A trip to the veterinarian can be a very stressful ordeal for both you and your cat. Although there are far more cats than dogs in America, their pet parents are more reluctant to bring in their feline friends for regular wellness visits due to the amount of effort and anxiety it takes to just get their cat in the carrier! The American Association of Feline Practitioners has developed their Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines to help both cat owners as well as veterinary teams to understand feline behavior and help to reduce stress during visits.
These guidelines show veterinary staff how to recognize early signs of anxiety and fear in cats and how to adapt care for each specific cat’s needs. For some cats, a fun distraction such as a toy or treat may help, but others may prefer a blanket or towel to huddle under for a feeling of protection. Minimizing loud sounds, harsh smells and interaction with other cats can also help to minimize your cats anxiety while at the veterinary hospital. All pets appreciate soft voices and easy movements to not create undo fear while they are in our care and while performing exams, tests or procedures. In more extreme cases, an anti-anxiety prescription may be necessary.
There are a few things you can do at home as well to help minimize stress for your pet and help them feel more comfortable in their carrier, in the car, and at the veterinary office. To help your cat become more comfortable with their carrier, try one or all of these suggestions.
- Place their carrier in a room that your cat spends a lot of time in at home. This will make the carrier feel like a familiar spot.
- Add a few soft and familiar bedding, treats, catnip, and toys
- Each time your cat enters or lays near the carrier, quietly and gently reward them with a treat or some affection.
- When your cat becomes comfortable staying inside the crate with the door close, take a few short drives in the car.
- Some cats prefer to be covered while in the car, however some cats prefer to see what is going on. Pay attention to your cat to see which they prefer.
Eventually, your cat should be comfortable spending time in their crate and traveling. If your cat feels more comfortable in their carrier during their visit, your veterinarian can perform much of the exam while your cat remains in the carrier by removing the top section. Working together, pet owners as well as your Tysons Corner, VA, veterinary staff can make visits for more pleasant for both you and your pet. Keeping up on your cat’s annual wellness and dental exams will help maximize the time you and will have to enjoy your cat.