As we all know, taking your cat to the vet can be stressful. Strange carriers, an unfamiliar car journey, and strange sights, smells, and noises can all frighten your kitty and make them anxious. Often getting your cat into the carrier in the first place is a challenge all in itself, so here are a few tips to help get them used to their carrier and make the experience a little easier on both kitty and owner.
You want to have your kitty associate their carrier with positive experiences. If they do this, they will often go inside all on their own.
- Start by leaving the carrier in your kitty’s favourite room, since they spend a lot of time there they will get accustomed to it being there with them.
- It can help to place something familiar inside for them, maybe bedding that they use or something with your own scent.
- Putting toys and treats inside will help entice them to enter as well.
- It may take a while, but be patient and reward them when you start to see desired results.
If there is an emergency or your cat is not yet used to the carrier, here are a few more tricks you can try:
- Bring the cat into a small room, preferably one where there aren’t many places for them to hide. Bring in the carrier second and close the door.
- Move slowly and do not chase the cat.
- Try to encourage them into the carrier with treats or toys.
If the carrier opens on the top, you can also gently pick up your kitty and lower them in. If you can remove the top completely, place the cat on the bottom half and very calmly put the top back on. It can also help to spray a calming pheromone such as Feliway into the carrier at least half an hour before you have to leave. Feliway is available as a spray or a wipe, and you can also try catnip or honeysuckle as a treat. This, along with familiar bedding, can help to relax your kitty and feel more at ease.
You want a carrier that you can easily carry, and is stable and safe for your cat. When you are in the car the carrier should be secured with a seatbelt, this is for the safety of your kitty and to help make the journey a little less bumpy. All cats are different and some might like to see where they are while others might feel more comfortable with the carrier being covered with a blanket or towel.
So now you are at the vet! The type of carrier you have can also be helpful once your kitty is being examined; a carrier like the one mentioned above that can have the top removed allows access to the cat while allowing them to still feel safe in the bottom half. Most cats do not like to be dumped out or pulled on so try and stay away from carriers that require this.
If you have more than one cat, you may need to be cautious upon returning home. Your kitty will smell differently after coming back from the vet and their brothers and sisters may not recognize their scent anymore. This can cause them to become aggressive towards the returning cat, as they see them as a stranger.
- Let the cat remain in their carrier and watch the reaction of the other kitties. If everything seems fine and peaceful, go ahead and let them out.
- If there appears to be tension, keep the cat safe in their carrier until you have brought them into another room. Keep them separate and away from the other cats with their own food, water, and litter box for at least a day. This will help them smell more like home again.
- Familiar scents from home, like from bedding or your clothing or even Feliway, can help reintroduce your cats to one another.
- You can also try bringing your kitties to their appointments together so there are no strange scents between them.
Hopefully this will help to make the experience of the vet a little less stressful, and keep both you and your kitty happy. With a bit of love and care both of you will be vet visit pros in no time!