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Tips bringing in your cat

A trip to the veterinarian can be more stressful for cats than for dogs. Here are some tips to help make your clinic visit more pleasant

Transporting Your Cat

Buying a Carrier

  • Top-loading carriers make it easier to place your cat inside
  • Carriers with a top and side opening have additional versatility
  • If your carrier has a removable top, your cat may feel more secure remaining inside throughout the exam

Practice at Home

  • Leave the carrier out for several days before the appointment so your cat gets used to it
  • Put treats, toys, blankets and a favorite person's clothes in the carrier for a comfortable and familiar environment
  • Reinforce your cat's positive associations with the carrier using calm praise
  • Never dump your cat out of the carrier - either let her walk out or gently remove her from the carrier

Car Rides

  • Always put your cat in a carrier when traveling in the car - it's safer for you and your cat
  • A synthetic feline pheromone in the carrier may help your cat stay calm during transit
  • Drape a blanket or towel over the carrier to reduce motion sickness
  • Take your cat for a few short car rides to build familiarity
  • Do not feed your cat for several hours before traveling to reduce motion sickness
  • After each successful car trip, reward your pet with positive attention and treats

At the Clinic

  • Practice regular care such as brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing at home
  • Touch your cat's face, ears, feet and tail at home so she will be used to similar procedures at the clinic
  • Go to the veterinarian for visits that don't involve exams or procedures (such as weighing the cat) to create positive associations
  • Ahead of time, ask the clinic staff if you can take your kitty directly to an exam room upon arrival
  • Speak softly, because if you remain calm, chances are your cat will too

Learn more about cat handling

Recognizing Feline Fear

It is easy to confuse fear with aggression or anger in cats. These illustrations show the progression of a cat's facial expression and body posture from a neutral emotional state (left), through increasing levels of fear (middle and right).

Calming Strategies

  • Reward good behavior with treats and ignore bad behavior - never speak harshly or use punishment
  • Ask a staff member if you can open the carrier so your cat can adjust to the exam room and explore
  • Avoid direct eye contact with your cat
  • Handle your cat with a towel if necessary
  • Speak in soft, soothing tones but avoid whispering
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