New Horizons Veterinary Behavior Solutions

300 Somonauk St.
Park Forest, IL 60466


It's Official, We Are a
Cat Friendly Practice by the AAFP!


 Does he arrive stressed to the max? 

Do you also arrive stressed to the max? 

Deer Run Animal Hospital is a Feline Friendly Zone! 

We would like to offer some tips that can help de-stress veterinary visits & care. 

Do not let the fear of the veterinary office visit, keep your kitty from receiving wellness and medical examinations. It is very important for even young cats to be examined at least once yearly.  For our middle aged to senior feline patients twice yearly evaluations or more frequent monitoring may be needed. 


Cats are extremely skilled at hiding their illnesses until they are in an advanced stage.  Waiting for your to cat to appear ill, can be too late!  Early detection allows us to find problems when they are the most easily treated!


If your cat is showing one of these Ten Signs of Feline Illness there is no doubt it, it is time to come see us!


Please watch this video on the Importance of Early Detection and Wellness Exams for your Cat  



Many cats get stressed when it's time for a veterinary visit. Watch this video to See How Your Cat Might View His Trip to the Vet  Thankfully there are ways to help cats relax and enjoy the ride and the visit.  This handout has tips on How to Create LOW STRESS Veterinary Visits for Cats


Some of the nicest cats we know (including our own) often arrive at the animal hospital in a state of fear and anxiety!  This can bring out fear aggression and makes it extremely difficult for us to properly examine the kitty, obtain laboratory samples or x-rays, and to treat a kitty's illness.  We work very hard to find ways to decrease anxiety in our kitty patients!


It is important for the humans (veterinarian, staff, and client) to remain calm.  We do not want to add to kitty's anxiety level. We want to look for calm behavior and body postures, and reward these behaviors when they are offered by giving tasty treats. If a kitty is showing fearful posture or behavior, we need to step back, allow the cat to settle, and avoid rewarding fearful behavior.  Speaking in soft low voices is important too.


If your cat has a special treat, toy, or blanket or pillow he loves at home, please bring it along!  We want to offer treats and provide things that are familiar and well liked.  It is difficult for a cat to accept something new, especially when they are nervous about an unfamiliar environment. If your cat needs to be hospitalized it can help to bring a piece of your clothing with your scent on it to make the cat feel close to home. Also bring your cat's favorite food from home if he is going to be staying with us.


Ideally cats should come for wellness and medical visits after at least an 8 hr fast.  This will reduce the incidence of vomiting form car sickness, help us obtain the most diagnostic fasted blood tests, and will make your kitty ready and willing to accept your treats!  We do not recommend withholding water, only withhold food prior to the visit.


We can also reward cats with simple body pressure, or with massaging rubs around the ears and neck.  Often cats respond to gentle pressure versus petting or stroking.  Many cats do not like being briskly petted or stroked down the length of their bodies, these cats may better respond to pressure against their body, or rubs around the ears and neck. Some cats are easily over stimulated by too much stroking. 

Creative Commons Photo by Rossination

Pheromone Therapy is a helpful technique to de-stress cats.   Feliway is a synthetic copy of  the feline facial pheromone, that is applied by cats as they rub their face against surfaces to mark their territory as safe and secure.  By mimicking the cat's natural facial pheromone, Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment. As a result, Feliway can be used to help comfort and reassure cats while they cope with a challenging situation or new environment.  It is important to use this product properly, the Feliway website has great instructions on How to Use Feliway!      

Feliway comes as a spray or room diffuser.  We often have the Feliway Diffuser in use in our feline exam room to make cat's feel welcome upon arrival. We also spray towels and bedding that we use for our cats with Feliway. 


Use the spray form to spray your cat's carrier, as well as inside the car, about 15-30 minutes prior to the trip.  Apply a squirt of spray into each corner, and the roof and floor of your cat's carrier, and on to any bedding inside the carrier before each trip. Feliway is available for sale our our reception desk.


Deer Run Animal Hospital also uses the Feliway Spray to make our patient's hospital and boarding stays more relaxing. We spray our kitties' bedding and cages with the spray daily.  It helps our feline guests feel welcome and relaxed!


Beware!  Imitation feline pheromone products are on the market.  They ARE NOT the same as Feliway. Feliway has been studied by leading Board Certified Veterinary Behavior Specialists around the world!


Cat Carriers should always be used for transport to the hospital for the safety of all!  Many cats "dread" their carriers and resist entering them at home.  This problem can be solved!  Teach your kitty to love the carrier, check out our webpage on Cat Carriers and How to Make them User Friendly!


A must for your cat's safety and security!
David Martyn Hunt

Train-Your-Cat-series  The videos at this link show how to train behaviors to help your cat with health care activities.

Car Sickness is a unpleasant problem for many cats.  Many owners simply will not bring their cats for veterinary care due to them vomiting upon the car ride.  There are medications that can help prevent car sickness.   If your kitty experiences tummy upset during the car ride, ask our veterinarians if medication could help!

Combating Cat Car Sickness

"Can't We Just Give Him Something?"
Or The Role Of Anti-Anxiety Medication For Feline Stress And Fear.

For cats that remain fearful of the car ride and vet visit we can consider anti-anxiety medication.  If your cat's stress is great enought to need this option, you will want to master the skill of pilling your kitty, we have several helpful resources below to help with that.


Alprazolam--is the drug we use most commonly to relieve vet visit and travel anxiety.  It can have a rapid effect and can be used on an as-needed basis.  However, determining the response and dosage for an individual cat can take some trial and error work. Sedation may be seen with this medication and a small number of cats can actually become more aggitated on this class of drugs.  We suggest trying this first at home when travel will not be involved to make sure we do not see increased aggitation.  For many cats it is a very effective anti-anxiety medication.  In some cases it can be helpful to give this medication for 2-3 doses, every 12 hrs, starting prior to the day of travel.  


Zylkene- This is not a drug but rather a supplement made from a milk protein that has calming properties.  It can be given short term for car trips and vet visits but is best started a couple days in advance. It can also be used longer term for longer stress issues.  It is available at Deer Run, ask us about it!


WHAT ABOUT COMING BACK HOME?  Click for Four Tips for Welcoming your Cat Back from the Vet


Many clients stress over Giving Meds to Cats
Click this LINK to learn how medication administration does NOT have to be stressful!! 
We have lots of tips on how to help you give your kitty medication without it being a stressful battle between the two of you. The handouts and videos provided on this web page will demonstrate effective and low stress techniques of medication administration.  If you would like more help, ask for our staff to give you a demonstration!

"You wanna give me what?"

EVetsites photo

We Use Feline Friendly Restraint Techniques!  


Read the AAFP/ISFM Feline Friendly Handling Guidelines for the latest recommendations

  • One of the keys to low stress kitty restraint is to let the cat pick the spot.  An exam table, ideally covered with soft towel or blanket, is the most common spot if a kitty is tolerating it well. Some cats will do better if they are allowed to sit in their carriers with the top removed.  Cats often feel secure if there are sides around them.  Some will even be content to be examined on a kitty weight scale if it also has sides.  Some cats may prefer to be examined on the floor, on a counter, on a chair, or on a lap. 

    For safety sake, owners should not assist with restraint, and should keep fingers away from the mouth, a frightened or startled kitty, may inadvertently bite even their owner. 

  • Most cats do best with the least amount of restraint.  However, there are times, for instance when we are trying to draw a blood sample, when we must have the kitty be completely still. We try to start with the most gentle and most minimal restraint techniques first. 

  • Using a treat of super tasty food to distract a kitty can be especially helpful during vaccinations or blood draws. It can help to bring your kitty a little bit hungry so that the treats are more attractive. 

  • Gently massaging a kitty around the ears or neck can also distract them from the procedure and help them relax.  Most cats that are being restrained do not like to be aggressively stroked or petted down the lengths of their bodies.  Many cats are over stimulated from stroking. 

  • Using a thick bath towel or blanket to roll the cat's body into a swaddling "Kitty Burrito" is another gentle method that we frequently use. Many animals, including cats, will respond and relax to gentle pressure against their body, the towel or blanket can provide this gentle pressure.  Some cats will do better if their heads, or at least their eyes, are slightly covered. Many cats feel safe if they are hiding in a blanket. This is our favorite and most frequently used method of restraint and most cats do very well with this method.

  • Some cats will relax if they wear a kitty muzzle that not only covers the mouth, but also the eyes, while leaving the nose open for breathing.  Cats like to hide when they are fearful.  Many cats feel if they cannot see us they are hiding!

  • A gentle method to help control the head is the Towel Neck Wrap, this technique uses a kitchen towel rolled into a thick tube that is gently wrapped around the neck, resembling a thick turtle neck sweater, this then becomes a soft handle and a very gentle method of restraining the head.

  • Sometimes a technique called "Scruffing" is needed.  This technique can be gently done by holding the loose skin on the back of the neck.  Some cats will relax with this technique, while some may become more fractious. This method is derived from the natural behavior of the mother cat when she holds her kittens by the "scruff" of the neck, this causes the baby kitten to relax.  Since some cats resent this type of restraint we so only use it when other methods are not working, and only if the kitty does not resist more when we attempt it.  This technique is not for every situation or every cat! We use it very sparingly!


    "CLIPNOSIS" is another method recently developed at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary medicine that uses a unique and very humane variation of scruffing. We have tried the clips on our own skin and they do not "Pinch" but instead apply gentle pressure. This gentle restraint method can often be used by owners at home! We find clipnosis most helpful when we start this with young kittens and let them get used to it!  It is not a technique we can use on all cats.

    Ohio State University's "CLIPNOSIS" Technique Can Calm Cats

    CLIPNOSIS The Gentle Calming Clip
    , How "CLIPNOSIS" Works

    CLIPNOSIS The Gentle Calming Clip Video

    Video: A real life example of Clipnosis in action!

  • When it comes to feline restraint techniques, one size does not fit all!  We will work with your kitty to find the technique for which he or she shows the most comfort.