Getting Your Cat to the Vet

Introduction to Veterinary Visits for Cats

Does getting your cat to the vet conjure up images of a terrifying horror movie? The fur is flying, blood-curdling screams send chills down your spine, and your arms are shredded from those dagger-like claws! Veterinary visits can be terrifying for you, your cat, and the veterinary team. Because of this, many cats do not receive regular veterinary care, and sadly, for some cats, the only time we see them is when they are sick. We want to see your cat when it is healthy and right away when you suspect something is amiss. Preventative care and early medical intervention are the best ways to keep your cat with you for as long as possible. Here are some tips and hints to help you get the best care for your cat.

Using a Carrier

We highly recommend using a carrier. It keeps your cat contained in the vehicle and at the hospital. Choose a hard-sided carrier – ones that have a front door but also have a top that opens or comes off are the most cat-friendly. If you don’t have a carrier – call us, we can help! Teach your cat that their carrier is a safe, familiar place. It starts long before the vet visit. Put the carrier in a safe and familiar place in the home. Put in some soft, comfy bedding, or a piece of clothing with your scent on it. Treats, catnip, or toys will also help to make their carrier a safe space. You may even be able to teach them to go into the kennel on command. This process may take weeks to months, but it will be worth it. Then once they like their kennel, start training them to be comfortable with trips out to the car and back to the house and eventually for short trips in the car.

Tips for Immediate Vet Visits

If your cat is not used to a carrier but needs to go to the vet right away, here are some tips: you may need the help of a second person to help hold the carrier and close the door, you may also want to wear thick clothing with long sleeves and sturdy leather gloves. To get your cat into the carrier, move slowly, do not chase the cat, encourage them with treats or toys. You can try securely wrapping them in a towel and placing them in the carrier, or if you can handle them, pick the cat up and put them in. Sometimes this means you have to be a bit sneaky and either take off the top of the carrier, set them in it, and quickly get the top and door on. Alternatively, you can try to stand the carrier on its end with the open door facing up and holding the cat up over the carrier, allowing you to lower them into it. Use a dark blanket to cover the carrier to help the cat feel safe and protected. Transport only one cat per carrier – the only exception would be small kittens or kittens and their mother.

Calming Aids and Medications

Feliway is a synthetic feline facial pheromone analog spray that helps calm the cat. It should be sprayed in and around the carrier and on any blankets in the carrier at least thirty minutes before placing them in it. Medications like Gabapentin are becoming widely used to help reduce the anxiety that cats feel at the vet. Cerenia is an anti-nausea medication that can also help make their trip more pleasant. These medications may be prescribed – call your veterinary team to inquire.