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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24454
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience.
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My cat was scheduled vet visit. He's the sweetest, most

Customer Question

My cat was scheduled for a vet visit. He's the sweetest, most affectionate cat. While trying to get him ready for the carrier, he dug his claws in me and panicked. I had no choice but to let him go. He fell on the tile floor. He seemed ok, but now he's terrified of me. It's been a week and he still cries if I pick him up. Can I regain this trust? I feel awful, but we have to take him to our vet since he has a heart condition we are trying to monitor. Anything I can do? It's been a week and he's still not acting normal towards me yet.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He is the only cat I've known that wants yo be held and loves people. It's shocking that he will not let us pick him up. He cowers down, tail between his legs and hides under the table. He doesn't like treats (strange I know!) but we have tried to pick him up and give him a treat. That hasn't worked either. This was exactly a week ago this happened. I just want to make sure we are doing the right things going forward to fix this behavior issue. We feel so bad, but he's got to go back to the vet soon to check his heart and fix this bad tooth he has. I'm afraid we are just going to freak him out again.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I have advanced training in feline behavior and have found this link to be pertinent and informative: https://www.sfspca.org/sites/default/files/cat_carrier-introduction.pdf

You're going to need to reintroduce Marley to his carrier. His reluctance to travel was recently and inadvertently reinforced when he panicked and fell and now he associates you with that event. Patience is the key. Never force a cat to accept your terms. Instead, allow him to learn that his carrier and, hence, you aren't the boogeymen and that's done as mentioned in that link. Some cats take longer than others to be reconditioned. Marley's vet can work with you in monitoring Marley in a long-distance manner until you've had sufficient time to recondition him. If it's absolutely essential that Marley be attended to in person, his vet can prescribe a safe tranquilizer/anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) drug to be administered 1-2 hours prior to Marley's appointment which should facilitate his being transported. (Quick hint: Always place a cat tush-first into the carrier. When they can't see where they're going you're less likely to have a "freak-out"!)

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.