How to Make a Visit to the Vet Less Stressful for Your Cat: 10 Tips from Our Vet

Dr. Lauren here! When was the last time your cat went to the vet?

The idea of ​​a cat howling (“singing the song of its people”) is never pleasant. Believe me, I’ve been the person in the car with a pancake who screamed so loudly that the people in the car next to me looked at me as if to say, “Are you okay?” Should we call the police? And once Pancake starts screaming, Tiller picks up the chorus.

But are cats really hiding illness and/or injury? Yes, we veterans talk about this convention often, but only because it is true. Retinal damage indicative of high blood pressure, palpable thyroid nodules in the neck, early tooth decay…all these things are so easy to find in person, but impossible to find when our cats stay at home.

So back to the visit. It’s hard. But it’s a necessary evil. That said, cats don’t understand that. Imagine if you were asked to see your gynecologist, your dentist, your cardiologist, your internist, your general practitioner and your urologist… all in one day. You’d probably also have a guttural NO (or two) to say. Now imagine you were pushed into a box before leaving your house, pushed around and had no say in the matter. It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

Believe me when I say: there are things we can do to improve the situation for cats.

Much has been written and studied over the last ten or twenty years about reducing the stress of pets, especially cats, during vet visits: this can include very random or very helpful items (think to music composed specifically for cats!). But the goal of this essay is to give you practical and easy things that anyone can do to help reduce the stress of vet visits for your cat.

Some are so simple that you might be surprised you haven’t already implemented them.

First, identify your cat’s personality type

Before you do anything, you need to decide what your cat’s personality type is when faced with new situations: is he a nervous nellie? Or a Happy Harry?

Nervous Nellie

New things are scary! These cats hide or hiss, not because they are mean, but because they are afraid:
I don’t like change
I don’t like new people

Merry Harry (aka Cat-Dogs)

The more stimulation and new things to look at, the better! These cats interact with the environment.
New person? Come on, let me flirt with you!
Feed me and I’m your friend for life!

Obviously, these are generalizations, but they help develop an idea of ​​what your cat wants.

A nervous Nellie who wants to hide will probably like her cage covered with a blanket, objects in the cage that smell or look familiar, and objects to hide under. They probably don’t want bribes in the form of treats.

On the other hand, a happy Harry would probably love to take a nap. And they probably don’t want to be completely covered, they want everyone to see their magnificent feline splendor!

Adapt to your cat’s personality

comfortable tortoiseshell cat in a transport cage at the vet

One of my recent patients, Freddie, is a great example of this. I met Freedie and her mother when they wanted a second opinion on the best way to treat her damaged ear. Freddie came over this week for her annual wellness, and while Freddie is happy to have the attention, she likes having space to hide, feel safe, and decide how things go according to her wishes. terms. So her mother piled blankets and cushions into the carrier, giving her great hiding opportunities, and had a nice big carrier that came apart easily, making things easier for Miss Freddie.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a stress-free vet visit itself, but less stressful is a great goal.

10 Tips to Help Reduce a Cat’s Stress at the Vet

Tips for everyone:

1. Find a good carrier

Something that fits your cat easily, has at least two entrances/exits, and can be easily opened. Broken latches or a single entryway are difficult for most cats and exacerbate stress. Also make sure it is clean before putting your cat in it. Would you prefer to travel in a dirty or clean car?

2. At home, leave the baby carrier outside so it’s more of a familiar place than a strange object. Offer treats in the carrier.

Tabby cat eating from the inside out of a cat carrier box
Image credit: Oleg Batrak, Shutterstock

3. Speaking of treats, bring them.

A familiar scent can go a long way toward normalizing the experience.

4. If your cat doesn’t want to eat treats, try the magic of Lick-E-Lix or Churus…

Most cats who don’t touch treats will still devour this yogurt-consistency tube of cat delight. I have seen people draw blood from cats without assistance, simply because they distracted the cat with a Lick-E-Lix Or Churu.

5. Be calm yourself.

Cats pick up on our stress! Studies suggest that cats can recognize facial expressions of at least some emotions in humans.

6. Soothing cat music.

Believe it or not, cats might enjoy music. Youtube has channels specifically dedicated to this, so consider it as an option.

Next-Level Tips: Intensify Calmness

As I mentioned earlier, other options have come into play more recently. They may not be an option for every cat owner, but if they are available to you and you can use them, I highly recommend it.

7. Pheromone Sprays

Test them before a vet visit, but a number of pheromone diffusers and sprays are now available to help reduce stress in cats.

8. Visit good clinics.

veterinary nurse checking the cat
Image credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

Some clinics have gone the extra mile to make cats more than just an idea. There are various options, such as Cat-friendly practices by the American Association of Feline Practitioners or Cat Friendly Clinics abroad, but regardless, these clinics have gone the extra mile to prove that they want to make a cat’s visit comfortable.

9. Take it a step further: Cat-only clinics and cat specialists actually exist.

Many cat specialists see both routine wellness and referral cases, and cat-only clinics remove all the noise, smells, and confusion that dogs can create for cats; having worked in feline clinics for the second half of my career, I cannot recommend enough the benefits of a clinic reserved for cats. Ask to visit your premises, if you can. The difference will allow you (and your cat) to bake biscuits.

10. Talk to your cat’s vet about sedation options!

There are new options that we have started using in cats over the last 5 years that make a huge difference for very anxious or stressed patients!

cat face splitter 2

So, the next time you set foot in the clinic, prepare yourself for these options and see that bringing your cat to the clinic can not only be less stressful, but also potentially a positive experience. Both for their health and for your peace of mind. Also note that many of these can be applied to other stressful situations cats might encounter: fireworksvisiting guests and new pets.

Featured image credit: 4 p.m. production, Shutterstock


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