5 Tips for Less Traumatic Vet Visits

| Published on July 14, 2015

If you’re like many cat parents, you avoid veterinary visits except in the case of true emergencies. This is because every aspect of it—from getting your cat into the carrier, to the car ride, to the appointment itself—is stressful for both you and your cat.

The problem with avoiding annual wellness visits, of course, is that your cat may hide signs of illness until it has advanced into something much more complicated, painful, and expensive.

Don’t forego an annual wellness checkup because of stress. Instead, take the time and care to create an experience that will be less stressful.


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1. Make the carrier familiar and comfortable
For your cat, the stress may begin when she sees and smells the carrier—an object she has learned over the years to associate with trips to the veterinarian. She can associate the carrier with bad experiences, especially if is only in it for emergencies. Instead of hiding the carrier between visits, leave it out where it can become a familiar part of her every day routine. Line with bottom with a cozy blanket or towel (preferably one that smells like you or your home), and feed her some treats when she explores it to help form a positive association.


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2. Cover the carrier with a towel
Spritz the towel with a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray (which mimics the pheromones cats exude when they are comfortable and secure) or use a towel that smells like you and your home. Covering the carrier with a towel while you are in the car and in the clinic will help your cat feel less exposed and vulnerable.


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3. Consider supplements or medications to relieve anxiety
Talk to your veterinarian about suggestions for supplements that may help calm your cat. You can find these supplements in your local pet store. In extreme cases, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription sedative. Getting a thumbs-up from your veterinarian beforehand will help ensure that the specific supplement won’t interfere with any tests they will need to perform.


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4. Choose your veterinarian wisely
Don’t choose your veterinarian out of convenience. Instead, explore your options to see which clinic will help your cat feel safest. Look for one that is exclusive to cats, has separate waiting rooms for cats and dogs, or one that uses pheromone plug-ins in their examination rooms. If your options are limited, try to schedule appointments during times that are least likely to be busy.


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5. Choose a mobile veterinarian
Not everyone has access to a mobile veterinarian. But if you do, take advantage! A mobile veterinarian will come to your home with all of the necessary tools to do a full wellness examination, eliminating most of the stress on your cat.

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