Many of us cat owners are all too familiar with the struggles of taking kitty to the veterinarian hospital. It can be a stressful time for both pet and care-giver. There are a few owners whom I’m sure believes that since their cats never go outside, they don’t need to go to the vets. Routine vet visits are a vital part for your cat to live a long, healthy life.

A cat’s natural behavior makes them excellent at hiding how they truly feel. They can be developing a health condition long before you ever notice something is wrong. Cats age approximately 4 times faster than us. A lot can happen in four “cat years” which is why yearly visits are so important. Regular exams can help avoid medical emergencies since our veterinarians are trained to detect conditions or diseases. In addition, over 50% of cats over the age of 2 years have varying stages of periodontal disease. Many of which show no obvious sign of it.

There are steps that can be taken to decrease the amount of stress for both you and your cat.

Let’s take a minute to discuss carriers. It is recommended to keep cats in a sturdy, impact-resistant plastic carrier from the time they leave the house until they are in the exam room to ensure their safety. Make sure to use an appropriate size carrier for your cat. They must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably within the carrier. One of the best types of carriers to have is one that has a top and front opening. These top-loading carriers allow for minimal stress during the cat’s placement in and removal from the carrier. It is also a good idea to have your contact information on the carrier as well in case there is an accident. One more note to consider, whenever possible avoid placing more than one cat in a single carrier. Providing each cat their own carrier helps prevent redirected aggression if they would become fearful.

Allow your cat to adjust to the carrier prior to going to the vet. If there is a place in your home where you are able to leave the carrier open to let them explore it at their own pace – that’s great! Having the carrier permanently out (like a dog crate) will eliminate the stress that would come from a “new thing in their environment”. If you cannot keep the carrier out all the time, at least a week prior to the actual vet visit, place the carrier in an area the cat usually is and prop the door open. Placing a soft blanket, favorite toy and catnip inside the carrier will help kitty become comfortable inside the carrier.

Prior to putting kitty in the car and leaving for the vet hospital, bring the interior of the car to a comfortable air temperature – preferably one that is similar to that in the home. Never place the cat on the bed of a pickup truck or similar exterior surface.

There are several things to do to minimize fear and stress during the transportation of kitty to the vets. Avoid feeding prior to travel. Minimize noises – turn the car stereo down or off, avoid honking and slamming doors, close the car windows and don’t place the carrier directly in front of an air vent. Avoid sudden starts and stops and fast or sharp turns. You can minimize motion sickness by keeping the carrier on the floorboard or covering one to two sides to block out scenery.

Once you’re at the vet office, try to keep kitty elevated, off the ground and away from other animals. Avoid ‘dumping’ your cat out of the carrier.

There is a pheromone spray that has been proven to reduce the signs of stress called Feliway. Using Feliway in the home, car and vet clinic can help maintain a lower level of stress. We also provide Feliway towels in the lobby and exam rooms, if you need to use one.

By having a less stressed out cat, our vets will be able to perform a more thorough physical exam and increase a long, happy life together for you and your cat.


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