Even though bringing your kitty to the vet is necessary, it can be tricky at times. Cats are very territorial creatures that want to have their own space. When you move them into an unfamiliar area, it can cause stress or negative reactions. They may experience motion sickness in the car and can get sick as a result, which might leave them feeling even more uncomfortable. Even the sight of the cat carrier may bring up old memories of the vet and send them into a panic. Follow these 7 steps to reduce stress levels and prepare them for their next vet visit.
1. Perform At-Home Checkups
Complete a head-to-toe checkup on your cat every year to get a better idea of how their body looks and feels. Even if you have no clue what to look for, simply getting them used to being handled will help keep them calm while the vet does an exam. This will also build trust and allow you to have more physical control in the future. If your kitty suffers from severe stress reactions, check out our blog on how to deal with anxiety.
2. Make Their Carrier A Comfort Zone
Introduce your cat to its carrier early on and make it something that they see often, rather than only when traveling. Leave it out for them to explore on their own time, and add cozy bedding to create a retreat that they can enjoy. Make sure they have ample space inside to prevent them from feeling trapped. If your cat still feels uneasy in the carrier, consider spraying a feline pheromone product into the carrier about 30 minutes before leaving the house.
3. Give Your Cat Lots Of Love
Shower your kitty with affection right before it’s time to leave. You can reduce their stress levels by petting and playing with them until they are purring—an adorable sign of relaxation. This is a great ritual to practice during the hour before you leave the house. Once you are in the examination room at the vet’s office, let them walk around on their own while you give them love. This will make them more comfortable and easier to handle.
4. Spend More Time In The Car
Begin by sitting in the car (to get them used to the environment) while you show them affection. Let them out of the carrier to explore the vehicle and its smells before you turn the car on. Practice going on short car rides around the block with your cat to dissociate it from the vet experience. Be mindful of your speed and avoid quick turns and hard brakes, which could send your cat into a state of panic.
5. Treats For Positive Reinforcement
Similar to training a dog, treats can be a very effective tool in getting a cat to listen and learn. Use treats to help them feel rewarded, and associate each part of the vet experience with positive reinforcement. Place treats in their carrier before the car ride, and bring them along so that when you arrive, you can immediately reward them for their journey. Save a few for the ride home to help them remain calm. Try our Freeze-Dried Turkey Liver Munchies for cats and dogs!
6. Leave Your Cat In The Carrier
The waiting room can be terrifying for your kitty, with loud noises, new smells, and unfamiliar dogs and cats surrounding them. Felines are solitary and predatory animals, which can make being in a cage at the vet very stressful. Avoid taking them out of the carrier in the waiting area to prevent them from scratching you or other animals out of fear. Once you are inside the examination room, you can allow them to explore the area.
7. Clear Communication With Your Vet
Maintaining a good relationship with your vet can put your cat at ease. Speak in a soothing voice during the visit to show your feline friend that there’s nothing to fear. If your vet tries to go straight into an examination, request that they break the ice with your cat first. This is your opportunity to ask questions and get the information you need to take care of your kitty at home.
In addition to preparing your cat for the vet, these tips will make it easier to travel with them and safely explore the outside world together. Learn more about how to adventure with your cat here.