One of the common challenges of having a feline member of the family is visiting the vet with your cat. A trip to the veterinarian can be more stressful for cats than for dogs.
An Aussie cats’ health awareness campaign called Have We Seen Your Cat Lately? was launched in 2017 in response to research revealing over a third (35%) of pet cats are not receiving regular veterinary care.
Here are some great tips from Village Vets, Dr Anthony Bennett and Dr James Carroll to make your visit to the vet with your cat more pleasant for everyone.
Visiting the vet with your cat: Tips for a stress-free appointment
- Buy a cat carrier
- Top-loading carriers make it easier to place your cat inside
- Carriers with a top and side opening have additional versatility
- If your carrier has a removable top, your cat may feel more secure remaining inside throughout the examination.
2. Practice at home, make your cat carrier a positive place
- Leave the carrier out for several days before the appointment so your cat gets used to it
- Put treats, toys, blankets and a favourite person’s clothes in the carrier for a comfortable and familiar environment
- Reinforce your cat’s positive associations with the carrier using calm praise
- Never dump your cat out of the carrier – either let her walk out or gently remove her from the carrier
- Practice regular care such as brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing at home
- Gently touch your cat’s face, ears, feet and tail at home so she will be used to similar procedures at the clinic.
3. Car Trips
- Always put your cat in a carrier when traveling in the car – it’s safer for you and your cat
- A synthetic feline pheromone in the carrier may help your cat stay calm during transit
- Drape a blanket or towel over the carrier to reduce motion sickness
- Take your cat for a few short car trips to build familiarity
- Do not feed your cat for several hours before traveling to reduce motion sickness
- After each successful car trip, reward your pet with positive attention and treats.
4. At the clinic
- Go to the veterinarian for visits that don’t involve examinations or procedures (such as weighing the cat) to create positive associations
- Ahead of time, ask the clinic staff if you can take your cat directly to a consultation room upon arrival
- Speak softly, because if you remain calm, chances are your cat will too
- Learn more about cat handling from your vet
- Know what to expect during a cat health vet examination
5. Calming strategies
- Reward good behaviour with treats and ignore bad behaviour – never speak harshly or use punishment
- Ask a staff member if you can open the carrier so your cat can adjust to the consultation room and explore
- Avoid direct eye contact with your cat
- Handle your cat with a towel if necessary
- Speak in soft, soothing tones but avoid whispering.