Bringing Your Cat to the Vet

Original Drawing by Dr. John Bialasik, DVM; 2019

Even the calmest cat can become very stressed and fearful with a trip to the vet. Many cat owners consider battling their cat into the carrier, enduring minimal scratches, then driving at ground-breaking speeds to the clinic to limit howling and meowing, anxiously sitting through an appointment, hoping to not have to return, and then finally returning home to have the cat hide for the next 48 hours under the bed a success.

At “a” Street Animal Clinic we would like to help relieve and reduce as much of that stress by addressing some particular triggers and how to avoid or limit them.

Cats are independent, sensitive, territorial creatures that enjoy routines and prefer to be in control of their surroundings. When it comes to traveling to the clinic all these characteristics are challenged. There is a change in routine, loss of control, new surroundings that involves sounds, smells, sights and sensations. On top of that the veterinarian will be handling the cat, manipulating them and causing slight discomfort or resistance.

When it comes to transporting your cat to the clinic, here are some helpful tips.

Never travel with the cat loose in the car or bringing the cat into the clinic without a carrier. While a cardboard carrier is a temporary solution, investment in a sturdy, easily operable carrier will allow the cat to feel safer and more secure. Be sure the carrier is clean.  Adding an article of clothing can provide familiarity.

To put the cat into the carrier you can wrap your cat in a blanket and gently lower them or place them into the carrier. It may be helpful for someone to hold the carrier still on a stable surface while this is done. Cover the carrier with a towel during transport. The towel can be spritzed with Feliway, a feline calming pheromone. This has shown some great responses. Secure the carrier in the car during travel to limit sliding and banging.

Appointment times can impact stress with your cat. The amount of traffic in the lobby of other cats, dogs, or families can create fear from unfamiliar sounds, smells and sights. Busy times are often first thing in the morning. If it is possible to avoid these times we recommend scheduling an appointment late morning before lunch and early afternoon.

We will do our best to accommodate you and your pet once you arrive to move both into a more quiet and controlled setting and examination room. Once in the examination room it is best to leave scared cats in their carrier until it is time for examination by the technician or veterinarian. Some carriers are designed to remove the top, allowing for examination within the carrier. This can be more calming and some aggressive cats have been more accommodating with this easy alternative.

With some fearful cats, it is necessary to administer a sedative prior to the veterinary appointment to allow for examination. This is something that our veterinarians are comfortable to discuss with you and formulate a plan.

Finally, an alternative that can be considered in special circumstances for reducing the stress of bringing your cat to the veterinary clinic is to have the veterinarian come to your home. We are happy to discuss this option and make comfortable arrangements.