Rule #2 of Animal Restraint: Stay Calm

24 Sep

As I said (repeatedly) in the last post, this is imperative, but difficult to do.  Practice and confidence in your skills is ultimately the best way to feel calm when restraining a fractious animal.  Here are some tips:

Do what you need to and extricate any FEAR of a furious cat/animal.  Being afraid will only hold you back and make this process, just worse.  You can’t be calm and execute your best skill-set and mental preparedness plan if you are busy being scared of sharp-edges.

Gather yourself before jumping in.  When I am about to take vitals (or do anything) with an obviously irate animal, I’ll just leave it in the carrier at first.  I’ll give everyone a little time and see if things calm down.  Usually the owners are just as ramped up as their pet, so I’ll open the kennel door, but leave the growling cat in its carrier and start taking the history.

While you’re doing that keep an eye on the cat and read its body language.  You can ascertain if the cat CAN calm down with slow and quiet procedure, or if it is going to aggress.  Some times the cat will walk out on its own accord, take in its surroundings, and be manageable.  Yanking a stressed cat out of the box right after it gets out of the car and into a new hospital, is NOT the way to maximize success.

A truly fractious animal won’t calm down no matter how much time it is given to acclimate to its new surroundings.  But you can–and you can help the owners slow down, by s-l-o-w-i-n-g down.  It sounds super-hokey, but I actually take the time to get out the lavender oil and spread it on a paper towel.  I have no idea if the aromatherapy works, but it’s time taken to slow things down, and I think it at the very least shows the owner you care about their cat’s comfort.  And maybe it works to soothe the owners +/- the cat. . .  Ask the owner about the history in a quieter voice, and if they’re still reaching in to try to yank their cat–tell them to just leave it, you’ll ask them some questions first.  Take control of the situation, which will make you feel better and calmer.

Next, I prepare.  Get everything out that you will need.  Before having a sharp, loaded object in my hands, I’ll grab towel and gloves.  I’ll formulate my emergency plan then too.  Also, get out the supplies needed for the task.  Gather yourself by taking a deep breath.  Then restrain away.

If people around you are getting as excited as the cat, just remember to breathe and make deliberate movements.  A fractious cat HATES movement, so find a good grip then try to stay still.  It’s all about the cat’s body language and what it will tolerate best.

Control your adrenaline, by doing the opposite of what you feel like doing:  Make an effort to move slow, talk quietly–since adrenaline is coursing through your body, you’re also all speeded up–so what feels super slow at the time, is just normal speed.

That’s it for tips on this section.  Staying calm in a situation that is not soothing in the least is difficult and an acquired skill.  And probably based a lot on temperament (yours, your vets, and any co-workers, and owners to a lessor extent) and environment.  If you are able to master it, it will make you excellent at restraint though.

Part three finale will be next:  Cheerleading-yay!


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