The only time most cats are put into their carrier is when they go to the veterinarian, so it’s no wonder they get freaked out as soon as their carrier comes out of the cupboard. A lot of the stress that cats experience related to the vet visit happens before they actually see the vet. With a little preparation, you can help to ensure your cat (and you) have a stress-free visit to the vet.
Before you go to the vet
Make the carrier less scary. Chances are, the only time your cat sees their carrier is when you’re about to take them to the vet. You can make the carrier less scary by setting it up like a safe place they can hang out in on a regular basis. To entice them into their carrier, make it a comfortable place they want to spend time by putting a blanket, a toy, and treats inside (this also gives them a familiar smell of home). You can also feed them inside the carrier to get them more acclimated to being in it. Just by seeing the carrier in their everyday environment, your cat will become more used to it and avoid the dread they feel when it mysteriously shows up out of the blue.
Keep your cat calm. Calming pheromones can help your cat calm themselves in their carrier. Simply spray a spritz or two in their carrier the night before the appointment and again on the day of the appointment to allow the pheromones to calm your cat.
Consider catnip. This herb can relax your cat, helping them associate a trip to the vet something a lot more fun. Catnip’s effects typically only last for 5–15 minutes, but it doesn’t affect all cats. Occasionally, cats will become agitated when they smell catnip, so it’s a good idea to give your cat a trial dose first to see how (and if) they react before you ever need it for a trip to the vet.
Get your cat used to being handled. Practice holding your cat and examining them from head to tail. This will help your cat feel less stressed when the vet or veterinary technician gives them an exam.
Bring your cat on car rides. It’s likely that the only time your cat rides in the car is on the way to the vet. You can try to disassociate car rides with a trip to the vet to reduce their stress. Some cats will never get used to car rides, but others just need a few minutes in the car or a couple drives around town that doesn’t end up at the vets to help calm their nerves.
Consider visiting a cat-friendly vet. Did you know that our Stocksfield and Bellingham surgeries are Cat Friendly Accredited practices? This means our wonderful staff are trained to keep cats calmer and the surgeries have dedicated waiting areas for you and your cat!
At the vets
Keep your cat in their carrier. When you get to the vet and are in the waiting room, keep your cat in their carrier. Keep the carrier off the floor to make your cat feel more secure (and prevent curious dogs from peeking in and frightening your cat). With many people and animals in the same room, most cats will feel safer and less stressed in their carrier.
Schedule visits during “quiet” times. We fully understand how stressed cats can get by coming to the vets. We encourage our clients to not be shy and feel free to ask us for an appointment when it may be a little quieter, like our first appointment of the day, or maybe our last. We are here to help, never be afraid to ask!
Bring something from home. An item in their carrier like a blanket from home can help bring your cat comfort while waiting to be seen. If your cat needs to spend a night at the vet, make sure to bring an item from home like their favourite blanket or toy to help them settle easier.
Consider medications and supplements. If your cat has a history of being stressed when visiting the vet or is still stressed after trying the steps above, chat with your veterinarian prior to your next appointment. They may be able to recommend medications and/or supplements that can help reduce your cat’s anxiety and allow them to do better with their vet visits. If you feel like this may be of help, then make use of our promotion at the moment of 10% off Feliway!