Minimizing your cat’s stress during the veterinary visit starts at home. Here are some tips for getting your cat to the vet.
The Cat Carrier
The cat carrier is the safest way to transport your cat, but many cats dislike or fear being inside the carrier. Teach your cat to like the carrier by making it a comfortable and familiar place. Set up the cat carrier within your home with a comfy bed inside, allowing your cat to rest inside the carrier anytime she wishes. Feed your cat, offer treats, offer catnip, or play games using the cat carrier to build positive associations with the carrier. Never, ever, force your cat in or out of the carrier. Instead, try coaxing your cat in with treats. If your cat won’t go in on her own, remove the lid and gently place her inside instead of forcing her in.
The Car Ride
Many cats are afraid of the car. Watching the world zoom by can be disorienting or may even cause your cat to feel motion sickness. To make the car ride more comfortable, always secure the carrier on the floor board or in a seat with a seat belt. Try draping a towel or blanket over the carrier to make the car ride less scary. If your cat gets sick during the car ride, talk to your veterinarian about treatment options for motion sickness.
At the Vet Clinic
Avoid setting the cat carrier on the floor; cats prefer to observe their surroundings from a high vantage point. To help your kitty feel safe, always place the carrier on a raised surface. Again, never force your cat in or out of the carrier. If your kitty is reluctant to come out on her own, try coaxing her out with treats or a toy. Carriers that have a removable lid work best for shy cats who prefer to be examined within the carrier. At South Austin Cat Hospital, we will work with your cat wherever she is most comfortable, and we will offer climbing and hiding places to your kitty during the exam.
Coming home after a veterinary visit can be stressful, especially in a multi-cat household. Cats recognize one another through scent, and cats pick up all kinds of strange smells by going to the vet! Help your kitty relax after the vet visit by giving her a quiet room to be alone in for a while. This will help your cat reacclimate to your home and reestablish the familiar home smell.
The synthetic pheromone Feliway can have a calming effect on cats. Consider wiping the carrier, spraying the car, or using a plug-in diffuser to help your cat feel safe.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) offers a brochure with more tips for getting your cat to the vet. If you need further assistance, please give our office a call!