Preparing your cat for a vet visit

cat in carrier

Bringing your cat to the vet can be stressful. Cats hate their routines being messed with. They dislike the cage because it stops their ability to escape and evade, which is a cat’s first choice when they sense danger. It also takes them out of their territory in which they feel comfortable, taking them to the clinic with different smells and other animals.

In a study by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), it was found that 52% of cats in the U.S. had not been taken to the veterinarian in the past year for necessary check-ups. They also found that only half as many cats receive annual exams as dogs.
These disheartening numbers are largely due to cat owners anticipating unpleasant experiences while taking their cats to the vet clinic.

The survey showed, as high as 58% of cat owners said they believed their cat hated visiting the vet. 38% of cat owners also said they get stressed out at the thought of veterinary visits.

So, what can be done to help our feline friends be happier about visiting the clinic and therefore make the experience less stressful for both them and you.


How can you help?

Selecting the right carry cage

Having a carry cage that opens from the top rather than the front allows you to remove the top half of the carrier to place your cat in instead of trying to force them through the front door. Once at the clinic, these types of carry cages allow us to examine your cat from the comfort of their cage. It’s important to place a blanket or favourite toy with their scent in the cage to help them feel at home. Cats are not used to being transported so its important that you train them to feel comfortable when contained, you can find more information on encouraging your cat to be happy in a cat carrier here

Natural support of pheromones:  

We stock a range of products that provide natural ways to reduce stress – such as Feliway and Calmex. Pheromone sprays such as Feliway use a synthetic copy of the happy messages (Feline Facial Pheromones) cats leave when they are comfortable and happy through acts such as face rubbing. Spray the carry cage and blanket with Feliway10-15 minutes before your pet enters.

Minimise movement: 

Allow your cat to get comfortable in their carrier before starting the journey into the clinic. When transporting, secure the cage in the car and place a towel over the carry cage (which can also be sprayed with Feliway). You should be mindful of how you hold the carrier, ensuring that you reduce movement as much as possible.

Waiting at the clinic:

Cats instinctively like an aerial advantage, it helps them feel secure when they can easily see their surroundings. Our clinics have cat towers and towels which allow owners to place their cat carriers on an elevated surface.  

Keep calm:

We understand seeing your furry family member stressed is upsetting, however, animals can sense if you are rushed and stressed verse happy and calm. It is important to provide them with reassurance through how we interact with them.  

How can we help?

The ‘Chill Protocol’ is used industry-wide to reduce fear, anxiety and aggressive behaviour in animals when coming into the clinic.  It involves giving the animal prescribed medications to mildly sedate them prior to the visit.

A recent study showed that Nupentin given 2 hours before a vet visit reduced fear-associated behaviour in 77% of cats compared to a placebo. This means the cats could be examined more easily and had procedures like blood sampling done without having to be fully sedated. To be even more effective it can be combined with products like Feliway or Calmex. Call our team or ask our vets when you are next in the clinic about scripting out the chill protocol for your cat.

Reducing the stress and anxiety of our patients is extremely important to us, not only for the well-being of your pet but also for the safety of our team. In some instances, we may require your cat to have the Chill Protocol before visiting our clinic.

If you stress about bringing your stressed cat to the vet, there are options available to reduce stress for everyone to ensure our feline friends don’t miss out on important vet visits.

Additional reading from International Cat Care


Franklin Vets

Franklin Vets - excellence in veterinary care for dairy, farming, lifestyle, equine and household pets. BESTPRACTICE ACCREDITED NZ.