Does your cat hate visiting the vet? Do you prefer to avoid going for vet visits, because the experience is traumatic for your feline friend? Here are some ways to make the experience more enjoyable, starting from leaving the house, to returning.
Getting the cat into the carrier: Many owners find this to be a daunting task. Try to avoid keeping the carrier hidden away in the basement, hauling it out only when the cat needs to go for a check-up. This can build a negative association. Aim to make the carrier a friendly, fun place for your cat to seek refuge. Try leaving the carrier in a location where the cat has its bed, and other comforts. Leave tasty food morsels around and in the carrier, and let your cat move in and out at its own will. Ensuring your cat is adjusted to the carrier, and can enjoy spending time in it will mean that getting your cat inside won’t be as much of a challenge.
If your cat already has a hateful relationship with the carrier, you can still try a few tricks to convince your cat that the carrier isn’t so bad: you may wish to try placing the carrier in a small room, which is void of other hiding places. The cat may volunteer to go into the carrier. Carriers with lids that are removable can also be less stressful for the cat, if they walk into the bottom, at which point you can replace the top. In the case of soft ‘top loading’ carriers, you can cradle the cat, and lower it into the carrier.
During the examination: we will do our best to keep your cat comfortable. Often, full exams can be performed with the cat still in the bottom of the carrier if the top is easily removed. We will also do our best to keep the visit calm with a quiet exam room, feliway spray, and treats. We want your visit to be as calm and productive as you do!
The trip home: Many owners will overlook this part of the trip, but it can also cause stress for your cat. Cats in multi-cat households can often be upset when one of them returns home with a clinic scent on them. When one cat smells differently they can have trouble recognizing each other, and this can result in aggressive behavior. Allow the cat to remain in the carrier, to see how other cat(s) in the home react. If there are any signs of hissing, or stress, place the cat in a separate room with bedding, litter, food and water and allow the cat to come out of the carrier on its own. Allow the cat to remain in this room for a minimum of 24 hours. Once in the room for a day or two, the cat will regain the normal scent of the home environment. An article of your clothing in the carrier can retain the smell of home while at the vet, so be sure that the visiting cat has something in the carrier with it. If at all possible, book all of your cat’s wellness appointments at the vet at the same time, so nobody comes home smelling ‘strange’.
Going to the veterinarian does not need to be stressful for your kitty. Take some time to get your cat used to the carrier, use a veterinarian who is understanding of cat behavior, plan ahead for the homecoming, then trips to the vet will be a piece of cake!