Because cats so often hate going to the veterinarian, getting them there makes people anxious. That anxiety is then picked up by the pet, only making her trepidation worse. It’s important to remain outwardly calm, both while preparing for the trip and also once you’re at the doctor’s office. Seeming calm is easier said than done, but there are other things you can do to ease your cat’s worry.
In preparation for the visit
- If your cat has a history of showing severe stress about visiting the doctor’s office, ask your veterinarian about prescribing some anti-anxiety medication that you can give her before the visit.
- Bring along your pet’s favorite treats so that either you or a member of the veterinary team can offer them as a reward for cooperating, or to use as a distraction from what she finds an unpleasant experience.
- Try a feline facial pheromone spray such as Feliway. The American Association of Feline Practitioners says to consider using it both in the carrier and the car 10 to 15 minutes prior to help your cat calm down. Many cats find the scent soothing.
- Put a favorite toy as well as familiar-smelling clothing in the carrier to help acclimate your pet and make her feel more secure.
During the visit
- Request going immediately to the exam room rather than sitting in the waiting room with other cats — or dogs.
- If waiting in the exam room is not possible, wait in the car and ask the front desk to call or text you when the doctor is ready to examine your pet.
- Talk soothingly to your cat in a low-pitched voice.
- Avoid behaviors that could make your cat more nervous. Moves that backfire include clutching your cat, talking right in her face, and saying “Shhh,” which the American Association of Feline Practitioners points out can sound like another cat hissing.
- Ignore negative behavior rather than trying to correct it. A physical correction like tapping your cat’s head not only is unfair, it can also increase her fight-or-flight response.