Many cat owners can relate to the difficult process of getting their cat into the carrier when it comes time for their cat's annual exam. Some owners have even admitted that they avoid vet care visits because of how difficult the process is not only on them, but their cat as well. As pet owners we hate to see our pets stressed - so the question becomes, " How do we help them?"
Long before your vet appointment, start getting your cat comfortable with being examined by doing routine exams with your cat at home. To do this, simply pick a table or elevated space where your can look over your cats core body areas using your hands to help support them during the process. Make this a positive experience by offering some special treats during and afterwards.
Consider if your carrier is the best fit for your cat's size. Carriers that are too big can cause your cat to slide around during travel, while carriers that are too small can make your cat feel "trapped". As a rule of thumb, your cat should be able to turn around in their carrier but should feel secure by its structure. NEVER put two cats in the same carrier for vet visits as they can become reactive to one another while inside the carrier.
Take time to work with your cat on carrier training and leave it out so that it can become a safe place for them. Placing a blanket or mat in the bottom of your carrier can help your cat to feel more comfortable.
Pheremone sprays such as Feliway, can be sprayed in your cat's carrier 15-20 minutes BEFORE THEY GET INSIDE to help reduce anxiety and ease stress during your cats vet visit. To learn more about Feliway products, click HERE.
On the day of your vet appointment, be sure not to feed your cat too close to your departure time to avoid upset stomach. If the reason for your vet visit is something abnormal on your cat, or an odd behavior, try to get a photo or video at home to show your veterinarian incase they are not able to see it during their visit. Aim to leave early for your appointment, as being late can result in a longer wait time and puts additional stress on your veterinary care team.
Once your cat is in the carrier, use a carrier cover, towel or small blanket to cover the carrier. Offering more privacy can help your cat to feel safe during travel and while at the vet office. Be sure to secure your cat's carrier in your vehicle so that it wont slide around during your ride to the vet's office. Once you have arrived at your vet office, try to sit away from other pets and when possible keep your cat on the chair next to you instead of floor level.
In the exam room, be sure to address any concerns with the veterinary team before the exam starts. To support the vet team during the exam, remain calm and quiet as sudden sounds and motions can cause your cat to become startled. Once your cat is back in the carrier, cover it immediately to help your cat settle down and feel safe upon leaving the vet clinic.
Once home, be sure to give your cat time to decompress from the visit. Most often you will see your cat doing extensive grooming as a means of cleaning off the scents from the vet. Remember to clean your carrier thoroughly with hot soapy water, and place a new blanket inside for them.
If your cat's stress level is of concern, it may be beneficial to discuss the use of anti - anxiety medications for vet visits with your veterinarian. If medication is not an option for your cat, you can ask if your vet offers in home visits or if they can refer to another vet that does. Your cat's routine preventative care is a significant part of keeping them healthy and happy, so trust us when we say "don't skip the vet visit". With patience and the right plan in place - you and your cat can look forward to better vet visits!