Taking a cat to the vet is a stressful activity even for the most seasoned cat owners. The car ride and time in the cat carrier is foreign and often unnerving to them, regardless of the number of times they’ve been in one. This results in a relentless tidal wave of sad and stressed-out meowing.
So, what are some of the more important things to know when taking a cat to the vet? Before we get into them, we want to remind cat owners to bring their furry friends in for a checkup at least annually.
Get a Good Carrier
Cat carriers are not all made the same. Some are quite cheaply made and can break easily, while others are made of stronger materials. Plastic carriers are quite common and work well for lots of people. Smaller animals can fit into bag-style carriers, which are more ergonomic and easier to transport. When choosing one, be sure not to get one too large as you still have to carry it while your cat is inside!
Make an Appointment
With the exception of emergency care vets and vet hospitals, most regular veterinarian offices will require an appointment. If you have decided to take your cat in for a checkup, or some form of care, call ahead!
Using the Carrier
With your appointment made, it’s time to get the carrier ready and to get your cat inside to head to the vet! Place at least one towel or a soft blanket down inside the carrier to provide a nice surface for your cat. The trip is especially stressful for most cats, so another thing you can do to help is to put another towel or blanket over the top of the carrier so they cannot see out. For indoor cats, being exposed to so many new things can create a sensory overload.
Once at the Vet
Once you’ve arrived, have a seat, and if you can, use the blanket or towel over the top of your carrier to prevent your cat from seeing the other animals (if that is a trigger for them). Some cats are totally fine with going to the vet or seeing other animals, so for them, it might not be a big deal. Other cats are already going through a hard time by simply being at the vet and seeing another cat might put them over the edge.
During the Appointment
During your appointment, a vet tech will often weigh your cat in advance and perhaps perform a couple of screening procedures. Once the vet enters, the vet or the tech may be the one who handles your cat throughout the appointment, however, in some cases, they may ask you to hold them instead. If so, you can gently place a towel over the cat to prevent any scratching. Some owners may feel confident in their ability to hold their cats without using a towel.
Cats undergoing some sort of medical treatment or procedure will often do so in the back area of the veterinarian clinic. This allows them to sedate the cat if necessary or perform any emergency tasks without the owners in front of them. It can be traumatic for an owner to see their animal in distress.
If you are bringing your cat in for a procedure, the cat is often handed off to staff and brought to the back. Your help will not be needed.
Getting Back Home
If you are someone with more than one cat, when you return home, the cat who just went to the vet will now smell like the vet. This can be confusing to your other cats and create tension. In this case, they just need time to regain their scent from being at home. Try to keep the other cats away from them for a brief period.
If a cat has been sedated and is now home, they will need some time to get their motor skills back up to par. Keep other pets away from them as they recover and leave some water nearby in case they get thirsty!
Most cats are not excited to go to the vet, and it will be a little stressful for you to hear them yowling while you are driving to and from the clinic. It is important to remember their stress is temporary and you are doing this to keep them healthy. When looking for a vet, ask around to friends and family first to see how they like their vet. Otherwise, go with your gut!