Medical training applied to cats: what is it?

Medical Training Applied To Cats: What Is It?

The cat, even more than the dog, is an animal difficult to handle, to brush, to look after. To remedy this, a method is currently all the rage: medical training. This consists of teaching your animal, gently and with pleasure, to endure grooming or care. It can be taught at any age and it is even possible to put an end to an aversion developed in adult animals.

Discover basics of medical training to build your pet’s confidence and succeed in taking care of him without conflict, stress and fights!

Medical Training, What Is It?

Cats generally don’t like restraint. They like to feel free in their movements. Very quickly, when held down, they become stressed and may react aggressively. The goal of medical training is to make them associate restraint or any other usually unpleasant manipulation to an emotion of pleasure, provoked by a reward. Gradually, we will offer them gestures that they are not used to and with which they are not comfortable, but by giving them treats.

Where Does Medican Training Come From?

Originally, the goal was to allow veterinarians to treat animals, but the method has spread to individuals for grooming sessions for long-haired cats and various home treatments (eye drops, cleaning of teeth and ears, etc.).
The method concerns any animal capable of learning, whether domestic or wild. Moreover, the technique was first applied in zoos on subjects for whom anesthesia presented too many risks. Dogs are also excellent candidates for medical training.

Is This Technique Based On Studies?

On the cat, a veterinarian, Jessica Lockhart, showed in 2013 the effectiveness of medical training for successful blood tests without causing virulent reactions. American veterinary associations have also confirmed the benefit of this practice, particularly when administering oral tablets. Studies have not yet been completed on the subject, but the implementation of this practice is very encouraging when we observe the results. For an individual, it requires a lot of patience and a good knowledge of his companion.

How To Implement Medical Training With A Cat?

Medical training is a long-term exercise, of patience, even more for cats than for dogs.

Can The Technique Be Applied To All Cats?

The younger the animal, the easier the placement will be. In addition, your little feline must be at least socialized and accustomed to humans. In an adult, the existence of what is called an aversion, when the animal has been traumatized by the gesture, complicates the course of training. But a cat can quickly be traumatized. In some subjects, it is enough that they have felt pain, even slight and even only once, to become distrustful and reactive. If their past can slow down the obtaining of the results, it does not however prevent the implementation of the medical training which will come to calm the animal and to make it more tolerant, whatever its age and its past.

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What Is The Goal Of The Workouts?

The exercises will be carried out as part of a routine, in a quiet room where your companion feels safe, with his owner, the one in whom he trusts.

Each exercise will have a specific objective, for example:

  • Clean his eyes;
  • Brush it;
  • Make him accept the transport box;
  • Pass him the mower;
  • Give her a pill;
  • Perform an injection if he is diabetic, for example;
  • Put a mask on him if he is asthmatic;
  • Contain it in a towel;
  • Sharpen his claws.

You can’t teach him everything at once. Each act will be the subject of training and exercises that will take place over several days or even several weeks.

How Is The Work Going?

We will implement these acts gradually and the learning speed will depend on the reactions of your little feline. It is therefore very important to observe his behavior so as not to insist when he returns signs of stress or refusal. It is also essential to choose a reward that gives him the most pleasure. This depends on his tastes.

In any case, the chosen treat should be devoted solely to medical training exercises. If your cat receives it outside, he will have no interest in complying with what is expected of him to benefit from it. Your animal must also be completely relaxed to initiate the first exercises of this long work.

You will therefore choose a place where he is comfortable (a table, for example) and give him a treat. You will create a first reflex to get him on the table. So, wiggle the bag of treats above the table, for example, and give him one when he gets on it. If he doesn’t go up, he gets nothing.

At first, go no further. You will teach him to get into position.
Then, little by little, with a treat at each phase, you will break down your gesture and reward it each time. When a first stage is acquired, you move on to the next one. If your cat returns a sign of refusal or fear, you stop and come back to it later. Your pet needs to understand that he keeps control of the situation and that it can stop whenever he wants. Understanding that he has a choice is what will make him confident.

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Let’s see a practical example with brushing.

Make Your Cat Accept Brushing Thanks To Medical Training

Your little feline has long hair, knots are pulling on his belly and you can no longer approach your hand without him dodging? Medical training is therefore made for him!

At first, as seen above, teach him to climb on the table where you will groom him. Then each gesture will be broken down he will therefore have to accept little by little:

  • That you approach the brush to his body;
  • That the brush touches his bristles in a “risk-free” zone (neck, nape of the neck, space between the ears, etc.), an area that does not put him in a state of insecurity;
  • Let the brush descend on more sensitive areas;
  • Let the brush approach her belly;
  • Let the brush comb the hairs gently.

The brush can be replaced by mower if the knots are really tight. In this case, it will be necessary to add a step related to the sound of the device. It will be necessary to turn it on without using it and get your pet used to hearing it.

Each of the above steps should be repeated several days in a row and accompanied by a reward. When your cat shows signs of refusal or stress, you stop and don’t give a treat. You only move on to the next phase when the previous one is assimilated and the cat sends back signals of acceptance. The animal always has a say and must systematically give its consent. This requires a lot of listening, patience and perseverance. Sometimes you may feel like you are going backwards, so you will have to go back to the previous step to get a better start.

When the work is perfectly successful, your cat climbs on the table by itself at your request and lets itself be brushed without stress.

Usually it lasts between 1 week and several months according to the animals, their past, their character, their connection with the person who carries out the exercises. While this may seem long, the results pay off enough to be worth the time spent. Thus, a moment of combat can be transformed into a moment of complicity and collaboration.

What Signs Does A Cat Send Back That Wants The Manipulations To Stop?

Some signs of anxiety in cats are easy to detect: the animal may growl, spit, meow, bite, claw or grab your hand with its front or rear paws and hold it. He then returns a sign of refusal and tells you “stop”.

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Some are content to squirm or curl up or even leave abruptly. Others turn their heads suspiciously or offended toward the area of ​​their body you are touching. There are some who roll back their ears or whose pupils dilate to such an extent that the color of their eyes is almost entirely masked by black, finally, they sometimes wag their tails in annoyance.

All these signs mark your cat’s disagreement. It is then advisable to stop what you are doing and let him come to his senses. In this case, do not give any more treats. Wait for him to return to a more friendly and relaxed state of mind.

When your cat goes into the next stage of fear, he may start panting, breathing with his mouth open, this indicates that you need to stop immediately.

In this case, either you stop completely and come back to it the next day, or you let a few minutes pass and try again a little later with the rewards. These signals are easy to interpret. But it also happens that a cat gets into totally passive position, which gives an impression of docility. However, your little feline can be totally stressed, so badly that it is paralyzed. We then speak off learned helplessness or learned resignation. This type of reaction is more difficult to see and understand.

Another unmistakable sign is refuse treats. When your cat is so annoyed that even rewards no longer have an effect on his attention, it’s time to leave him alone. It is then time to understand that he is not comfortable.

There are many signs of fatigue and stress in cats. It is very important to be able to detect them to stop the exercise. Otherwise, the animal will lose confidence and it will be more difficult to put the training back in place.

Today, some veterinarians carry out medical training and give courses on young animals to get them used to coming to a consultation in complete relaxation. But this technique is applicable to all ages and all cats that are used to humans. Everyone is a winner: the veterinarian who no longer has to fight with his 4-legged patient, the owner who is more serene, and, of course, the animal who is almost happy to come and receive his vaccines and other care!

You can also find training at feline behaviorists. Some online tutorials provide useful tips for doing exercises at home. Medical training improves the relationship of trust between the animal and its owner and it is ideal for little companions who need regular or recurring care.

  • That you approach your hand to his body;

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