Getting your cat to the vet can be very tricky for even the most cunning cat owners!
It might be that you have to treat an ongoing health problem your cat suffers from, an injury that they need immediate help for like a torn nail, or you are taking your cat for its yearly health check-up. If it is a torn nail, a quick tip I have to share is that this is pretty preventable by getting them a scratching post which allows them to groom their nails. Whatever the case may be, you have to get your cat to the vet, but a lot of the time your cat just does not cooperate.
Even though it might be annoying, you must persevere for your cat’s health.
Something related to cat’s health that a lot of owners must hear is that cat’s are typically dehydrated due to them mainly eating dry food. You should either feed them wet food, get them a drinking fountain, or do both! This can prevent visits to the vet for kidney and bladder issues, and it will improve the quality of your cat’s life.
Today, I am going to describe some tips and techniques that can assist you on the hardest thing ever: getting your cat to the vet.
Cats are just stubborn little things. They are hard to please. Our little guys are stuck in their ways. When their routine gets messed up, they do not like it.
And, they are SMART.
If your cat remembers that the only times s/he has been in the car — was when s/he was forced to go to the dreaded vet — do you think s/he will want to get in your car?
What I consistently preach to cat owners is to use repetition to train kitty. Your cat should be familiar with all the events that are required to get him or her to the vet.
Your Cat Should Know Its Way Around The Carrier
First off, your cat needs to be used to the carrier that you plan on carrying him or her in. This means get kitty in that thing as much as possible. Your cat should be so familiar and comfortable with its carrier, that kitty treats it like no big deal.
My first tip on the road to familiarity is to leave the carrier out around the house. This access will allow kitty to start noticing the carrier, and hopefully explore the inside of the carrier. This will begin to break down some barriers of unfamiliarity that your cat might otherwise have with the carrier.
Next step is to try to get your cat to go inside the carrier if your cat is not already comfortable with the inside. Never force your cat to do anything that he or she obviously does not want to do. Forcing will just make your cat develop bad associations with your carrier, and make everything else harder when it comes to getting your cat to the vet.
Bribe Your Kitty!
Influencing your cat to get inside the carrier can be as simple as putting kitty’s favorite toy or some catnip inside. If that does not work, you can use some synthetic cat pheromones to coax kitty inside. Another technique for making the carrier more appealing is making the carrier snuggly. Add a soft blanket to the bottom, and you may find kitty ruled up for a snooze.
Also, your cat might prefer for the carrier to be a dark little cave. Add a blanket or sheet to the top to keep light from going into the carrier to make the carrier your feline friend’s new favorite hiding place.
Choosing A Cat Carrier
When choosing a carrier, make sure you get one that is plenty big, so your cat does not feel claustrophobic. Make sure the carrier is hard-sided so that the kitty is not freaked out if you pick up the carrier and the bottom collapses to make the kitty feel insecure.
If you do have a soft-sided carrier, I would not carry your cat in it. Rather, I would use the same steps above to get kitty used to your carrier, load the carrier in the car, and then get kitty inside for the car ride.
Earlier, I wrote an article that described carriers that can be used for kitty’s car trips and confinement. From my research, one of the carriers I described is also good for all-around cat transport.
This link takes you to where I describe a carrier of which I am quite fond. This carrier is plenty big and sturdy; it is perfect to help your cat feel secure. If you own two cats, check out this double cat carrier. Speaking of cars, let’s move on to the next area that your cat needs to be familiar with to make your trips to the vet go smoothly.
Familiarity With Cars
Your cat should be used to riding in its carrier on car trips. Once your cat is in the carrier, and he or she is comfy, everything else involved in getting the kitty to the vet will be easier.
Take your cat on some car trips that don’t end in a vet visit. These trips are crucial because if the first time that your cat is riding in the car is on the way to the vet, the kitty will associate the carrier and car with the vet, and this visit may set the stage for future problems. I would start off with some short exposure to the car, and then build up to some longer trips. Make sure your kitty is comfortable on their initial trips by keeping them cozy with their favorite cat sweater, hydrated, and make sure to pay attention when appropriate to comfort them.
Your cat’s first time in a car could be as simple as just exploring and relaxing for five minutes.
This step may not seem necessary but the slower the adjustments are, the easier they are on your cat. On your way to the actual vet appointment, allow plenty of time for yourself to have a calm and non-stressful drive to keep your cat chill. If you feel rushed and stressed, your cat will pick up on that ,nd you will be setting both you and your cat up for avoidable anxiety.
If you are taking your cat in the car frequently, and are looking for a cat carrier for your car, you can check out this article I wrote about some of the best cat carriers for cars.
Keeping Your Cat Calm At The Vet
Through your gentle and frequent handling of your cat, you will help prepare your cat for the experience of being handled by the vet, as necessary for kitty’s medical care. When cats go to the vet, vets need to hold them in many different ways to complete their health check ups.
You will never be fully prepared for this as it is hard to replicate all the different variables that will be happening inside the vet’s clinic. For example, there will lots of noises, new people, other cats, dogs or other animals, and just generally new everything.
I recommend you start getting your cat used to being touched like they will be when they go the vet. You can perform some general health check ups that will handle your cat similarly to how kitty will be handled at the vet’s office. Check kitty’s ears; try to open kitty’s mouth and look inside; check each paw. Your cat will be comforted by your touch as his/her trusted human, and more ready for the vet’s examination! It also gives you the benefit of making sure your cat stays healthy in the comfort of your home.
Other examples of this can be trimming your cat’s nails on occasion, moving your hands along kitty’s coat to ensure there is not any unusual lumps. Just having your cat on your lap, and petting him or her can get your cat more accustomed to human contact.
You can also get your cat more use to human contact with a grooming routine. Brushing your cat especially the long haired ones is also pretty important to your cat’s health, so there is no real downside in this. I wrote this, and it has a list of brushes that I reviewed to be good.
If you are worried about your cat being too stressed, you can give kitty some anxiety-combating medication. Try talking with your vet ahead of time about skipping the waiting area and going straight into a private room. Avoiding other animals will keep your cat a lot calmer.
If you are at the vet’s office, and your cat just can not handle all the stress, and it seems like your cat will not be able to make it through the examination, I would discuss with your vet the option of sedating your cat, if they deem it necessary. This step might seem scary, but it is probably the best option for everybody.
I know that taking your cat to the vet can be a hard process, but by following some of the techniques I listed above, you can make the best of a challenging situation.
The main idea that I want you to take away from this article is that the best way to have a successful visit to the vet is to keep your cat stress free.
If you work hard to keep your cat chill and relaxed, there is a much greater chance your cat will cooperate for a successful vet visit. Make your cat feel comfortable and loved, and if you do that, you have maximized your chances that it will all go well!
Blaine is a pet owner and animal lover. His two passions of cats and blogging met and KittyCatReviews was formed.