Making Veterinary Visits Less Stressful For Cats, Part 2 The Veterinary Visit

Many cats hate going to the veterinary hospital. Some express their angst by urinating or defecating.  Others hyperventilate due to stress. Still others, turn into attack cats who draw blood from the veterinary staff. Here are my suggestions for making the veterinary visit less stressful for the cat and more pleasant for their human families.
    Prepare the carrier: Place a thick towel or bed that is used by the cat inside. The cat will smell their scent and feel more at home. Spray Feliway inside the carrier.  These feline pheromones are calming to the cat.
    Transporting the cat: Secure the carrier in the backseat of the vehicle. Do not place them in the front seat. If the airbags deploy, they might seriously injure or kill your cat.  I wedge the carrier between the front and back seat and then place the seatbelt through the handle.


Alternatively, the seatbelt may be wrapped around the front of the carrier.

    Checking in and the lobby: Place the carrier on the counter while checking in. Cats like high places. Placing them on the ground makes them feel anxious and vulnerable.  Look for a quiet corner in the lobby to wait. Place the carrier on a chair or table to keep them high. 
     The exam room: Place the carrier on the examination table, not the floor. Give them a few minutes to survey the room, then open the door. Bold cats will come out immediately to explore the room. Leave the carrier on the table so they know they can go back to it at any time. Most cats remain inside the carrier. For these cats I recommend unfastening the top of the carrier but leaving it in place. When the technician or veterinarian enters, they will remove the top but allow the cat to stay inside for the examination. Staying in the bottom of the carrier where their scent is present provides comfort to the cat.  After the visit is over, replace the top and remember to keep the cat up off the clinic floor when checking out.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.