how we try it or what we do, and he goes insane. I doesn't matter if it is at home or somewhere else, he just wants no part of medical care. He's always been a very touchy and unnerved cat. I can calm him down a little by talking with him, but that is after the ordeal. Beforehand, he'll attack me as well and see me as the enemy along with the rest :(  responds to me now well on his own. I am thinking of trying Feliway again. It didn't have much of an impact of him when I first tried him out on it, but he was new to my home at the time and still kind of saw everything as a potential enemy (I have the scars on my head and face to prove it!) But it really helped my other two cats and he seems more..."open" to it all now. Thank you for the advice and giving me some things to consider and try!
 
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squirrelymonki

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He already gashed open my vet, even with his having protective gloves on. They eventually had to net him and tranquilize him through the net. I heard it was quite the ordeal. My dad was with him, as I had to work and we thought he had minor issues. Turned out, he had a missed massive tapeworm infestation that almost killed him. They had to do CPR on him during treatment because his heart stopped. 
 

abby2932

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I had the exact same issue with my cat and an old vet. As soon as I brought him into the examination room the vet and the vet technician would gang up on him and try to hold him down to do a wellness exam. It pretty much made my cat freak out and go completely feral to the point where they could not handle him at all to check his well-being.

I ended up bringing him to another vet for a totally different reason and warned my new vet about his behavior and how difficult he is to handle. However, the new vet was able to handle him so much better and the cat pretty much just sits there and takes it.

Basically, what I'm saying is cats respond to how they know they're going to be treated. My cat new that the old vet abd staff were fearful and it made him fearful. The new vet has a very calm demeanor and was able to keep my cat calm during the exam. If your vet already has gloves on and is ready to fight with the cat, the cat will not respond well to this. Maybe try visiting another vet to see if he might react better to someone else?
 
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squirrelymonki

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I might try another vet, to see if another method works better for him. From what I am told about the day he went nuts, it all went to pot very quickly. As soon as they opened the carrier he was hissing and scratching, then he bolted out of the carrier and began banging around the room, baring his teeth and clawing at them. He knocked over a few objects and ended up on their highest shelving, hissing and yowling...That is the gist of his behavior during the incident that got him "Flagged". But I know there has to be a better way, because he's not a terrible cat. Temperamental and skittish, but a good boy. He doesn't like to be held much, or handled...I think he might have been abused before I found him.  
 

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You might call around to other vets, explain the situation and see what they say about how they would handle it. My cat is a big boy and not very friendly at the vets. He doesn't go ballistic the way your did, but would definitely bite if given the opportunity. It's a constant fear. They do sedate him but not knock him out totally. Usually they have at least one other person or two in the room with him. I've found that I can calm him a bit by brushing him. It's so hard, you can't explain to them you're trying to help them.  Best of luck!
 
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squirrelymonki

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Thank you for the advice and well wishes. It is hard. All I want to do is help, and he acts like I am taking him to the guillotine. 
 

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Does your vet have one common waiting room for all the animals (dogs included) that come through the office? My grandma's cat was also a nightmare at the vet and also had to be sedated (not fully out, just tranqued) until the vet opened up a separate waiting room for cat patients. Apparently that made all the difference. She's still grouchy, but she no longer tries to kill him. So that's something to ask about if you're in the market for a new vet. My vet doesn't have a separate waiting room, but any and all cats that come in go straight to the exam room so they don't get too stressed.

If the carrier is part of his whole vet-related rampage/kicks it off/adds to his stress, maybe try getting a new one and leave it around the house for a few weeks with treats and toys in it. I really like the Sherpa-style carriers, and my cats seem to like the mesh sides.

The other things that might work are the composure treats. There are a few different brands but they have the mother-cat pheromone in them (slightly different from Feliway, which is usually the face-pheromone, but same general idea). I've found that these conk my cats right out, but they're both on the small side. If your cat is bigger, it might just make him dozy for an hour or so. My cats don't really like the taste, so when I've had to use them, I've crumbled them up and put them on their wet food. It's worth a shot!

Anyway, good luck! I know this is a stressful situation--my old horse absolutely hated one of our vets, to the point that I had to switch to a different one--and I hope you find something that works for the two of you :)
 

cinqchats

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He already gashed open my vet, even with his having protective gloves on. They eventually had to net him and tranquilize him through the net. I heard it was quite the ordeal. My dad was with him, as I had to work and we thought he had minor issues. Turned out, he had a missed massive tapeworm infestation that almost killed him. They had to do CPR on him during treatment because his heart stopped. 
WOW what a bruiser he is! I'd think now that they know they could tranq him while he's still in the carrier?
 
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squirrelymonki

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There is a common waiting room, but they try to call us back fairly quickly and into a room that is sterilized between each visit. They tried giving him space and time to adapt, but it only got him more riled up. 

I don't know if it's the carrier type etc. He's always been a bit touchy about being touched or handled in any way...though, when he is sick, he's my lap cat. It's something to think over and try, though. It might help improve his mood and the general experience. 

I will look into some of the over the counter stuff and see how that works on him at home and work it outward at a gradual pace. He hates to be outside too. I tried to take him out in a harness for cats once, and spent an hour getting him out from under our van. 

Thanks for the advice and well wishes. It's reassuring to know I am not the only one out there with a cat that goes psycho at the vet! 
 
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squirrelymonki

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They refuse to just tranquilize him. They stated they would not handle him until/unless he is unconscious. The minute he wakes up, he's shoved back to me.
 

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I think I would be looking for a new vet; one perhaps that was ore animal-centric.
 

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I've had a couple like that.  My Grey Boy (see photos below my signature) was a feral who was injured, and the only way I could get him to the vet the first time and then every 5 days for bandage changes for weeks, was to give him lorazepam.  It's the same group as the most commonly used vet tranquilizers (benzodiazepines) and has the advantage of being practically tasteless and also requiring a much smaller amount when one is using the human sized pills.  My cat would not eat the big blue vet pill, but it was easy to crush 1/2 of a 1 mg. lorazepam pill (which is very small) into a powder by crushing between two spoons, sprinkle it on some turkey bacon and roll up the turkey bacon and feed it to him (this was a cat I could not touch.)  Before his injury, he had been totally wild but came to my house for food for four years.  Then one day he showed up terribly wounded (see photos) and actually came into my laundry room, which he had never done before.  They know when they need help, and he did.  After eating the turkey bacon, it took awhile but he would get sleepy and climb up into his laundry basket bed, and then he would be pretty much asleep after 45 minutes to an hour.  I would get a second laundry basket and put it over the top, fasten it on 4 sides with zip ties, throw a towel over the top of it and carry him to the car.  When we got to the vet's office, he would cut the zip ties on one end, open the basket and quickly give him an injection of a short acting sedative.  Within a few minutes the cat would be totally out and could be removed from the basket, have his wounds treated and bandages changed, and then be ut back in the basket.  I always zip tied it again for safety even thuogh he was asleep.  At home I would put the basket back where it usually is in the  laundry room and remove the zip ties and the second basket.  He would wake up peacefully in his own home and his own bed, none the worse for wear. 

Although lorazepam tablets aren't generally in your vet's office, he can write you a prescription for them and you can get them at the pharmacy.  They react differently with each animal so it is advisable to try using it a few times at home so you can get just the right dosage for your cat.  Mine was about a 10 lb. cat and half a 1 mg. tablet was perfect for him.  I have also used it on some of the others as an appetite stimulator.  Using a much lower dosage (usually 1/8 tablet) mixed in some goats milk, it seems to make a sick cat happier and hungrier.  The only side effect is that sometimes they get talkative or super cuddly, not a problem unless you are trying to get something done around the house.

You might be able to get this to work for you.  It would certainly make it less traumatic for him.  There's nothing wrong with the vet putting him totally out before handling him.  I think it's a lot kinder than fighting with a terrified raging cat. 

http://www.dvm360.com/sites/default/files/u11/Medications_fearful-dogs_cats.pdf
 
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squirrelymonki

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That reminds me a lot of my Mel. He was racing through the library I worked at over and over, and seemed to take to me really well - until I tried to pick him up. I could and did, but it resulted in some mangling of my arms. When I got him home, he would frequently switch from loving and peaceful, to essentially wanting me destroyed. It took months and his health scare for him to warm up to me completely. After he almost died, it was like I was his Savior when I got him home from the vet. But his experience and feeling about the vet and being overly handled has never changed.

You bring up a great idea and possibility for me and Mel. My concern is that there are behaviors and actions he only does while awake that are concerning to me, so if he is passed out, my vet will not see it. But maybe heavily sedating him to almost the brink could work out. 
 
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