Reducing the Stress of Visiting the Vets

We all know the feeling, your cat’s annual health check and vaccination is due and you are immediately filled with dread.  Your usually delightful and gentle cat turns into a tiger as soon as the cat box appears.

It is very important that your cat is checked by a vet regularly.  A full health check will include weighing your cat, checking their teeth and listening to their heart.   If you consider that a cat reaches the approximate human age of 15 during his first year, then 24 at age 2, and then for each year thereafter a cat ages approximately four cat years for every calendar year, you can see that 6 month to yearly health checks are necessary as a lot can happen in that time.  Cats can’t tell us how they are feeling all the time and we don’t want your cat to miss out on a health check because it is too stressful to visit the vets. Here are a few tips to help make it easier to get your cat to the vets and make the whole experience less stressful.

The first thing is to make sure you use a good cat carrier. A top opening carrier is much easier to use as the cat can be gently lifted in or out - meaning you don’t have to struggle with loading your cat quite as much.  Ideally, the cat box should be a usual part of the furniture.  If you leave it out all the time and put a bed in it that your cat likes then they can choose to go in and out of the box routinely.  This means it will smell familiar so provide reassurance when they do have to make the journey in to see us.  Despite doing all this, some cats will still find the sight of the cat box distressing.  In this situation try to keep calm - keep the basket close, but out of sight and wrap your cat in a thick towel/blanket that smells familiar. Put your cat and the towel into the carrier quickly but gently.

During the journey cover the carrier with a blanket so your cat isn’t startled by the change in scenery.  Keep the radio volume low, and try to avoid sudden manoeuvres.  Stay as calm as you can so your cat doesn’t pick up on stress from you.

When you arrive at the vets, some cats prefer to wait in the car, whilst others prefer to sit quietly in the corner.  Avoid placing your cat box on the floor as people and other animals walking past can be stressful.  Larkmead is a cat friendly practice which means that we have nominated cat advocates and have taken extra steps to try and reduce the stress levels for your cat when you visit.  We have had many cat only consulting sessions at our branch surgeries for some time now and we are about to launch cat only clinics at our Didcot practice.  These clinics will run 3 times a week. The cats will have a separate waiting room and see one of our cat vets (Sarah, Dana, and Rhianna).  If you would like to know more, please contact the practice.