Tips on getting your cat to the Veterinarian

Regular visits to the veterinarian for wellness examinations are very important, even for indoor cats.  Unfortunately, most cats do find trips to the clinic stressful!  We offer some simple suggestions below to help make these visits as easy as possible for you and your cat.


Type of Carrier

The type of carrier used is very important and can make a huge difference for your cat!  The best type of carrier is one made with hard plastic, a door at the top and the front, and a top that is easily removable.  Having a top that can be removed easily and quickly avoids the need to physically remove your cat from the carrier once you get to the clinic.  Nervous cats feel much more at ease if they can remain in the bottom portion of their carrier on a soft blanket with familiar smells while the veterinarian performs the physical exam.  The carrier below is a perfect example of one we would recommend for your visit.

Let your cat get used to the Carrier

We suggest you make your cat’s carrier a normal part of the home environment.  Many cats only see their carriers once a year when it’s time to visit the veterinarian, therefore making it a negative association.  Carriers should be left out in the home so they can be freely accessed by your cat at all times either by leaving the door open or by temporarily removing the door.  We recommend putting your cat’s favorite toys or treats in the carrier and putting a soft blanket on the floor to encourage your cat to spend time in the carrier.


During the ride, use a seat-belt to secure the carrier in place so it doesn’t tip and frighten your cat.  Some cats prefer to see out of the window, others are more relaxed when a blanket is used to cover the top of the carrier.  We suggest you experiment with both of these options to find out which your cat prefers.  When you arrive at the clinic, avoid putting the carrier on the floor.  If another pet (particularly a dog) in the clinic goes up to the carrier, this may frighten your cat.  We always try to have a quiet examination room available immediately for you and your cat to minimize stress that may be caused by other patients visiting the clinic.


– Use blankets for the carrier with a familiar smell

– Spray the carrier and blankets lightly with FELIWAY thirty to sixty minutes prior to putting your cat in the carrier to come to the clinic.  Feliway is a synthetic facial pheromone (something only your cat can smell using a special gland in the roof of the mouth) that has a relaxing effect on cats.  The vehicle used to deliver the spray can be offensive to some cats so it’s important to spray it in the carrier at least 30 minutes prior to putting your cat in.  Feliway spray can be purchased from your veterinary clinic and is available at some pet stores.

– If you have tried all of the above suggestions and your cat is still extremely stressed coming in to the clinic, we may recommend an oral sedative prior to your next visit.  Please ask us about what options are available.

You can also access the article on Getting You Cat to the Veterinarian published by the American Association of Feline Practitioners by clicking HERE.