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How to ensure your cats visit to the V.E.T is as stress free as possible
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How to ensure your cats visit to the V.E.T is as stress free as possible

By Francesca Lees BSc (Hons) NCert (AnBeh) ISFM CertFN ABTC-ATI RVN 

It’s that time again, the dreaded visit to the V.E.T for your cat (don’t say it out loud, they know!) Last year there was all kinds of drama and this year you don’t want a repeat of that.  

Veterinary check ups are vital for your cat and can help to detect early signs of illness or disease. In the UK last year only 63% of cats received their regular booster vaccination and health check (PDSA, 2023) and, out of those who had not, 14% of owners reported this was because it was too stressful to get their pet to the vets (PDSA, 2023).  

Bringing your cat to the vet can be stressful for both you and your cat. So how can you help your cat to have a more positive experience going to the vets and how can you make it less stressful for them? 

Prepare your cat for their vet visit by spraying their cat carrier with a pheromone spray

There are a few different types of calming spray on the market but a pheromone one can help them to feel more relaxed when inside their cat carrier. Also make sure to spray it inside the carrier before you place your cat inside the box and leave it for about 30 seconds before you do, to allow the alcohol to evaporate. When you get your cat in the carrier, they should be more relaxed. You can also include some of their own bedding in the carrier so it has their own scent on it and feels more comfortable. 

Cover the carrier with a blanket to make it less stressful for your cat

Both whilst you’re in the car and whilst in the vet waiting room. It’s particularly scary for cats to see out of their cat carrier, especially when in a moving car or in a waiting room full of people and other animals. With the carrier covered they feel safer and less exposed.  

Minimise noise while transporting your cat

Make sure to keep quiet in the car and keep the radio on a low volume. Loud noises can make an already worrying car journey even more scary for your feline friend. When you arrive at the vet clinic place your cats carrier up high. Cats feel very vulnerable when on the floor so placing their cat carrier up on a chair or table (or on a special cat carrier shelf which some vets have) will make your feel much safer.  

Keep the carrier away from dogs and other animals in the vet waiting room

Make sure to sit in a quiet area in the vet waiting room and keep your cat away from any dogs. Some vet practices have a cat only waiting area so make sure to sit in this section whilst waiting.

Let your at come out of their carrier in their own time during their visit to the vet

 When you are called into the consulting room make sure you allow your cat time to come out of their cat carrier on their own. Your cat may take a while to come out but never drag your cat out of their carrier. Open the door and let them choose to come out in their own time.

Invest in a top opening cat carrier to take your cat to the clinic

If you can, purchase a top opening cat carrier as these are much more cat friendly and allow for the cat to be examined by the vet or vet nurse whilst they’re still in their cat carrier. If your cat does not want to come out of their carrier they can still be examined but can do so from their safety of their cat carrier. 

Give your cat a treat at the vet appointment

Whilst the vet is examining your cat you can feed your cat tasty treat. A wet creamy treat works really well for this. Giving your cat a tasty treat whilst they’re at the vets can help to create a positive association with the vet clinic as they remember that it wasn’t all bad.  

Minimise the number of vet trips

Try to double up on things you need to be done at the vet so you can minimise the number of veterinary visits / trips to the vet. For example, if you are taking them for their vaccinations, sync up their flea and worming treatments to happen at the same time or their yearly check-ups.

Take your cat to a cat-savvy vet

Try to find a cat savvy veterinarian and consider registering with a Cat Friendly Clinic. Cat Friendly Clinics are certified by International Cat Care and have met very strict requirements. They ensure your cats welfare needs are met and make the whole experience much more positive for cats who visit their clinic. They have very specific requirements such as - having separate cat and dog waiting areas, having separate cat and dog hospital wards and ensuring that staff use gentle handling techniques and do not “scruff” cats (restraining them by holding the skin on the back of their neck). 

If you have one locally, try a cat only vet clinic. There are many cities now with feline only veterinary clinics. These are veterinary practices who solely treat cats. These are much less stressful for cats as there will be no noisy dogs barking in the waiting room or the scent of dogs in the practice, which can cause significant stress to cats. Many of these are registered as Gold Standard Cat Friendly Clinics. 

Try to remember these tips and you should see less stress signals from your cat when taking them to the veterinary clinic.  

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