How to transport your cat to the vet with less stress – for them and for you!
Providing regular health care for your cat is essential to a longer, healthier and more comfortable life for them. However, many cats get stressed going to the veterinarian. Here are some tips to make the trip to your veterinarian easier:
- Try to have your cat associate the carrier with positive experiences. Your goal should be to have them enter the carrier on a regular basis. Leave the carrier in a room where your cat spends a lot of time and give them time to become familiar with it. Placing soft bedding or clothing inside may help them feel more secure.
- Treats, toys or catnip placed inside should encourage them to enter the carrier. It could take days or sometimes weeks for them to trust the carrier, so be patient! Always reward your cat for the behavior you want, so if your cat is sitting near or exploring the carrier, give a treat.
- If your cat is not yet used to the carrier, but needs to go to the veterinarian right away, try putting the carrier and your cat in a small room with few hiding places. Encourage your cat to enter the carrier using a special treat. If that doesn’t work and your carrier has an opening at the top, try to gently cradle the cat and lower it into the carrier. If your carrier allows, removing the top half, placing your cat into the lower half and calmly replacing the top can also work.
- There are many types of cat carriers on the market. Before deciding which one is best for your cat, consider your cat’s size, how well she tolerates handling, and what carrier is easiest for you to transport. It should be safe, secure, sturdy, and easy for you to carry. Some of the best carriers are hard-sided and open from both the front and the top. An easily removable top allows a cat which is fearful, anxious or in pain to stay in the bottom half for exams by the veterinarian.
- It’s always a good idea to secure the carrier with a seat belt to keep your cat safe in the car. Sometimes cats are less anxious if the carrier is covered or partially covered with a blanket or towel, while others like to be able to see out.
Consider buying a feline pheromone that reduces anxiety for many cats. Feliway comes as a spray, a collar and a plug-in diffuser. Use it before and during travel in the carrier.
Dr. Earl Mummert