Visits to the vet clinic can be very stressful for both you and your cat. There are a few things we can do to make the process as calm and comfortable as possible.
The first step is getting your cat into a travel carrier. ALWAYS use a carrier to transport your cat. A leash can become tangled and does not restrain your cat in the car. It’s much safer for you and your cat if they are contained during travel. Also the carrier can act as a barrier to other patients if they happen to meet in the lobby or outside the clinic.
- Look for a sturdy carrier with a top that can be lifted off easily (latches instead of screws, etc.) and that has proper ventilation. Exams and treatments can sometimes be done with the cat remaining in their carrier if the top can be removed. This type of carrier also makes removal of the cat much simpler!
Check out the links below for some examples of carriers that work well in the clinic.
Days BEFORE the appointment place the opened carrier in an undisturbed area that your cat likes to spend time in. You may want to give your cat some treats in the carrier each day before the appointment date or play with toys in and around the carrier.
- Place a face cloth that you have rubbed on your cat’s face in the kennel to make it smell like ‘home’. Some owners find that a piece of their own clothing can have a calming effect as well. Including some familiar toys and soft bedding can help too!
- If your cat has vomited on previous car rides, avoid feeding him or her for a couple hours prior to the trip.
- Feliway wipes or spray on the carrier and bedding can make a huge difference. Feliway is a feline facial pheromone that promotes a feeling of safety and calm. The clinic has these items available for purchase. We use Feliway diffusers and spray in the Cat Room for this purpose too!
- Some cats, including my own cat Monty, are calmed by wearing a Thundershirt. Thundershirts are vests that provide gentle pressure to help pets relax and have confidence during stressful situations. Monty would YOWL the whole way in before I discovered the Thundershirt. Now it’s a much quieter and smoother ride for both of us!
- After your cat is in the carrier you may want to place a towel or blanket over top to filter out the sights and sounds.
- On your way to the animal clinic try to drive as smoothly as possible and reduce noise (radio, honking, etc.). Instead speak to your cat in a normal, soothing voice. Try to remain as calm as possible throughout the visit yourself (even if it did not go well last year!) as our pets can sense fear/anxiety and will often mirror these feelings.
- We try to move cats into the ‘Cats Only’ room as soon as they arrive at the clinic. This allows them to settle in and check out their surroundings before the examination. If you have to spend time in the lobby, keep the carrier covered and sit as far away from dogs as possible.
- For Multi-Cat Households: When you return home, take a cloth and rub the other cats with it. Then take the same cloth and rub the returning cat with it. This transfer of ‘smells’ can help prevent fighting among housemates after a trip away from home.
Try not to worry if your cat seems unhappy after the visit to vet clinic. The stress experienced is not harmful to your cat or your relationship. It is a necessary part of being a cat owner/servant and is the best way to ensure your cat remains a healthy part of your family for many years!
Written by: Kaila Montgomerie, RVT