Cat Stress: Tips for Vet Visits

by DFS-Pet-Blog on August 18, 2010

Is Your Cat Stressed by Visits to the Veterinarian?

Cats are easily stressed when taken to the veterinarian. The car ride alone may be enough to put your cat over the edge! What can you do to help make these visits less stressful?


Tips for Reducing Cat Stress:

  1. Always use a cat carrier to transport your cat. This is so much safer than having a cat roaming free through a vehicle. It is also safer than trying to carry your cat in your arms, even with a leash. Cats can jump out of your arms, possibly hurting you, and running away.
  2. Cat Carrier

  3. Choose a carrier with a removable top. Hard plastic carriers are ideal. The removable top makes it much easier to remove the top of the carrier, place the cat inside, and then refasten the top of the carrier than trying to force the cat through the small door. At the clinic, your veterinarian can remove the top of the carrier, and in many cases, the cat can stay right in the carrier during the exam, vaccinations, etc.
  4. Make the carrier an enjoyable place. Days before actually venturing out, bring out the cat carrier, leave it open and line it with a really cozy material. Start placing taste-tempting treats into the carrier. You can feed meals in the carrier as well. Your cat will soon start equating the carrier with good things. You may also wish to spray the carrier with a product such as Feliway, which may reduce anxiety.
  5. Help your cat get used to car rides. Once your cat is used to the carrier, place the carrier (with the cat inside) in the car, give an incredible cat treat, and then return the cat to the house and release her. Repeat this several days until your cat happily goes out to the car. Next, for a few days, start the car, give a delicious treat, and turn off the car. If your cat accepts that readily, take short trips up and down the driveway or around the block, while giving really great treats. Finally, for a few days, take some round trips to the veterinarian’s parking lot and return home.
  6. Make the clinic a great place to visit. Now take some trips to the veterinarian and just go to the waiting room, have the veterinary staff give some wonderful treats, and head home. Then graduate to taking the cat into the exam room, give treats, and head out. (Telling the veterinary staff about your plans beforehand would be a nice courtesy. They will be more than happy to help make your cat more at home during the visits.)

This may sound like a lot of work, but isn’t it worth it to have your cat peacefully go to the veterinarian’s office and be comfortable during the visit? Your cat will be happier, you will be happier, and the veterinary staff will be happier. A win-win-win situation.

Other Cat Health Posts:

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosemary August 18, 2010 at 9:28 am

Acually, three of my five cats are always fed in carriers, so they are used to being in them. The carriers are always out, so it isn’t unusual to see a cat curled up in one taking a nap. They are not as enthusiatic about being carried out to the car and taken somewhere, but seem acccepting for the most part. One tip for getting a cat in a carrier when you have to go now, and don’t have time to wait for them to get used to the idea, is to put the carrier against a wall or other solid support, and put the cat in tail first. For whatever reason, being backed into a carrier is easier for them (and you) than being shoved in head first.

One thing I do when taking a cat somewhere is to put a puppy pad in the carrier. If they do have an accident, it is easier to clean up, and I don’t have a wet, smelly towel to wash. This is especially important on a long trip, like a hurricane evacuation, when we drive to Colorado from Texas. The poor things are in their carriers for two very long days, as well as overnight in a motel room. I will set up a litter box at the motel and let them out one at a time to use it, but they have to stay in their carriers otherwise, so accidents are bound to happen.

brittany August 18, 2010 at 10:00 am

My cat views his carrier as a potty place actually- VERY fortunate for me, actually, since he would NOT urinate at the vet’s office when he had a partial blockage, and instead of leaving him overnight (why would I do that? There’s no one there!!!) I took him home after work and as SOON as I put him in the carrier in the car he peed about a quart I swear! Ran back inside, took him out, and got his sample! poor, poor kitty. He was so miserable…

PJBoosinger August 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Every cat I’ve ever had hated cat carriers and I’ve tried it all. Best I’ve come up with is make sure there’s some kitty litter in there for accidents, tip it up on end, bundle/cuddle cat and slip them in rear first, close door before tipping back to carry position. And I prefer a medium dog size kennel so they don’t feel to closed in.

Emily March 15, 2012 at 9:47 am


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