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Tips for Stress Free Vet Visits for your Cat

Scared CatLet's face it, most cats are not ever going to love a visit to the vet, but exams and wellness care are clearly important to their health.  Regular exams allow veterinarians to catch problems early which, in turn, keeps the overall cost of care lower and your pet healthier for longer.  We know the visit is necessary, so why not make the best of it!?

First thing, if you are stressed about the visit, your cat will be too!  They are very in tune to emotions and change and will sense if there is something awry.  Be positive!  This is much easier to do if you have a plan.  

Aside from your stress, the first part of the vet visit equation for cats is the carrier.  That scary contraption only comes out once a year and never leads to anything good!  So, change that.  It may not be an attractive décor item, but if the cat has regular access to it, then it loses its reputation of being the scary foreign object that carries them away to impending doom!  Place soft, familiar bedding inside and a few tasty treats. Your cat may not take the bait immediately, but over time should become more accustomed to its presence and may even enjoy a cat nap inside!  You may also want to assess the type of carrier you have.  Make sure it is large enough for the cat to comfortably turn around in and consider a version that has the standard end opening in addition to the option of a top opening or easy to detach top.

Another way to make the carrier more tolerable is to use a pheromone product.  Feliway has created a synthetic version of the same pheromone that cats use for scent marking and comfort.  It comes in various forms, but the spray is scentless to people and lasts several hours - perfect for a vet visit situation.  Spraying the inside of the carrier and car may help add a level of calm to an otherwise stressed cat.  The spray must be applied about 30 minutes prior to intended use or the alcohol base of the spray may overpower the scent and turn cats off to it before they realize the benefit.  The spray can be used periodically in the carrier at home as well to make it more attractive.

The car ride portion is not likely something that will ever thrill cats.  It is generally unpredictable and unpleasant which cats just do not appreciate.  If you can and desire, it may really help to take the cat (in the carrier) on short car rides on a regular basis so they get more used to it.  If this is not an option for you, remember to use your Feliway, put a familiar scented towel over the carrier before you leave and think happy thoughts!  If you still feel the car ride causes undo stress, talk to your veterinarian about options for medications that might make the ride more pleasant.

When you arrive at the vet, continue to consider what might make your cat more comfortable.  Cats feel more secure in higher places and do not necessarily want to be nose to nose with a slobbering pooch, so place the carrier off of the ground if possible.  Keep the towel over the top and don't force them out for a weight if they are not willing. Sit in a quieter section of the waiting room or request to be seated in an exam room right away to avoid commotion and anxiety. Once in the exam room, open the carrier and allow them to explore.  Ideally, they should be given a few moments to take in the atmosphere before their exam begins.  Your veterinarian is your ally so use them and their knowledge to make the process more pleasant.  If you're having trouble getting your cat to the vet, let us know. Cats are members of the family and we all want to make sure they stay happy and healthy for years to come!