Cats are notoriously stressed about coming in to the vet, so many people wait until their cat is sick before they face the scary experience.  But, cats need wellness exams as much as, if not more than, dogs, because they can hide their illnesses until they are critical.

Here are some tips for getting cats into the veterinary office with less stress for you and your pet.

  1. Bring a calm cat to the clinic –
    1. Feed your kitty in the carrier to encourage positive experiences that occur in the crate.  Allowing your cat to be fed treats and relax in the carrier with soft, clean bedding will help your cat to feel safe and familiar in the carrier before travelling to the veterinary office. 
    2. Cover carrier with blanket or towel to reduce unfamiliar sights and sounds
    3. Practice driving around the block or around the town and ending up right back at home.  Bringing a calm cat to the clinic is the best cat.
    4. Feliway wipes and sprays – Put a spritz of Feliway in the carrier and on the carrier cover when travelling.  This spray should be applied 15 minutes before contact.  This is a natural calming pheromone that communicates to your cat relaxing and calming signals.  We also spray in in the room prior to your arrival.
  2. Bring pets in hungry –
    1. If not medically contraindicated, limit food and treats prior to the appointment.
    2. Fasting them helps with motion sickness in the car and encourage treats during exam.  We like to offer pets treats almost continually during our visit.  If your cat has a favorite type of treat, bring them with you to allow the pet care team the opportunity to interact with your kitty in a positive experience.
  3. Tips for the lobby entrance –
    1. When checking in for your appointment, ask to be brought into the exam room right away.  Alternately, you may want to consider calling our front desk before entering the clinic to make sure an exam room is available.  If there isn’t, ask the client service rep to come and get you once a room opens up so you and your cat can wait in the car.
    2. Allow your cat to stay in carrier until examine begins.  Once introduced into the exam room, give cats time to acclimate in the exam room by leaving the carrier on the table and keeping the carrier closed.  Cat carrier with removable tops or tops that open are ideal, as exams can often be conducted without the cat having to leave the comfort of the carrier.
  4. A sense of calm in the exam room –
    1. Felines quickly pick up on our own moods.  Keeping calm will help our pets to understand this is a safe environment.  
    2. Pet massages before or during the exam help to foster a calm setting.  
    3. When possible, our exam rooms play soft soothing music composed specifically for our feline friends.

It is imperative that pet parents and veterinarians work together to reduce the stress of vet visits.  There is no question that vet visits are important.  These cats need to be approached with care and understanding for a happier and healthier feline.