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!