Cat Behavior 101,  Cats,  Holistic cat care,  Layla Morgan Wilde,  Vet 101

Top 10 Vet Visit Tips

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cat-vet-visit-waiting room-10 tips

Top 10 Vet Visit Tips by Holistic Cat Behaviorist Layla Morgan Wilde

Vet visits can be stressful for pets and their owners. Every human and pet has their own way of reacting to a stressful situation like travelling to a vet’s waiting room filled with ill or injured animals. These REVISED tips help prevent the fur from flying.

1) Be prepared. Whether it’s a routine vet visit or an emergency, reduce stress by preparing a carrier in advance. Store carriers in easy to access locations. Before leaving home, be sure the pet carrier is clean and in good condition with no broken zippers, faulty hinges or locks. For pets who hate going into the carrier, consider turning an ordinary carrier into a cozy, everyday hideaway. Place a plush pillow and toys inside and cover the carrier with a stylish throw to match your decor. Leave the entrance door open. Top loading carriers are more convenient for resistant cats.

To avoid carsickness, don’t feed kitty at least an hour before leaving. Have a pet ID with collars ready even for pets who normally don’t wear collars. Many cats have escaped from cars to the vet’s parking. Place a cozy old towel or t-shirt with a familiar scent into the carrier. Spray the interior with calming Feliway or other pheromone-based “feel good and safe” spray. Other calming alternatives include homeopathy products like Rescue Remedy or flower essences. Have all pet info handy including meds, supplements, dates of last visit, vaccinations and insurance especially if this is a first visit to a new vet. Remember your check book, cash or credit cards.

2) Communicate. Cat are creatures of habit and most hate leaving their home. Before heading out the door, communicate to Kitty what’s happening i.e. We’re going to travel in the car for short time and visit the vet who will help you feel better. There will be other animals and new things but you will be safe. I love you and you’ll come home soon after. Whether you believe your cat understands or not, it will make you feel better. Whether you talk or not, your cats will notice by your actions and tone of voice if you’re nervous. Try to stay calm and speak softly.

3) Stressed human= Stressed cat. Calm human = calmer cat. Cats are skilled at mirroring and internalizing their human’s behavior. If you’re freaked out about going to the vet, chances are your cat will be too. Before, during and after the vet visit breathe deep, slow breaths. Before leaving the house stretch, do yoga, chant, pray, meditate or whatever to get yourself into a calm, balanced state. Fear and love cannot exist at the same time. Focus on love and a positive outcome.

4) Half the fun is getting there. When possible, choose a vet who lives nearby. Make appointments that don’t require travelling during rush hour. Play soft, relaxing music. Place the carrier in the back seat or cargo area of an SUV secured with a seat belt. If two closely bonded cats are going for a wellness check-up, it may be less stressful to use one large carrier instead of two small ones. Lifting and moving carriers can be hard on your back and knees (see stretching # 3). Carrying the carrier with both arms is less jostling than using the handle. Before picking up the carrier, bend your knees to protect your back.

5) Inform the vet clinic office in advance if you there is anything unusual about the cat or if the cat is extra anxious or aggressive.

6) Don’t let the cat out of the bag. Don’t let the cat out of its carrier during the trip or in the waiting room.

7) You have arrived at your destination. Make sure the carrier(s) is securely closed before carrying it into the clinic. Many a cat has escaped from their carrier into a vet clinic parking lot or worse, a busy street.

8) Vet clinic waiting rooms aren’t play rooms. It’s a hospital. Use your common sense and practice good vetiquette. If possible, don’t bring rambunctious young children. If you must, make sure they have toys and treats to amuse them. This is your pet’s vet visit. Let the focus be on your cat and not the other animals, their guardians or your cellphone. If you must use your cell phone speak softly. Treat the clinic staff politely. They work hard under stressful conditions. Respect everyone in the room and have compassion for their mood. They’re all there for different reasons from a routine wellness visit to a serious illness. You are all equally important. Don’t pet other animals or encourage their attention. Some cats may feel threatened by it and some even resent flattering another pet. If there are enough seats, place the carrier next to you with the door facing you so you and kitty can see each other. In a crowded waiting room place the carrier at your feet as far away from other pets as possible. If your cat is terrified of dogs, maintain your calm energy and tell them they are safe in their carrier. In extreme cases, consider a vet with a feline-only practice, a mobile vet or one who makes home visits.

9) A Touchy Situation. Many pets are comforted by having their guardian hold them during an examination. My vet often asks me to help during the exam but some clinics have a policy of not allowing pet parents into the examining room. Some don’t mind but won’t let them into the back room where blood is drawn, catheters inserted etc. If it’s important to you to be in the examining room, ask in advance what the clinic policy is. No matter how concerned, try to stay calm and let the vet and vet tech do their job.

10) Happy Trails. Before leaving the clinic be sure you have all your paperwork, any instructions, medsff and receipts safely placed in a handbag or bag. Check the carrier before heading to the parking lot. Tell your cat they were a wonderful patient and they’re going home where their favorites toys and treats are waiting.

To avoid all vet trip stress consider a mobile vet with a clinic on wheels or vet who makes house calls.

30 Comments

  • Taylor Bishop

    Thanks for this advice for visiting a vet. I’m glad you mentioned you should try to stay calm and speak softly to cats because they can tell if you’re nervous. It sounds important to also do what you need to before the visiting the vet so you can ask the vet any questions with a calm, collected mind.

  • Gerty Gift

    I liked your advice to be prepared and to prep the carrier in advance. My friend was talking to me about taking her cat to the vet and how she’d been having a difficult time with getting her in the carrier. I guess doing something like this would make a huge difference, especially if she was more comfortable with the carrier ahead of time.

  • Rosie Beckett

    I recently adopted a cat and I am going to take him to his first animal hospital visit in a few days, so I appreciate the tips that you provide in this article. You make a great point that I should play relaxing music for my cat to help him stay calm on the ride to the vet. Also, it makes sense that you say to make sure that I find ways to meditate and be relaxed before the visit to the vet because my cat will sense my relaxation or stressed based on how I feel.

  • Gerty Gift

    I liked what you said about the correlation between you being calm and your cat being calm. I never put that together when I was taking her to the vet. We’ll be sure to work on this and a few other things so that she’s a little more comfortable when we go visit. Thank you!

  • Penelope Smith

    I am planning on getting a puppy or cat this Christmas and I need to find veterinary to take it too. It does seem like a good idea to know that if where I am going in case of an emergency. It would be nice to get a vet that I could go to in an emergency situation.

  • Taylor Anderson

    One of my friends recently got an ESA cat, so she’ll need to take them to the vet every year. However, my friends other cats at home tend to be skittish and hate visiting the vet. I love how you mentioned that she should play relaxing music while in the car, as it will help her cat calm down. These tips could really help my friend take her cat to the vet, so thank you for sharing them.

  • Sutton Turner

    I am glad you said that a calm human can calm a cat. I am taking my kitten to the vet for her shots next week. I really appreciate the tips on visiting the vet with your cat.

  • Bethany Birchridge

    It’s fascinating that cats mirror and internalize their human’s behavior, so being calm at the vet will help you cat be calm too. My dad has been thinking of adopting a cat, so I think that these tips could really help him out. Do you have any tips for choosing a good vet in his area?

  • Millie Hue

    It really helped when you emphasized to keep the carrier securely closed to ensure that your cat will not get lost when visiting the vet clinic. My best friend could really use this advice because she’s a new cat owner, and it will be her first time to take her cat to a clinic. Since her cat easily gets nervous, it might jump out and get lost if the carrier is not locked properly. So thanks a lot for the tip!

  • Jenna Hunter

    I appreciate your tips on getting a cat to the vet and using a big carrier for two cats if they can go at the same time for wellness checks. My sister just got a couple of cats and needs some advice on how to get them more comfortable going to the vet. I think that taking them together and playing nice soft music, in low traffic, seems like they are some good ways to do it.

  • Sutton Turner

    I like how you mentioned that if you are acting calm, that your cat will act calm. My cat Stevie is sick and I am planning on taking her to the vet tomorrow. Thanks for the tips on making a vet trip easier.

  • Jack Duff

    I like that you mentioned that cats can pick up on your stress. It makes sense that if I am stressed about taking my cat to the vet, he would get anxious too. He has a hard time at the vet, so I am looking for tips to make it easier on everybody. I will definitely keep this in mind and try to stay calm for next time!

  • Ernest London

    I like that you mentioned to work on not being stressed when taking your cat to the vet. It makes sense that the cat could pick up on your emotions. I am trying to find ways to make taking my cat to the vet easier. I will definitely have to work on calming my own nerves.

  • Burt Silver

    Thanks for mentioning to try and reduce travel time as much as possible. My cat gets very anxious in the car, and it makes vet visits stressful. I will try to find a vet that is close to my house and make sure I don’t set appointments during rush hour, like you said!

  • Jacqueline

    This is our month to go to the vet and we are already dreading it!…Have a fun weekend, precious friends…xoxo…Calle, Halle, Sukki, Mommy Cat, Daddy Cat

  • Bernadette

    So glad we have a house-call vet but there are times we have to travel to a vet and all these things are wonderful for kitties–I’m sure mine get really tired of listening to me tell them stories and sing!

  • Skeeter and Izzy

    These are all excellent tips. I usually cover all but the part of the carrier facing me as we drive,cat always in the front seat buckled in. I talk and touch as much as possible thru the holes in the side of my carrier. I cover everything up when we get out of the car until we are seated,then if possible I open a peep spot where they can see me and I can touch them and I talk softly to them the entire time. Skeeter is very vocal the whole time and Izzy tries to become invisible by going under the blankie in the carrier. We get er done tho! MOL Luvs Skeeter and Izzy >^..^<

  • Brian

    Those were all so good! I wish our vet lived closer but she is a 30 minute car ride. We had two closer but after 2 misdiagnosis we made a change. We love her though even if it does take a while to get there.

  • Catsparella

    These are great tips, Layla! I especially like #2: I always tell the kitties where we are going and what’s going on!

    Thank you for stopping by to wish Charlie a happy birthday! πŸ™‚

  • Cherry City Kitties

    We love, love, love your vet tips and these are all great. One thing mom found that helps is to take an old shirt she cut up and it covers the holes on the sides and part of the front so it’s kinda dark. That and she talks so nice to us when we have to go to the v-e-t. We are glad it’s a short trip.
    Harry, Dexter and Tipp

  • Caren Gittleman

    I am blessed that both of the cats that I have had have NEVER had issues going to the vet.

    I like to put the carrier in the front seat of the car (facing me) and I either put the radio on with calming music, or I actually SING all the way there. I can’t sing worth a darn but it works! I also rub Cody’s nose at the traffic lights πŸ™‚

  • Tamago

    Thank you for great tips. I have to remember to keep myself calm! It is often hard not to freak out when my boys are clearly sick.
    I love the image. “No meowing.” LOL!

  • Sparkle

    My human does all this… and I still hate the vet and tremble the whole time I am there. Although I do have to say, I am told I am a good patient because I am frightened into immobility.

  • Janet@TheCatOnMyHead

    Great post. As our vet does come to the house for the once-a-year wellness check-up and shots, an occasional trip to the vet does occur. I had never thought about spraying the inside of the carrier with Feliway. I am definitely remembering that for the next time. Most of the kitties are okay once they are in the carrier, it is just the getting them in which is the hassle, unless, of course, it’s time to come home. Then they’re in lickty-split. Thanks again for the very thoughtful and informative post. Janet

  • Anonymous

    So important. Thank you. It reminded me of you know what, with Cheddar on Nov. 27.

    Love love love love the illustration.

    You’d be the perfect book illustrator for any book.

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