Bringing your cat to the veterinarian for annual or professional veterinary appointments can be a stressful and scary experience for them. For some pet owners, bringing their cats to the veterinary clinic doesn’t seem too complicated. For others, though, even something as routine as a vet appointment can cause a lot of anxiety. Whether this is your first trip to the vet or your cat’s annual checkup, it can help to know how to prepare beforehand.
#1: Condition your cat to their carrier
Do you only bring the cat carrier out for trips to the veterinarian, then wonder why you have such a hard time getting your cat to go in? Teach your cat that their carrier is a safe haven instead of a feared torture device. Place your cat’s carrier in a quiet corner, and put blankets, toys, and treats inside. Let your cat go in and out, and replenish the treats often. Once your cat is comfortable, close the door for a few seconds while they are inside, then release them. Increase the duration, then add a trip around the house, supporting the carrier from the bottom to avoid jostling your cat.
#2: Hold off on feeding your cat
Food is the most powerful motivator we have to entice your cat to interact with our veterinary team. Skip your cat’s breakfast the morning of their appointment, so they arrive hungry and are more likely to be interested in treats. If your cat has a favorite high-value treat, such as tuna or spray cheese, bring some along, or let us know so that we can prepare for a successful visit.
#3: Practice handling your cat at home
Cats are naturally suspicious and balk at much of the handling involved with a routine veterinary exam. However, if you make handling a game, with lots of treats as rewards, you can acclimate your cat to these activities. Start by touching your cat’s foot, then giving them a treat. Work up to picking up their foot, then add other maneuvers, such as touching their ears, lifting their tail, or opening their mouth.