There are about 75 million pet cats and 70 million pet dogs in the USA. However, dogs come to the vet much more often than cats. Why is that? A large part of the reason is simply that people have a hard time getting the cat to the vet! Well, how do you take your cat to the vet? What if it’s not easy? Does your cat suddenly grow 8 legs and 50 claws when you try to shove her into the carrier?
First of all, why?
Why should you bring your cat to the vet? Certainly a reason is if your cat has a problem that needs to be addressed. However, many people just leave it at that. Cats are extremely stoic. Problems need to be serious for a person to notice something is wrong. An important reason your cat should come to the vet a minimum of once a year is to be preventive. Veterinarians would rather prevent disease than treat it, if possible. Additionally, problems often respond best to treatment when identified early. A critical part of this philosophy is a thorough head to tail exam of your cat at least annually.
Your cat may be uncomfortable or upset without you even realizing it.
Finally, depending on health status and lifestyle your cat may need other preventive things such as vaccines, deworming or a blood panel.
OK. Now how?
I have polled several of my cat-savvy clients and created a list of the best tactics for bringing your cat to the vet.
Cats are individuals and what works well for some may not for others. Find what works best for your cat. Be willing to experiment. As you read the list below you’ll see that if you do some things, you won’t be doing others. Some are mutually exclusive.
- Get the right type of carrier. It should be solidly constructed, with firm walls. It should have doors that open both on the front and the top. Generally using the top door is preferred. Soft carriers, carriers with zippers and cardboard carriers are discouraged. A new type of carrier has come out recently where the entire bottom section slides open like a drawer, and for some cats is an excellent choice.
- Spend time with your cat prior to going to the vet. Both affection and play can be helpful in reducing stress when the time comes to leave.
- Use Feliway brand appeasing pheromone spray to help calm your cat. It can be used both on the cat and in the carrier. Follow label directions.
- Rescue Remedy for Pets (not for people) can be used as well, according to the label.
- Keep an open carrier with bedding in a room at home and spray the carrier with Feliway. Place treats in the carrier. The carrier can become a positive place.
- Certain cats do better if they never see cat see the carrier – keep it in a separate room until you are ready.
- Pick up the kitty and hold one of your hands over their eyes – don’t let them see you are putting them in a carrier.
- Use a fleece bag or pillow case to put your cat in, first. Hold the top closed with your hand and put the bag in the carrier without opening it. The bag can be allowed to open on its own once in the carrier and the door closed.
- If cats are difficult to put into a bag or the carrier, try placing them into the carrier hind end first.
- Cover the carrier with a sheet or a towel after your cat is in it. Keep it covered for transport. You can cut a slit in an old towel that the carrier handle can fit through.
- Have something soft and absorbent in the bottom of the carrier such as another old towel. Bring a spare with you for the return trip.
- Don’t ever let your cat outside on the day of the appointment.
- If your cat is the type that will try to hide in difficult to reach places in the house, keep kitty in the bathroom prior to leaving.
- Fast your cat for 6 hours prior to the trip. Withhold any food or treats, but don’t take away water. This is especially helpful for cats that get car sick.
Bringing your cat to the vet regularly is important.
We all want our cats to live long, high-quality, healthy lives. Regular veterinary visits are a crucial part of that.