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How to prepare your cat for the vet – Tips

Cat in cage, ready to go to the vet by car

How to take your Cat to the Vet

Vet Trips for Cats

Trips to the vet are often frightening for cats. Find out our top tips for getting your cat to the vet

Issues with transporting a pet cat can start if the cat develops a negative association with the cat carrier.  How often do you get out the cat carrier in preparation for the vet visit and as soon as your cat sees carrier they quickly make themselves scarce?

What if you could teach your cat to love their carry cage, car travel and the vet visit?  The following steps will improve your chance of getting the cat to the vet without incident, and your cat’s chance of having a positive experience at the vet clinic. This means we can examine your cat more frequently and pick up health issues earlier or prevent them before they become unwell.

Vet trips for cats start with the cat carrier

To successfully get your cat to the vet, you need to make sure the cat’s time in the carrier is a pleasant experience. We recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Put the carrier in a room at home where your cat spends most of their time and put a comfortable bed/blanket inside
  2. Have the carrier door open at all times
  3. Put random treats/biscuits in the cage throughout the day
  4. Start feeding meals next to the cage
  5. Put the bowl next to the carrier door
  6. Then put the bowl inside the cage, so they can put their head inside to reach the food but still have most of their body out of the cat cage
  7. As the cat relaxes with this, start putting the bowl further back in the cage (encouraging the cat to willingly go right into the cage)
  8. When cat is relaxed (with their whole body inside the cage), close the door for a minute (while they are distracted and eating out of their bowl)
  9. Gradually close the door for longer periods

The cat must be comfortable eating food in the cage before getting them used to the car.

Taking your cat to the vet by car

Cat carriers should be secured using a seat belt across the cage.  Try bringing your pet into the vet on an empty stomach. This will reduce car sickness. They may also be more willing to eat treats during the car ride and at the clinic.

Repeat short car trips often so the pet becomes comfortable during car travel. Gradually extend the duration of your trip.  Because cats also like to hide, covering the cat carrier with a towel makes them feel safe and reduces anxiety.

Medications to calm your anxious cat

Some cats experience such severe travel anxiety that medication may be the best way to prepare them for a trip to the vet.

Feliway is a pheromone (a substance released by mother cats) that relieves anxiety in cats. Spray it in the car or on the towel that covers the cage (ideally 15 mins before using the cage).   You can purchase it at Port Road Vet Clinic as a spray or a plug-in diffuser (for use at home).

We also have an anti-anxiety medication called Neurontin which is especially good for aggressive cats. Give it two hours prior to leaving home for maximum effect. We have seen dramatic improvements when this is given to our angry cats!

Please give us a call on 08 8340 0388 if you want to try Feliway or Neurontin prior to your visit, or book an online appointment if you wish to discuss more tips for getting your cat to the vet.