It’s no secret that most cats do not enjoy being taken from their comfortable environment, placed in a carrier, and hauled off to the veterinarian, where strangers poke and prod them, dogs want to sniff them (or chase them or eat them or play with them), and the smells of unknown cats fill the air. The nerve! The good news is there are things you can do to keep your favorite feline from being filled with fear.
First and foremost, talk to your veterinarian and ask for some tips. That's why we're here! From the beginning instructions we provide on transporting your cat to our clinics to the individualized approach we take for each cat, we will do our best to ensure they don’t mind returning at their next visit.
Since we can’t communicate to our cats that they’re simply visiting the doctor and that they’ll be back home soon, it’s probably a terrifying experience for them (and it’s often an equally unpleasant experience for cat owners, too). We're using this blog post to hopefully turn things around for you and your precious pet.
Why Regular Vet Care is So Essential For Cats
Because visiting the vet can be so difficult for cats, cat owners often avoid taking their cats in for regular preventive care exams. In fact, many cats only see a veterinarian when their owners can tell they are sick. And since cats hide illness so well, once they show outward signs of disease, it’s often too late for effective treatment, and their owners end up spending more money trying to combat the problem.
Tips For Making Veterinary Visits Easier For You and Your Cat
You are your cat's person, so you know their likes and dislikes, and that's the first step towards making vet visits easier. And although every cat is different, there are some common things that our time in veterinary care has shown us to make kitty visits easier on everyone.
Three things that will help you with your cat's visit to the veterinarian are:
1. Start early. If you get your cat as a kitten, it’s a great idea to get your kitten accustomed to riding in the car and being in the cat carrier. Bring your kitten to your vet's office on days when you don’t have an appointment so that they can get some love and affection from the staff. They’ll begin to associate coming here with positive feelings. With our new COVID-19 protocols in place you will want to call first to set up what we call a "happy visit" appointment. The same is true if you adopt your cat as an adult. It's never too late for them to learn.
2. Make the carrier comfortable. You can make your cat's carrier a permanent part of your house as an extra cat bed that they will see and sleep in everyday, making the carrier less scary. If that's not doable then get the carrier out a few days before your cat’s veterinary visit. Make sure to dust off the cobwebs! Place their favorite bed inside. Leave the door open and put treats and toys inside. This will help your cat enjoy getting into the carrier rather than be afraid of it. If the top is removable then start by doing this the first day and on the second day put the top back on and take the door off. Then continue to have only positive associations with the carrier. The last thing you want to have happen is for your cat to associate the carrier solely with going to be poked and prodded.
3. Keep the kitty calm. Some cats do better at the veterinary hospital when an owner places a blanket or a towel over the carrier, so she can’t see the other animals in the waiting room. Another way to calm your cat is to use a natural feline pheromone product, like Feliway. You can use Feliway’s diffuser (plug it in at home), or it comes as a collar and a spray. We use the diffusers, wipes and spray in our clinic! The Feliway diffuser is in the cat only room! We also like to keep some spray and diffusers in stock for you to take home that day and use at home or in preparation for your kitty's next visit. You can also find these items on our online pharmacy.
As veterinarians, the last thing we want to see is a stressed-out kitty and owner. Let us help! If you have any other questions about making vet visits easier and how to get your cat on the path to wellness, give us a call!