Keeping Your Cat's Vet Visits Calm

Posted on: 26 May 2015

Since you can't always tell when a cat is sick or in pain, regular veterinary checkups help keep your pet healthy. But even if your veterinarian has lots of experience handling cats, getting your cat to a vet may not be easy. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make the trip less traumatic for both you and your pet.

Use a Pet Carrier

Cats don't usually enjoy riding in moving vehicles, but a carrier offers a safe way to get your pet to the vet. But what do you do if your cat fights going into the thing? After all, it's unfamiliar territory and cats like familiarity.

  1. Choose a carrier that has enough room for your cat to sit, stand, and lie down. The size of the carrier should allow space for your pet to turn around, too.

  2. Place the carrier in one of your cat's favorite places in the house. Make it comfortable with a blanket for bedding and some of your pet's toys. Do this a few days before the veterinary appointment to give your cat time to get used to the carrier at home.

  3. Reward your cat for calm behavior in the carrier. A reward can be praise, additional playtime, extra affection, or a food treat. However, contrary to popular belief, rewarding your cat with a bowl of milk isn't healthy. Adult cats often are lactose intolerant and drinking milk can make them sick.

  4. Once your cat is no longer afraid to be inside the carrier, move the carrier to another room in the house with your pet riding inside. This gets your cat used to moving while in the carrier. Eventually, take a short ride -- even if you just drive around the block -- to get your pet familiar with traveling in a vehicle. Make several short trips before the day of the vet appointment. Playing quiet music during these trips can have a soothing effect.

  5. If these dry runs don't go well, spray synthetic feline pheromone in the carrier 30 minutes before leaving for the vet. If your pet still sees the carrier as a threatening space, the familiar scent can be calming.

  6. Consider walking your cat to the vet if the office is located near where you live. Often, you can teach a cat to walk on a lease. This relieves the stress of being put in a carrier, and your cat may even enjoy the walk. Walking with your pet can help relieve your own stress, and the exercise is good for your heart.

Relieve the Stress

Cats that are afraid get stressed. And like people, stress can make them sick. Many vets appreciate that cats prefer a calm environment and provide a separate waiting room that's quiet. But if you and your cat have to share the same waiting room with other species of pets, a carrier keeps your cat away from dogs that may be stressed and disorderly themselves.

Cats also sense human anxiety. Your stress over the vet visit can make your cat more fidgety. But many breeds of cats crave affection, and petting your cat as you wait can have a calming effect on both of you. Petting your cat not only improves your mood and reduces stress by releasing more of the nerve transmitters serotonin and dopamine, but it can also lower your blood pressure.

Talk to experts like Apple Valley Animal Hospital for more information.