Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

How To Take Your Cat To The Vet

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So you and your cat are due to go to the vets for her routine wellness examination or vaccination booster, but it is 6 hours to countdown and no cat in sight? You look everywhere. Every nook and cranny that your cat chooses to hide in when company comes, but no luck! Ever wonder if our cats know about that upcoming visit—or is it just by chance that every year the same thing happens and she disappears just in time for her scheduled visit to the vet?

You are not alone.

There is no clear explanation for this fairly common scenario. Cats pick up on people’s emotions, so if you are worried about the visit, chances are she senses your changing mood, and that is what triggers the hiding—but we will never know for sure because cats are not big conversationalists.

Here are a few tips to make going to the vets as low stress (as possible):

  • Buy a large comfy carrier for transport back and forth. Each year more than a few cats escape somewhere between car, and either home or hospital. This is not just stressful, but sometimes leads to a lost or an injured cat as they try to cross the adjacent busy thoroughfare.
  • Get your cat used to her carrier by leaving it out at home in a quiet spot where she can sniff and explore it. Some cats come to see their carrier as a safe haven if it is comfortably lined with her favorite soft bedding, and contains a favored toy or some catnip. Making the cat carrier association pleasant goes a long way to helping her see the carrier as a haven not a prison.
  • Reward her for entering the carrier by giving her verbal praise, petting, or a small kitty treat.
  • Get your cat used to car rides by taking her along during moderate weather when you do short trips to the store or post office. This gets her used to the routine of travel. For a nervous ninny, you may even elect to start by just taking her into the car in her carrier, and then leaving the car off. After a few minutes, take her back to the house and praise her for her calm behavior. Once she is taking short trips in stride, extend the trips and perhaps even just drop over to the vet clinic, and just take her in, then leave and head directly home again. All of this will help make new and worrisome events into old and somewhat boring ones.
  • Arrive at the hospital a bit early so that your cat has a chance to “take in the scene” and get used to new smells. If you have been there before, and know the way, this also helps to keep the visit calm and relaxed since you will not be speeding down the highway, map flapping around in one hand and clock ticking.
  • Consider a cats-only hospital, or a companion hospital with separate cat and dog sections to help minimize close encounters of the dog kind, and talk to her in soothing tones (normal voice) during the wait so she knows you are still there with her.
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