Tips for a stress free trip.

A trip to the veterinarian can be more stressful for cats than for dogs. Here are some tips to help make your clinic visit more pleasant.

Buying a Carrier

  • Top-loading carriers make it easier to place your cat inside
  • Carriers with a top and side opening have additional versatility
  • If your carrier has a removable top, your cat may feel more secure remaining inside throughout the examination.

Practice at Home

  • Leave the carrier out for several days before the appointment so your cat gets used to it
  • Put treats, toys, blankets and a favourite person’s clothes in the carrier for a comfortable and familiar environment
  • Reinforce your cat’s positive associations with the carrier using calm praise
  • Never dump your cat out of the carrier – either let her walk out or gently remove her from the carrier
  • Practice regular care such as brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing at home
  • Touch your cat’s face, ears, feet and tail at home so she will be used to similar procedures at the clinic.

Car Trips

  • Always put your cat in a carrier when traveling in the car – it’s safer for you and your cat
  • A synthetic feline pheromone in the carrier may help your cat stay calm during transit
  • Drape a blanket or towel over the carrier to reduce motion sickness
  • Take your cat for a few short car trips to build familiarity
  •  Do not feed your cat for several hours before traveling to reduce motion sickness
  • After each successful car trip, reward your pet with positive attention and treats.

At the Clinic

  • Go to the veterinarian for visits that don’t involve examinations or procedures (such as weighing the cat) to create positive associations
  • Ahead of time, ask the clinic staff if you can take your cat directly to a consultation room upon arrival
  • Speak softly, because if you remain calm, chances are your cat will too
  • Learn more about cat handling.

Recognising Feline Fear

It is easy to confuse fear with aggression or anger in cats. These illustrations show the progression of a cat’s facial expression and body posture from a neutral emotional state (left), through increasing levels of fear (middle and right).

Calming Strategies

  • Reward good behaviour with treats and ignore bad behaviour – never speak harshly or use punishment
  • Ask a staff member if you can open the carrier so your cat can adjust to the consultation room and explore
  • Avoid direct eye contact with your cat
  • Handle your cat with a towel if necessary
  • Speak in soft, soothing tones but avoid whispering.