For most cats, a visit to the vet can be filled with lots of unfamiliar experiences: getting into a cat carrier, being in the car and experiencing new sights and smells at the vet’s office. If the thought of taking your cat to the vet makes you a little tense, here are some tips to make your next visit less stressful for both of you:
Familiarize your cat with its carrier, not just on vet days. Leave the carrier out in a room that your cat frequents and line the carrier with some comfortable bedding or clothing with your scent. Some cats may need some added incentive like treats or toys placed inside.
Don’t force your cat into its carrier on vet days. It’s important that your cat associates its carrier with positive experiences. Try to lure your cat into its carrier with some treats or toys, or if the carrier opens from the top, gently place your cat inside the carrier and replace the top half.
Choose the right carrier for your cat. If you have a front- or top-opening carrier that involves having to pull your cat out to be examined, consider using a carrier with a removable top half. Often your vet will be able to perform an exam with your cat still in the lower half of its carrier, which can be useful if your cat is in pain or anxious about leaving its carrier. Remember, when buying a cat carrier, it should have enough room for your cat to stand, turn around and stretch.
A room without a view. While some cats enjoy being able to see out, some cats find it stressful seeing new surroundings. If your cat tends to be anxious on the way to the vet, try placing a blanket or towel over the carrier to block out the view.
Waiting room stress. It’s natural for your cat to be anxious around so many unfamiliar animals and people. Resist the urge to pick up your cat; your cat will feel safer in its carrier. You can also try to schedule your appointment during off-peak times at your vet’s office. Keep the cat carrier covered and off the floor and as far away from other animals as possible. Ask your veterinary hospital staff beforehand if you can go directly into a private exam room immediately upon arrival.
Getting your cat to the vet is bound to cause some stress for them, but by having a calm routine and offering your cat plenty of love and affection, you can help make the trip a little bit more comfortable!