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Terrible trip to the vet :(

Napoleon

Savannah Super Cat
#1
Two days ago we took Napoleon to his first trip (with us) to the vet. The vet was arrogant, had not bothered to look up the breed (I had given his office advance notice) and seemed dismissive of our breeder's recommendation for killed vaccines. So I thanked him for his time and left. Today we tried a new vet, a man known to be "Noah-like" with his ability with animals. We chatted with him a bit while Napoleon was in his carrier. Then we let Napoleon out, and he would NOT let the vet touch him. He hissed like I have never seen him hiss before, even at me when I tried to pick him up. The vet said it was the worst first visit of an animal that he had ever seen, and was not able to give Napoleon his rabies vaccine. Could not even weigh him, nada. I told him that Napoleon was not used to being picked up; that he had scratched me when I first ever picked him up so we tend to leave him be until he comes to us for affection. He told me that was a mistake, that we should have had him used to being picked up from day one. We have had him two months - is it too late? Today I pet him and he nipped at me. so I kept following him around and petting him until he stopped nipping. As per Per's advice, I was trying to show him that nipping is not acceptable and would not stop me from petting him. Then I played with him for an hour. Then I went to pet him, and he hissed. This is all very frustrating - they are supposed to be such an affectionate breed which is why we got him, but the vet is warning that he is going to get bigger and worse. What can we do? (Personally, I take that with a grain of salt as he has never had experience with Savannahs, but as it stands, I can't get Napoleon treated at all :( )
 

Ashley

Savannah Super Cat
#2
In our experience, we just had to find the vet that meshed well with Kovu. We did Banfield at first, because it was located in Petsmart, where we'd buy his food, and it was just right up the road from our house. Kovu does NOT like the ladies at Banfield! Always hisses, tries to run, hide, jump do whatever he can to get away from them.

I decided that was enough & we'd try a different vet. We tried a smaller, local vet who was AWESOME with him. He loved her right away & purred the whole time.

Good luck, I can imagine how frustrating that'd be.
 

Wyldthingz

Savannah Super Cat
#3
Gosh, yes, frustrating. Once again, I feel like a broken record lately, but was Nepoleon that way from the beginning? Socialization of kittens, any breed, is imperative but especially Savannah, as they have a wild heritage and they get judged more harshly. If you purchase a poorly socialized Savannah, that doesn't mean that Savannahs are bad tempered, it means that your kitten didn't get the handling it needed. Yes, some are more reactive at the vet or when scared. Even my 62% F1 IS good at the vet because she trusts people and doesn't fear being touched, transported, handled, etc. She is sort of a pain in the butt to trim her nails but that isn't because she is bad but because she is big and hard to hold. I have to sit on her.
Baby steps is essential now and there are a lot of older posts regarding Savannahs that are not social here that will help you.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
#4
Some Savannahs just do not like being handled or picked up, particularly the early generations; they prefer to show affection on their own terms. It does not mean he is a bad cat or poorly socialized. On the other hand, hissing when being petted or approached is somewhat concerning. Does he normally hiss at you or did this just start after the vet visit? I would continue to do what you are doing by trying to physically interact with him on a progressively increasing scale as he is able to tolerate. I would not force him to submit to being picked up, but start with baby steps and gradually increase your physical interaction with him over time.
 
#5
And the vet is right- it will get worse as he gets bigger if you don't nip it in the bud now! BUT that's the same as a Saint Bernard puppy that nips and you think it's funny- not so funny as a 200 pound adult! That is just good honest advice from someone who sees puppies/kitties come in on a daily basis with bad behavior and the owners never correct it and then they don't know why the dogs/cats are snots later on down the road!

My very first F2 baby here- he was a doll baby. Little did I expect him to FREAK THE BLEEP OUT at the vet! The SECOND my vet touched him- very gently- he puffed up twice his size and did a back flip right off the table onto the floor! He did NOT want her touching him at all!

So she backed off and we started doing positive reinforcement for vet visits- treats he really liked only when he went in the crate/saw the vet/etc. She went slower with him, lowered her voice to even quieter then normal, wasn't as busy walking into the room (you know how most vets bustle- well, my vet does- she is always hopping!). And guess what? He is fine at the vet and was fine with his new vet when he first went home at 14 weeks.

So... Work on socializing him more at home and I'd say positive reinforcement in the crate and at the vet. I'd recommend you ask if you can go to the vet with him, bring him in the exam room, treat him, and then go back home every couple of days (or once a week or whatever).

SOCIALIZATION IS SO IMPORTANT OF A JOB for breeder and owner.
 

admin

Paige
Staff member
#6
So... Work on socializing him more at home and I'd say positive reinforcement in the crate and at the vet. I'd recommend you ask if you can go to the vet with him, bring him in the exam room, treat him, and then go back home every couple of days (or once a week or whatever).

SOCIALIZATION IS SO IMPORTANT OF A JOB for breeder and owner.
I agree with Trish! I did this with Zuri when I wanted to show her....I got Zuri and 16 weeks and she was well socialized at home, at the vet and everywhere else. But I wanted to keep it that way, so I brought her to the vet every few days to visit...this way she rode in the car and was around many people, noises, etc.

Then I began bringing her to Petco, so she would get used to dogs and other animals...

She did fine until hormones kicked in as far as showing goes..but even now, she is well socialized as is Taj as are my kittens...actually when Taj goes to the vet, he takes over the exam room and my vet allows this...my vet does not restrain any of my cats and does things on Taj's terms...Taj has never bitten or gone after anyone there, although it does take four people to hold him down for blood and not because he bites or anything, but because he is big and strong and wiggles out of their grasp...

That being said...Taj and Zuri will hiss at times at the vet, but that is just the nature where they are...it is all talk though...no action ;)
 
M

MK Anderson

Guest
#7
Two days ago we took Napoleon to his first trip (with us) to the vet. The vet was arrogant, had not bothered to look up the breed (I had given his office advance notice) and seemed dismissive of our breeder's recommendation for killed vaccines. So I thanked him for his time and left. Today we tried a new vet, a man known to be "Noah-like" with his ability with animals. We chatted with him a bit while Napoleon was in his carrier. Then we let Napoleon out, and he would NOT let the vet touch him. He hissed like I have never seen him hiss before, even at me when I tried to pick him up. The vet said it was the worst first visit of an animal that he had ever seen, and was not able to give Napoleon his rabies vaccine. Could not even weigh him, nada. I told him that Napoleon was not used to being picked up; that he had scratched me when I first ever picked him up so we tend to leave him be until he comes to us for affection. He told me that was a mistake, that we should have had him used to being picked up from day one. We have had him two months - is it too late? Today I pet him and he nipped at me. so I kept following him around and petting him until he stopped nipping. As per Per's advice, I was trying to show him that nipping is not acceptable and would not stop me from petting him. Then I played with him for an hour. Then I went to pet him, and he hissed. This is all very frustrating - they are supposed to be such an affectionate breed which is why we got him, but the vet is warning that he is going to get bigger and worse. What can we do? (Personally, I take that with a grain of salt as he has never had experience with Savannahs, but as it stands, I can't get Napoleon treated at all :( )
Yes, frustrating! I would not think too much into the hissing at the vet and you tho. I have a very sweet boy at home, but if you take him ANYWHERE out of the house he turns into the DEVIL !!! it's pretty normal for some cats.
 

Patty

Breeding Savannahs for the Home
#8
I agree with everything that has been said, but I have a couple of F2's that have to be sedated when they go to the vet or else they can't be examined. I also have an F4 that has to be up on my shoulders or she won't let the vet do anything with her :)
 

NikkiA

Site Supporter
#9
My boys go to the vet together. Diablo LOVES our vet, he thinks that he is just fantastic. Jarvis, on the other hand, is not so enthusiastic. In his first visit, Jarvis bit the vet.

So, I have learned that any time Jarvis has to go, Diablo comes too. They ride together in the same carrier, and I find that as soon as we arrive, and go into the exam room, Diablo comes right out to say hello to the technicians and the vet, and Jarvis will follow him out of the carrier and is considerably calmer than he is if i bring him alone.

When the vet comes in, Diablo runs right over to say hello, and by the time the vet is ready to handle Jarvis he has explored his surroundings and watched Diablo say hello to the vet, and is a whole lot calmer.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, i do have to make a disclaimer here- the first time the vet gave Jarvis a shot, Jarvis screamed his head off, and Diablo rushed in to his rescue and actually bit the vet's leg. That is the only time Diablo has ever been anything but a total love; the vet explained to me that D was reacting to Jarvis, then a 10 week old kitten, being scared, and defending him; i was much more upset by the behavior than the vet was (Now when Jarvis gets a shot, I hold D, and he whines, but the vet emerges unscathed). If you do have a kitty that likes the vet, i would take that cat as well as Napoleon; his comfort and confidence may help Napoleon the way Diablo's helps Jarvis calm down.

I have also had similar issues with Jarvis not wanting to be picked up or handled by me. I do pick him up, daily, but I hold him gently, for the smallest amount of time possible, i tell him he is a good boy, and when I put him down, I give him a treat. This is something my vet suggested; Jarvis is bonded to my husband; me not so much- the positive reinforcement has been helping me to handle him more (which I need to be able to do). We play every day, and I do pet him every day, but I probably only pet him for a total of 30 seconds on most days. I only approach him to pet him when his ears are forward and he is laying down, and I only touch him until his body language starts to tell me he has had enough, at which point I leave him be. For quite a while after he came home, he tended to use his claws aggressively if I did something that he did not like. He didn't hiss, he just swatted or bit. That behavior has since abated; he no longer attempts to swat me or bite me if I do something he doesn't like. He may lay back his ears, and get squirmy if I am holding him, but he has stopped going for me with teeth and claws. I don't know much about cats, I have a lot to learn, but I feel like I was inadvertently stressing him before, and now, I feel like he is less stressed as we both learning to understand each others' boundaries. Is he ever terribly likely to pop on my lap and rub his face into mine? Probably not. But boy does it feel good when he follows me around the house or meets me at the front door to say hello when i come home.
 

Napoleon

Savannah Super Cat
#10
Thanks to you all for such great feedback! I am going to attempt another trip to the vet next week, so let's hope it goes well. When we came home last time, I went to pet Napoleon and he tried to nip. I kept following him around and just touched him, until he realized that nipping at me was no use. So he stopped! However, he is still afraid of me - he connects me with the awful vet trip I am sure. But it should get better soon... I since clicker trained him to sit on a mat and go up onto a stool, so there is hoep for good behaviour rewards too. Good thing is, the other night I fell asleep on the couch and woke up and he was on my lap... so all is not lost. And I am not going to let the vet's reaction scare us. Napoleon is only 5 months old and jumps on us all but I am sure it is just to play. I have told the kids to play with him lots when they first come home and then he will be calmer after all. Bottom line, we think he is great so will keep at it and remember to be slow and steady! Thanks again you are all a great big help and reassurance :) (And I do think he was well socialized at the breeder's house, maybe he lost a bit due to kids being a bit wary of him!) They too are getting more confident around him. He is BIG.