How to Get Your Cat to the Vet

How to Get Your Cat to the Vet

You love your cat and you want to be able to provide the best healthcare possible. But you don’t want to look like you lost a fight to Edward Scissorhands. Your cat CAN learn to like her carrier which will make getting her to the vet much less of a chore. Here are some tips and recommendations on getting your cat familiar with, and even liking, her carrier.

Becoming Familiar With the Carrier

Midnight investigates her carrier.
Midnight investigates her carrier.
  • Make the carrier a familiar place at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends a lot of time.
  • Place familiar soft bedding inside the carrier or even clothing with familiar scents help cats feel secure.
  • Try placing treats, catnip or toys in the carrier to encourage your cat to go in while at home.
  • It may take days or weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier.
  • Just stay calm and patient and always reward your cat for good behavior in and around the carrier!
  • If trouble persists, you may need to assess the state of the carrier itself (material, size, etc…)

Getting a Cat Into a Carrier

If your cat needs to get to the vet right away and is not accustomed to the carrier, try the following:

  • Start by putting the carrier in a small room with few hiding places.
  • Bring the cat in and close the door.
  • Make sure you move slowly and calmly. DO NOT chase the cat into the carrier, but try to encourage them with treats or get them to come to you.
  • If you carrier has an opening on the top, try cradling your cat and gently lowering them into the carrier and then replacing/closing the top.
  • Once again, familiar bedding in the carrier is effective in establishing familiar smells, or try a synthetic feline pheromone (such as Feliway) and spray the carrier 30 min before use

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Understanding Your Cat

Cats are most comfortable when they are surrounded by what’s familiar. Vet visits can be stressful with the carrier, the cat’s need to become familiar with new places, situations and people, car ride to and from, and the vet office itself because they are out of their normal routine.

Remember to stay calm! Cats can sense our frustrations and anxiety which only adds to your cat’s anxiety.

Cats do not learn from force or punishment. Try to focus on rewarding positive behavior. Give a treat if your cat is sitting calmly in or near the carrier for example.

Don’t Forget About What Happens When you Get Home

As we’ve already established, cats can be very sensitive to smells. Unfamiliar smells can trigger strife between cats as a result of them no longer recognizing one another. Aggressive behavior can be the result when they see each other as strangers. Follow these tips to avoid problems following a visit to the vet:

  • Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes after arriving home to see how the cats interact.
  • If all cats are friendly and calm, let the cat out of the carrier.
  • If you see or sense tension between the cats, take the cat to a separate room while still in the carrier. If needed, let the cat out while alone in the room and provide food, water and a litter box for an overnight stay while it regains the familiar smell of home.
  • If anxiety or aggression persists, contact your vet for more advice.

For future visits:

  • Use familiar bedding or clothing with the scent of home.
  • Use synthetic feline pheromone (such as Feliway).
  • Bring both cats to the vet together so they both smell the same.

What Kind of Carrier is Best?

Our recommendation is the hard sided carriers that can be opened from the top or the front, as well as taken apart in the middle. Avoid carriers that require the cat to dumped or pulled out.

Carrier-front  Carrier-apart