Preparing your cat for a visit to the veterinarian begins days before the actual event.
Many cats, especially those who are indoor only, are frightened by the process of getting into the cat carrier, going for a drive and then visiting the unfamiliar place of a vet’s office. If your cat is afraid of other animals, the fear can be even worse as most exam rooms smell of other animals and antiseptic.
Get used to the cat carrier
One way to start getting your cat ready for a trip to the vet is to let her get accustomed to the cat carrier. If the carrier is only used during traumatic events, such as visits to the veterinarian, your cat may view it as a scary place.
Instead, put the carrier out somewhere your cat can easily access it. If you have a cat carrier with a removable lid and door, take them off. Place a treat or two and something familiar to your cat inside the bottom of the carrier. A t-shirt that smells like you or a favorite toy is a good option.
Most cats like the safety of confined spaces, so allowing her to become familiar with the bottom of the cat carrier over several days may ease the stress of going to the vet. Once the cat has begun sleeping in the cat carrier, put the lid back on so she may get accustomed to it as well.
Take a ride
Many cats stress over going to the vet because it involves going outside and riding in the car. To help ease these fears, take the cat outside in the cat carrier or on a leash several times in the weeks leading up to the vet visit. Consider putting her in the car and never leaving the driveway. Lavish attention on your cat and comfort her during her first visits to the car.
After she has become accustomed to the car, take her on several sort drives that do not end in a traumatic experience. Even just a drive around the block will help your cat get used to the noises and feelings associated with riding in a car. It’s a good idea to keep the windows closed, unless needed for ventilation, so that the wind entering the car does not hurt the cat’s ears. Remember her ears will be more sensitive to air motion than yours.
You may also want to keep the car stereo turned off as well, as the noise will likely seem much louder to your cat.
Talk to your vet
On the day of your cat’s vet visit, you can help avoid the stress of the visit by talking with the veterinarian office staff ahead of time. Ask for an exam room used primarily or only for cats. Discuss what procedures need to be done and get a vet technician to hold the cat.
Some vets may suggest that you hold the cat for nail trimmings or even during the shots. While this may seem comforting to your pet, it may leave the pet distrustful of you. In addition, professionals may be better trained to restrain the cat and prevent escaping, biting or clawing.
Arrange ahead of time to have the bill paid via credit card on file or have the check already written to avoid delays in leaving the office. Once your cat is done at the veterinarian’s office, getting her home will help ease her stress immensely.
Depending on the cat, a reward for good behavior may also take some trauma out of a visit to the vet. Offer you cat extra affection or a special treat to remind her that even if she doesn’t understand why you did it, a vet visit just means you love her.