Bringing your cat to the vet can be stressful, not only for kitty, but for you as well. Here are a few tips to help the trip go as smoothly as possible.
Step 1: Choosing a carrier
A properly designed carrier can make all the difference when you are transporting your cat. When selecting a carrier, be sure it is large enough so that your cat can turn around inside.
Top loading carriers are often a favorite because they allow you to gently lower your cat into them. It can also be helpful to find a carrier that has a removable top. This is especially helpful at the veterinary clinic; if your cat is too scared to come out of his carrier, the veterinarian can remove the top and examine him while he is still huddled in the bottom half of the carrier.
Soft-sided carriers, while they do look nice, are often more difficult to maneuver when you’re trying to get your cat inside because the sides can collapse. These are not recommended.
If you’re still having difficulty with carriers, clear Rubbermaid tubs can make great make-shift carriers. Just make sure you poke air holes and secure the lid tightly.
Step 2: Getting your cat into the carrier
It’s important to get your cat used to the carrier. Keep it in a common area of your home. Make sure to secure the door open so it doesn’t snap shut suddenly and scare him. Put treats into the carrier to encourage your cat to go inside. Also, spraying the carrier with a pheromone spray like Feliway may help to calm your cat. You want him to recognize the carrier as a safe place.
Top loading carriers are the most convenient, but if your carrier does not open from the top, you may tilt the carrier onto its back side so that you can gently lower your cat (back feet first) into the front opening. Some cats like to go spread eagle as soon as they see the carrier, which makes it difficult to fit them through the opening. It may help to wrap them in a towel.
Step 3: Riding in the car
The carrier is the safest place for a cat to be while riding in the car. Please do not allow your cat to roam freely- this is a hazard to both you and your cat.
If you want your cat to become more accustomed to car rides, it may help to take him to places other than the veterinarian. Start with short rides at first, and then slowly increase the duration of the drive. After each successful trip, reward your cat with affection and kitty treats.
Many cats are prone to car sickness, so it’s a good idea for them to travel on an empty stomach.
Step 4: Visiting the vet
The carrier is the safest place for your cat to be when he comes to see the vet. It will help him to feel more secure when he comes into an unfamiliar environment.
It may help to do practice vet visits at home with your cat before bringing him to his appointment. Get him used to you touching his face, ears, feet, and tail. This may help him not to feel threatened when the veterinary staff come into contact with him in a similar manner.
Be sure to praise and reward your cat with treats for his good behavior!