Black and white cat

how to ease your
cat’s stress when
going to the vet

Dr. Justine Lee, shares her tips about how to ease your cat’s stress when it’s time to visit the vet’s office.

Each year, it’s important to remember to take your cat to the veterinary clinic for his annual exam. The sooner veterinarians can detect medical problems, the sooner we can treat them, and the better for your cat! But, what if your cat gets nervous going to the veterinarian?

Here are five quick tips to ease your cat’s stress when headed for a checkup:

1. Use nutraceutical products at home that can help acclimate your cat to his cat carrier, so he’s calmer when he gets to the veterinarian.

Two of my favorite products that don’t require a prescription, are safe, are relatively inexpensive and seem to work well are:
Feliway, a pheromone that calms down cats, and can be sprayed directly onto a towel or in the cat carrier. (Please don’t spray this directly on your cat!)
Senilife, which contains some plant compounds or extracts (such as gingko biloba), along with vitamins B and E and antioxidants, and can be safely used to calm your cat prior to any stressful event.

2. Use prescription-strength sedation from your veterinarian prior to coming in.

I use high-dose gabapentin to minimize my 18-year-old cat’s stress. It’s a safe, inexpensive drug that is used to prevent seizures, for pain and as a sedative without causing excessive sedation.

3. Limit the amount of food you feed your cat the day of the veterinary appointment.

Nervous cats can sometimes vomit in the car, and feeling nauseated from food in the stomach doesn’t help. When your cat is hungry, it allows your veterinarian to offer more treats, which makes the visit a more pleasant experience for everyone!

4. Request a separate waiting room, or ask to be seated directly in a feline-friendly examination room.

A lot of veterinary clinics typically have a separate cat waiting area, or you can request to be seated immediately in a cat-friendly exam room. Notify the veterinary staff that you’ll be letting your cat wander around, then unzip the cat carrier so your cat has time to explore on his own accord. Better yet, bring a towel from home to place on the floor or exam table so your cat can hide under it if needed and create his own cat cave.

5. Find a veterinary clinic that has gone through special Fear Free training to make sure that you can best work with the veterinary team to keep your cat minimally stressed!

There’s a movement to make sure that veterinary professionals can create a safe, non-stressful visit for your cat, and this added training has helped a lot of frazzled, fearful cats visiting their veterinarian.

When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian about other options to help ease your cat’s stress. Find a veterinarian who will work with you and your cat to minimize a stressful visit to help keep your cat as healthy as possible.