The first step to making a cat’s vet experience comfortable starts long before the appointment. The first thing to consider will be transportation. Transportation planning starts by getting the appropriate carrier for your cat. Either hard or soft carriers can work for cats, but make sure to choose one that’s big enough for your cat to lie down and turn around in. Try to avoid a carrier that’s too large for the cat to feel secure in, though. Also, try to pick a carrier that has at least two openings and can be easily taken apart so your cat can use it as a bed during the examination.
After you find the right carrier, the next step will be making your cat familiar with the carrier so there is no stress during transportation and so your cat doesn’t fear it. Here are some tips for helping your cat get used to the carrier:
- Play with your cat around the carrier.
- For older cats who might be afraid of it, take the carrier out of storage and bring it into your house a couple of weeks before the appointment.
- Place treats, toys and catnip inside.
- Feed your cat in or near the carrier.
- Bring the carrier into a place where your cat already likes to rest.
- Place a towel that has been infused with pheromones inside the carrier or place an object or piece of clothing permeated with your scent on the carrier. This will help your cat feel safe.
When placing the carrier in the car, place it on the floor behind the passenger’s seat. It’s also advised to cover 3 sides of the carrier with a towel to give your cat the option to look outward for greater visual stimulation or inward for less visual stimulation. Soft music or no music is recommended during transportation.
When arriving at the clinic, please watch for any possible signs of fear, anxiety or stress in your cat. For example, some cats demonstrate anxiety by panting or increasing vocalization. If you notice any of these signs, please advise a receptionist so your cat can be transported into an exam room right away. It is also advised to carry the carrier steadily and evenly, if possible, and to avoid carrying it by the handle if it makes the carrier swing, which can cause the cat anxiety.
If your cat still experiences anxiety during transport and while at the veterinary appointment, please talk to one of our staff members. We strive to do our best to make your cat’s visits as comfortable as possible!