Tips for Successful Feline Visits to the Veterinarian

We all want our kitties to have the best possible experience when coming to the vet so I hope you will find this helpful!

“Understand that most cats are pessimists-they assume the worst will happen. Try not to confirm it for them.”

The Cat's Point of View:

  • Your human shoves you into a carrier after chasing you around the house.
  • You endure an upsetting and unfamiliar car ride.
  • You arrive at a strange place where there are a lot of other animals, smells, and sounds.
  • Your senses of smell and hearing are heightened because you don’t like the unfamiliar.
  • A strange person dumps you onto the cold table.
  • You certainly don’t like strangers handling you.
  • These new and unwanted experiences make you fearful and anxious.
  • You are so frightened that you may urinate, defecate, or vomit.
  • You are likely to bite or scratch to defend yourself.
  • If you end of staying at this awful place, when you go home the other cats in the household don’t like you because you smell different.

With thoughts like that, who wouldn't be afraid of the vet?! However, by following the tips below I hope you and your kitty will have an awesome experience! It's best to start young but ANY cat can be trained!

Improving the Cat Carrier Experience:

Always transport your kitty in a carrier. Choose a carrier with a topthat easily opens or lifts off(like the picture to the right), or a soft carrier with sides that don’t sag inward on the cat.

Keep the carrier out at all times in a safe place (you may want to start in “convertible mode” with the top off), and randomly toss treats inside so it becomes seen as an automatic treat dispenser.

Periodically use an interactive toy (a fishing pole-type toy with feathers or fabric) to direct play to the carrier, encouraging the kitty to jump in and out.

Zip up or close the carrier with the cat inside, calmly pick up and take the carrier with you for just two steps, and the open it.  Over time, take your cat on longer tours of your home inside the carrier. If your cat is anxious you’ve done too much too fast; back up to whatever point in training your cat had accepted, and then proceed slowly.

Now that your cat is no longer anxious about the carrier itself, it’s time to teach the cat to jump inside the carrier on cue, using a treat or toy as motivation. For example, toss the toy inside and offer a cue such as “inside your house” as the cat jumps in. If you're still stuffing your cat inside, well, the point is that you shouldn’t need to do that. Remember, cats always do better when they believe something is their idea!

The Car Ride and Vet Visit:

Take the carrier with the cat to the car-but don’t turn on the engine. Sit there a few minutes, popping treats through the carrier telling your kitty how wonderful she is. Then take your kitty back inside the house and give her a meal. Once you get to this point with a still-happy cat, you're ready for a brief drive. 

Try to make the trip as rewarding as possible with calming conversation, treats popped through the closed carrier door or even play.  Keep the car windows closed and avoid loud music on the radio and sharp turns for the first few rides.

Spritz the inside of the carrier and blanket with Feliway (a synthetic copy of a cats friendly facial scents) at least 10 minutes prior to the trip

A big meal just before the car ride could cause an upset tummy for cats that get car sick. At the same time, taking food away for too long before a vet visit can create stress.

If your cat has a favorite toy, bring it along. Also bring a towel or blanket that has the scent of family members as well as your cats cat smell.  Place the blanky in the exam table and put your cat on it. 

In the veterinary waiting room, keep the carrier away from other animals, especially noisy or upset pets. Your lap is a good place for a carrier (the cat sees you and smells you and is off the ground). 

Bring cats in separate carriers: even well-bonded cats may become aggressive to each other if stressed.

Cover cat carriers while traveling, as cats are known to de-stress more quickly in the dark.

We are looking forward to your next awesome kitty visit!!!