How to Reduce Stress for Your Cat During a Vet Visit

All cats should have at least an annual check from a veterinarian and some will require more frequent visits over their lifetime.

For many cats, visiting the veterinarian can be a stressful experience and this can make it very stressful for pet owners too.

This is also one of the reasons that more than half of the world’s cats do not visit the vet frequently enough.  However, there are some ways to reduce the stress for cats for their important vet visits and help your stress levels at the same time.

Choose the right cat carrier

Your cat should never travel loose in your car. Choose a robust carrier that opens from the top and the front – an easily removable upper half of the carrier allows an anxious cat to be examined while remaining in the bottom half.

Make the carrier comfy

Place the carrier in a location at home where your cat can become familiar with it. You can also put in some clothing of yours or bedding of your cats so there is a familiar scent. Don’t forget to bring some spare bedding for the drive back home, in case your cat is unwell or soils the carrier during the journey.

Travelling with your cat

If your cat doesn’t enter the carrier on its own, you should calmly and gently lower them into the carrier through the top opening. If your cat is really unwilling to get in the carrier, you can wrap them in a thick towel (containing their scent or sprayed pheromone), then lower the towel and cat into the carrier. Once in the car, prevent the carrier from being shaken and securely fasten it in the footwell behind the front seat or with the seatbelt. This is the time to show your cat how calm you are and talk to it reassuringly with quiet and positive tones. Use two hands when lifting the carrier and try to avoid shaking it or bumping it against your legs. Make sure you follow the same protocol on the way home.

At the clinic

Ask the receptionist where is best for you to sit with your cat. Some veterinary clinics even have cat-friendly spaces to wait.  Always make sure you have the front end of the carrier facing towards you (not the other cats and dogs) and keep the carrier covered with a towel.

More than one cat at home?

If you have more than one cat, you may need to take some extra precautions when you get home. Leave your returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes and see how the other cats react. If they are calm, you can let them out. If not, it is probably because the returning cat smells a little like the veterinary practice. It is best if you put your cat in a separate room (with a litter box, fresh water and food) for a minimum of 24 hours to regain a more familiar smell.

It is very important for cats to regularly visit the veterinarian to keep them healthy. Hopefully, these small changes help you and your cat has a much less stressful experience.

The content of this article is for informative purposes only. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding your pet’s health.