Conquering the Carrier and Other Feline Veterinary Visit Barriers

We can tell from the support of our community members and the care they show their pets that they do not intend to neglect the health of their pets by not seeking preventative veterinary care. Actually we know that many owners feel that these visits can do more harm than good by placing unnecessary stress on their pet and choose to keep them home for these reasons. In order to keep both you and your pet happy we have compiled a list of suggestions that may aide in decreasing the stress of veterinary visits.

To begin, we suggest finding a veterinarian that is best suited to the needs of you and your cat. There are a wide variety of veterinary services and specialties and finding a veterinarian who fits the specific needs of your cat may help ease some of your pet’s anxiety. Cats who are particularly nervous about interacting with dogs may benefit from a feline only practice where they will not risk the smells and sights of encountering another species. However, if you’d like the ease of being able to take both your cat and dog to the same clinic, many now offer separate waiting and exam rooms for dogs and cats in order to decrease these scents and interactions. Additionally, a handful of area vets have taken additional steps to demonstrate their dedication to improving the quality of feline care by becoming approved by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. A list of these veterinarians can be found by visiting

Once you have made your appointment you can start laying the groundwork for a successful vet visit.

One of the biggest mistakes we make as cat owners is only bringing out our cat’s carrier when it is time to go to the vet. This may cause our cat to associate and develop a strong aversion to their carrier. In order to make the carrier a positive place for your cat, you can bring it out several weeks before your scheduled visit and allow them to acclimate themselves to the carrier on their terms. Placing a blanket they like or an item of clothing with your scent on it may help to entice your cat to enter the carrier on their own. Another option is to spray these items with a synthetic feline pheromone spray such as Feliway, which can be found in most major pet stores. This pheromone helps produce a calming effect on most cats and may aide in decreasing anxiety associated with the carrier. Additionally, your pet’s favorite toys, treats, or catnip may help entice them into the carrier and help them to feel safe and comfortable while inside the carrier.

Once your pet has learned that they are safe inside their carrier you can start taking them for practice drives in your car to get them used to the routine of leaving the house in their carrier. At first this may only be a trip around the block but as your cat’s comfort level increases, so can your travel time. These trail runs will also help your cat associate riding in the car with positive experiences as well as veterinary visits.

Now that you have successfully carrier and car trained your cat you are finally ready for your veterinary visit. To help acclimate your pet to these new surroundings it is best to leave them inside the carrier while in the waiting room to help limit the stimuli they are receiving. Cats naturally instinct is to run and hide and this could be a very dangerous situation if they are in an unfamiliar location and escape the office. It is best to comfort them through the door of their carrier until you enter the exam room. Once you are in the exam room, per the veterinary staff’s instruction you may remove your cat from it’s carrier and allow them to acclimate to their new environment. In order to ease any anxiety felt by your pet at this time you may bring their favorite treats or brushes if they enjoy being groomed and allow the veterinary staff to meet your pet using these items. This will ensure that your pet is getting positive reinforcement that they will accept throughout this interaction and will increase the likelihood that your veterinary visit will be successful.

These tips may also prove to be useful to owners attempting to make the trip with their pet to our low cost spay and neuter clinic. Pets undergoing surgery should not consume any food, including treats, prior to surgery per the instructions received regarding your pet’s spay or neuter surgery.

If you need help finding a veterinarian in greater Kalamazoo, try the new Resource Directory on our website!

KHS Blog Authors

%d bloggers like this: