How to Make Your Cat’s Trip to the Vet Less Stressful

cat-in-carrier

Most cats hate going to the vet’s.  What’s to like?  They’ll get stuck in a carrier, then they’ll get poked and prodded and stuck with needles.  Taking a cat to the vet can also be stressful for the cat’s human – none of us want our kitties to be scared and stressed, and what’s even worse is that, in the case of a vet visit, in the cat’s mind, we’re the ones who are putting them through this ordeal!  The ideal solution for many cats is a vet who makes housecalls (to find one in your area, visit the website of the American Association of Housecall and Mobile Veterinarians).  If that’s not an option, make sure that the vet you take your cat to is cat friendly.

You can make the actual trip to the vet’s office less stressful by following these tips:

Make sure the carrier is big enough for your cat to be able to stand up and turn around.  Carriers that allow access from the front and the top make getting your cat in and out of the carrier easier than carriers that only open in the front.

Get cats used to the carrier.  Keep the carrier out and open in a place where your cats can easily access it.   Some cats will actually like to use the carrier as a periodic sleeping place.

Get your cat used to car travel.  If feasible, take your cat on short rides in the car and offer rewards after the trip.  This may help create a positive association with travel, and that way, your cat won’t expect a vet visit at the end of each trip.

Use a calming/pheromone spray such as Comfort Zone with Feliway in the carrier on a regular basis, and also prior to placing kitty in it for transport.

Withhold food prior to transport.  This may help prevent motion sickness, and may also make cats more receptive to treats at the vet’s office, thus creating a somewhat more positive association.

Put a piece of clothing with your scent on it in the carrier prior to transport.  The familiar scent may help comfort your cat.

Cover the carrier with a blanket or towel while in the car – this may make some cats feel safer during transport.

Unfortunately, unless you have a very mellow cat, kitty may still hold a grudge for a little while after returning from one of these, in your cat’s mind completely unnecessary, outings.  Thankfully, our cats do forgive us quickly and all is forgotten – until the next vet visit!

11 Comments on How to Make Your Cat’s Trip to the Vet Less Stressful

  1. Katarina
    February 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi guys Katarina here again lol! I’m becoming quickly obssessed with this site aha, I am very fortunate to have a cat who is actually okay with car rides she enjoys looking outside the window while she just sits openly in the passenger seat of my car.

    Reply
  2. Jeff
    March 17, 2010 at 9:21 am (11 years ago)

    Yeah, Ingrid I think it’s because of all the noise outside and new surroundings to her, since we live in Manhattan. She is an indoor cat, so she is not used to the craziness outside.

    Reply
  3. Ingrid
    March 16, 2010 at 8:56 pm (11 years ago)

    That’s really interesting, Jeff – it sounds like your cat doesn’t mind the carrier or the vet, but she hates the car ride.

    Reply
  4. Jeff
    March 16, 2010 at 11:16 am (11 years ago)

    Our cat jumps right into the carrier, but she cries all the way to the vet. Once we get there, she is fine.
    Jeff – http://www.cat-toure.com

    Reply
  5. Ingrid
    March 16, 2010 at 7:33 am (11 years ago)

    Unfortunately, even though Amber loves sleeping in her open carrier (I always keep it in the basement as well), she still knows. Instead of bringing the carrier upstairs for the dreaded trip, I carry her downstairs to the carrier. She still catches on, but it makes it a little easier to get her inside since it gives her less time to plan an escape.

    Reply
  6. animalartist
    March 16, 2010 at 12:21 am (11 years ago)

    I always let them play with carriers in the basement, but they still catch on after one go-round when I bring the carrier upstairs! I also put a piece of stiff carpet remnant in the bottom of each one so they have something to dig their claws into that won’t move around too much. You can still take it out for the inevitable accident, or intentional statement.

    Reply
  7. Ingrid
    March 15, 2010 at 5:14 pm (11 years ago)

    Marg, that’s pretty cool that you end up being the hero after taking your cats to the vet!

    Elizabeth, I hope the tips help – both Shadow and Smoke, and you!

    Mason, let me know how the piece of clothing works for you.

    Reply
  8. Mason Canyon
    March 15, 2010 at 9:04 am (11 years ago)

    Very helpful tips. My cats hate their carriers. I like the idea of putting a piece of clothing in with them. I’ll have to give these a try next trip to the vet.

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth Spann Craig
    March 15, 2010 at 8:29 am (11 years ago)

    Thanks for the tips, Ingrid! My cats, Shadow and Smoke, HATE going to the vet…they get so scared and it’s so sad for me! I’ll give these tips a try. 🙂

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

    Reply
  10. Marg
    March 15, 2010 at 8:05 am (11 years ago)

    My cats are very funny. I really think they think I rescued them when they get home. They hang around me for the rest of the day and are just very friendly. I have the kind of carrier that just opens from the front but to make things easier, I stand the carrier up on its back side, and lower them into the carrier. But some of them will go in the front.
    Thanks for the great hints. They sound like great ideas.

    Reply

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  1. […] Simply getting a cat into a carrier can be a challenge. And while there are things you can do to make your cat’s trip to the vet less stressful, having a vet come to your home can be a much better option for many […]

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