Trips to the vet can be stressful not only for cats but also for their human companions. Cats are known for being very good at masking illness. It’s important to have regular vet visits to keep track on their health and get immediate veterinary care should any illness arise.
There are a handful of tips that are readily achievable to prepare your cat for a low-stress vet visit, and it all starts with things that can be done at home.
- Get your cat comfortable with the carrier. No one wants to start a trip to the vet clinic with an excruciating feline wrestling match, potentially including a chase and a few scratches. Try taking the carrier out days before the veterinary appointment instead of only hours or right before the trip. Place your cat’s favorite bedding or toys, or a towel or cloth that has your scent, into the carrier and then allow them enough time to explore the carrier. They might walk in, lie down and think, “It’s not that bad!” The carrier can become part of the furniture in your house, and this helps disassociate it from vet visits.
- Rehearse the physical exam at home. If your cat is lying on your lap, it’s a great time to get them accustomed to being handled. This will lead to a smooth physical exam in future vet visits. There are a couple things you can do, such as gently touching them from head to tail, pulling their ear up a little bit to mimic an ear exam, opening their mouth to mimic an oral exam. Follow with a treat, which also helps ease their resistance to oral medication.
- Another thing to keep in mind is staying calm while trying to calm your pet. Animals may sense your anxiety and become even more nervous.
There are many other ways to make a veterinary visit more manageable and become a positive experience for our cats. Cats are so special that we want to do the best we can to avoid turning anxiety into fear-associated illness or aggression.