Hi, and welcome back.
I wanted to talk to you today about crating your cat. Now, I know that this can be a little bit of a controversial topic, but I also think that this can be a really amazing opportunity for you and your cat to establish the kind of routine that will make a huge impact on your cat's life.
The first thing I'm going to talk about is travel. being confined can be extremely stressful. They're not used to it, they're not used to being in the car, they're not used to being outside sometimes. And it can be a huge stressor for them and having stress to that level is something that you really want to alleviate for them. The crate and the carrier should not be such a big deal. They should be a place that they're used to. It should feel like home and actually should feel like a place that is sheltering them.
This is a big deal for cats, feeling like they get to hide someplace actually decreases their cortisol level (cortisol is a stress hormone). This comes from a study that saw what were the effects of stress, and in this case, it was just a simple change in routine - just to give you an idea of how much this can impact your cat's physiologic state - and they saw that the cats were getting significantly stressed about what they did see is that hiding, so having something they could hide under actually lower their stress level. It literally reduce their cortisol level. And it's something that is so simple that you can do to make your cat feel more comfortable.
Now, following this is the second reason why I think crate training for cats is so important is vet visits. Obviously, our cats are not used to being outside or if they're used to being outside, they're used to being outside in their own territory, and we take them to a veterinary clinic, which is a completely new place, completely new smells, particularly. This is huge, right?
Usually there's other animals who are in distress and sometimes when we take them, maybe something is wrong with them. And we are kind of upset ourselves. I know that when I go, I am definitely not cool, calm and collected. Maybe I look it because, you know, I have to appear for what I'm doing. But inside, I am really worried and really stressed. And you know how sensitive our animals are and how well they know us. So they are going to feed off of that and having to be in a crate when they're not used to it really adds on to the stress. Now, there is actually medical reasons as to why it's so important for your cat to be comfortable being in the crate. The first thing I'm going to talk to you about is something that's called physiologic leukocytosis.
It's a huge difficult word. Physiologic means it's normal, leukocytosis it means that the white blood cells, so basically the cells of the immune system (what protects your cat from disease) are elevated so the numbers are higher. And what happens inside of your cat's body basically is when it's stressed your cat's body goes "Okay, there is a problem we need to fight!" It's possible that the cat might get into a fight, right? And what do cats do when they fight? they scratch each other.
Okay, so your cat's body is thinking, "Okay, I might be scratched, there might be bacteria coming. I need to get all of my immune defenses mobilized and ready to fight whatever infection might be trying to establish itself after the fight". And this means that their blood values are actually twice as high or more than what is normal. And while in a normal visit... so if you're doing normal wellness visits, and you're taking lab work for your cat, year by year, you can kind of see what is normal for your cat and that is why actually I recommend wellness visits so much. But obviously, if you're going to the vet because your cat is not feeling well, you don't want to have the lab work be skewed.
Vets actually use obviously the visit that they do, they have several things and techniques that they can use, but one of the things that they use is lab work. So what does the blood of your cat say about its state of health, and having values that are completely skewed, while your vet knows that this is normal, so they expect it, but it can actually hide other things that your cat is actually having. So your vet would not be able to see certain changes, because your cat is stressed, their white blood cells are very hard. So if we can lower the stress and make it so that this huge increase is actually a little bit smaller, it would be really beneficial.
I'm going to quote a couple of journal articles that I thought were important.
There was a study that looked at blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate in cats, when they were at home and when they were in veterinary hospital (at a vet's office), and they did see that there was a difference: heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate were significantly elevated. Very, very high. And initially... - this is what, you know, it's mind boggling about this - initially, in veterinary medicine, it was believed that cats actually had higher respiratory rate and higher blood pressure than other species. And they assumed that this was normal. But then they actually started looking into what might be causing stress in cats. And they realized that when they are at home, they actually have levels that are quite lower compared to the levels that they have when they're at the vet. Now this can happen to all of us, it can happen to you and I, when we go to the hospital, maybe we don't like needles, we don't love being in a hospital, we're not so comfortable, maybe you're not feeling well. And this can happen obviously for dogs and for horses. But in cats, it's significantly higher. And when you are taking your cat again to the vet because they're not feeling well you really want their house to be evaluated.
From another point of view, the other study saw that there was a clear relationship between a cat struggling and its glucose level meaning blood sugar levels. Now this can also be physiologically normal in cats as well. When they are stressed, their blood sugar goes way high. You know just as well as I do that your cat can be sleeping and you know snoring away sometimes you know, twitching because they're dreaming and then a bird lands outside the window and they are UP! They can really go zero to 100 in like less than a second. Right? And then, you know, bird goes away and they just, calm down and go back to sleep. And you and I probably wouldn't be able to do it. I don't know if you'd be able to do it. I definitely cannot, once I am awake, my adrenaline is going and you know, that's the end of my sleep, but they can go so easily from super low end to hunt mode, so their bodies are actually made to accommodate this.
And so what happens is glucose is energy for the cells of their body. And so when they have that moment of stress, their body goes "Okay, it's fight time, we need energy" and it releases all of that glucose. Now, this is not the greatest thing that you want when you are taking your cat to the vet. Because obviously, it could be that your cat has no problems with glucose, so it has no issues with pre-diabetes or diabetes. But if they do, you want that those levels to be as close to actual levels as possible. Now, obviously, for diabetes, there's actually different markers that your vet so different things in the blood that you can look at, to evaluate, you know, whether they do have diabetes or not, and they usually use them. But why not get the best lab work that you can since you're getting it done? Why short your cat's health in that department?
And finally, when your cat is at the vet's office, I think some of you have already seen this. If your cat is used to being in a crate, it's actually going to feel safe, right? We saw what the literature said. We also saw that when a cat is struggling, you know, glucose levels can go up. But if your cat is used to their crate, when the vet is done manipulating them and chucking them, they can easily put them back in the crate, and your cat will relax. And what is great about this is that we saw literature told us that when cats hide their stress level, come down, okay? Finally, it is possible that your cat might have to spend time at the vet. This might be just because you are sterilizing them or neutering them, they need to have their teeth clean and some vets will actually ask you to bring the animals who have to have surgery in the morning, then they keep them at the vets and then when they have all the animals they actually go through all of the surgeries basically one after the other. This ensures that anaesthesia times are decreased and your cat gets the best quality care that it can because vets don't have to negotiate with new animals coming in and talking to people, so they can concentrate on the job that they have to do, which is to take the best care of your cat that they can. So if your cat is not used to being in a crate, you're going to put in a crate and travel, take it to the vet, which is stressful as well and then finally put them in a crate at the vet. Now for cats, usually they're a little bit bigger because sometimes they can house cats and dogs, but if your cat is not used to being confined, it's very stressful.
Imagine being stressful for 12 hours because maybe you have to bring him in the morning and get them in the afternoon. Imagine maybe your cat has to spend the night into the vet for whatever reason for observation or because they're in intensive care and they are in an environment that they're not used to and they are also caged in. You know how free and independent cats are. This sense of independence is so important and is so the base of who cats are. And you really want to be able to limit their space when it's necessary without stressing them so much. And this is why crate training is so important.
Where any of these surprising to you? Did any of them shift your thinking and put you in the kind of in the mindset of "Maybe crate training might be right for you and your cat"? Please leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear your point of view, I'd love to have a discussion about it. If you are thinking you might like to create your cat, do check out in the description below. I have a link to my website. I have a downloadable for you, that has all everything that we talked about. It has links to the studies that I told you about. And it also has a printable that you can use to stick on your fridge to remind you what some of the steps are and some of the things that you can do to incorporate great training into your daily routine and really stress free, simple way.
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