Anyone who is owned by a cat knows that cats are very opinionated about going to the vet’s office. Unfortunately, cats can be really good about hiding signs of illness so routine veterinary visits are an important part of making sure your kitty stays healthy.
The good news is that the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has developed some guidelines which pet owners can use to reduce the stress associated with going to the vet. Some of these tips include:
Make the carrier a “safe place”
- You may have already noticed that your cat begins to feel anxious the minute the carrier comes out of the closet. This is why behaviorists actually recommend leaving it out in a common room where the cat sees it all the time and is used to it. Placing cat nip, toys, and some bedding with your scent on it in the carrier will also make it a more welcoming place.
- Remember that getting accustomed to the carrier in this way takes days to weeks.
Choose the right carrier
- A hard-sided carrier that opens from the front and the top is best. Removing the cat from the top of the carrier once at the vets office is much easier (and less stressful) than pulling him or her out of the front or unceremoniously dumping them on the exam table.
- These carriers are also easier to secure with a seatbelt in the car for the ride to and from the office.
Consider using feline facial hormone sprays
- Commercially available feline hormone sprays can be helpful in decreasing anxiety in cats. These products can be sprayed on the carrier at least 30 minutes prior to placing the cat in the carrier for transport.
Cover the carrier
- At the vet’s office, consider keeping the carrier covered with a light towel or sheet so that it is a little darker and quieter for your cat. Less stimuli may help decrease nervousness.
- If you can, keep the carrier off the ground where it is more likely to be jostled or sniffed by a curious dog.
- Coming home from the office can sometimes be stressful as well if there are other cats in the house. The other cats may they may think that the returning cat “smells funny” which can create tension among the cats. Depending on how the cats are reacting, it may be a good idea to let the returning cat be alone in a separate room for a few hours.
A trip to the veterinarian’s office can be stressful but, with a little planning and patience, you can make the experience a much more pleasant one for both you and your feline friend. For a list of Best Friends veterinarians click here.