Cats are very susceptible to stress when visiting a vet, so it’s important as a pet owner to try to minimise this.
You might find a vet who is willing to do house visits and see your cat in their own environment, which is ideal. There are also ‘cat only’ practices, which specialise in cat medicine. Or, your general practice may have ‘cat only’ consulting times so they see dogs and cats at separate times to help reduce waiting room stress.
Some clinics are accredited as ‘Cat Friendly Clinics’ by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM). These clinics have cat friendly facilities and attitudes which actively help reduce the stress of a vet visit for your cat.
Minimising Stress for Your Cat
There are some steps that you can take to reduce your cat’s stress.
- At Home
Cats are expert at hiding their symptoms so be very vigilant in detecting abnormal behaviours and signs and don’t delay going to the vet!
To transport your cat, it will be important to have a very secure cat carrier with washable surfaces. Ideally it should open at the top, which makes it easier to lift the cat in and out. However, if you only bring out the carrier just before a visit to the vet, your cat will hide away as soon as it appears! Instead, leave the carrier out year-round with bedding in it and encourage your cat to sleep in it, eat in it and be at ease with it.
- Getting ready to visit the vet
Spray your cat’s carrier with cat pheromone 15 minutes before you’ll be getting in the car. It will relax her. Also wipe around your cat’s face with a cloth and then wipe inside the carrier with the same cloth. Their own familiar scent is very comforting for cats.
Have a large towel or blanket which smells of home ready to cover the cat carrier in the car and in the waiting room.
If your cat resists, wrap them in a blanket or towel and put both cat and towel into the carrier.
- In the car
Secure the pet carrier in the foot-well or by using a seat belt. If the carrier is on the seat, place some padding underneath to protect the car seat and to keep the carrier level. Cover the carrier with the towel to reduce visual stressors, drive carefully, avoiding sudden movements.
- In the Waiting Room
In a ‘cat only’ clinic or consult time, you can confidently bring the carrier straight in to the waiting area. However, if there is a risk of dogs being present you may need to leave your cat in the car until your name is called. Keep the carrier off the ground on a shelf or seat, as cats feel more secure at a height. Keep the towel over the carrier to block any eye contact with other cats.
- In the Consulting Room
Leave your cat in the carrier on the consulting table with the lid opened so that the cat can jump out in her own time. The vet will talk to you about the history of the illness while the cat adjusts to her surroundings.
Place the towel from the carrier on the consult table so your cat can get a grip on it to avoid slipping and also to comfort her with its familiar smells. If your cat needs to be hospitalised ask the vet to use her own blanket or bedding in the kennel for comfort.
- Returning Home
Let your cat settle back into her own environment, ideally in one room initially, leaving her free to go and hide away in familiar, safe spaces. If she approaches you, give her plenty of gentle petting and reassurance, for as long as she seeks it. Avoid too much attention from family members.
If you have other cats, make sure to supervise them when re–introduced to the sick cat, as she may smell differently to them. Rub them around the head and exchange their natural scents so that they feel at ease with each other.
How often should you bring your cat to the vet?
Kitten stage: After initial visits with your kitten for vaccinations, wormers etc. your vet will want to see your cat at six months of age for a general check up.
While Healthy: An annual visit for a general health check, vaccinations, parasite control, dental checks, etc. is usually enough for young cats up to about 3 to 5 years of age.
Mid-life and aging: After the age of 3 to 5, cats need more frequent and ongoing monitoring and should attend at least twice each year to pick up early signs of illnesses.
Putting pet insurance in place early in life will provide peace of mind in case of accidents and unexpected illnesses in young cats and also when chronic conditions such as heart, kidney, thyroid disease etc. may show up in mid life and need ongoing treatment for life. Learn about Allianz Pet Insurance.
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This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.