Today I took a kitten to the vet for the first time. I’ve had dogs my whole life and am very used to walking a very nervous dog on a leash into the exam room, but taking a cat to the vet was a different experience. In fact, some cats and cat owners find so much anxiety in visits to the vet that surveys show cats visit veterinarians half as much as dogs. Many owners only bring their cat to the vet when they show signs of illness but the AVMA recommends wellness visits for your cat twice a year. “Maintaining wellness is much easier than treating illness.” So what can you do to help keep vet visits regular and stress free? Here are some tips!
- Be honest and upfront with your vet office staff about how your cat usually reacts at the vet or with strangers. This way vet staff know what to expect and how to schedule you so they they can take their time to create an easier experience.
- Come prepared with a list of questions or concerns. Does you pet have any abnormal behavior, eating and litter habits? Make a note. It’s easy to forget points that you wanted to bring up so make the most of your time there by getting all the information you need. You can stay on top of your cat’s health and get them used to being examined with this seven step at home exam.
- Schedule an appointment for a time that won’t make you feel rushed. If you have a flexible schedule ask office staff what a low-stress time of day might be.
- Get your cat comfortable in their carrier before the vet visit. Leave it open in the house with your cat’s favorite treats, toys, or catnip. The carrier should feel like a safe, positive place. Be sure to use a cat carrier that opens from the top so that the cat can be picked up out of the carrier without having to reach in the door, making them feel cornered or nervous. A hard carrier with a removable lid, or a soft carrier with a top that zips open will work. Be sure your carrier is large enough for your cat to move around easily. Here are more tips for getting your cat comfortable in their carrier.
- Know what to expect. If you’re calm it may help your cat remain calm. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect during your vet visit.
- Find the right veterinarian for your cat. Do you require specific hours or days for appointments? Are you looking for a vet with any special skills or interests? Do you need a dog free area? Here are some tips to help you pick the vet that’s right for you and your pet.
When all else fails, ask your vet for advice!
Stay healthy and be well!