Travelling to the vets has potential to be a stressful experience for cats, and we’d like to help you make this experience more relaxing for them and you. Any deviation from your cat’s original day plan (eat, sleep, play, repeat..) can stress them out and there are lots of ways that you can make their journey to the vets more peaceful.
When your cat needs to go to the vets, the first thing that makes an appearance is the cat carrier. For most people, this is the only time the cat carrier comes out and so this becomes negatively associated. If you have a planned visit, it may be worth introducing the carrier into the home environment 1-2 weeks before the trip so that your cat can get accustomed to it. You can encourage your cat to see the carrier as a positive place to be by feeding your cat inside it (with the door open, or even off) and making a cosy bed inside with blankets that smell familiar.
Once your cat becomes more comfortable around the carrier, they will be more likely to voluntarily get inside it (you can still encourage them to do this with their favourite treat) and therefore eliminating one of the stress factors of being wrestled inside. We strongly recommend putting some type of bedding inside. This helps to make them feel more secure and also helps in case of any accidents during the journey! Prior to travel, about 15-30 minutes before, you can also spritz the blankets in the carrier with Feliway pheromone spray to help make your cat feel more relaxed.
Once your cat is inside of their carrier we recommend covering the basket in a light blanket or cover, and keeping the basket off of the floor so that they feel less vulnerable. When carrying your carrier please carry it by the sides and hold it close to your body rather than dandling by the handle as this makes them feel much more secure.
Once inside the car, place your cat carrier somewhere secure and where it will not move if you have to brake suddenly. You can also use a seatbelt to secure the carrier. Drive sensibly and ensure that the radio is kept to a comfortable volume (cats particularly like to listen to classical music and this has been shown to reduce their stress levels). A few cats will vocalise at the start, or throughout the journey. Use a calm and reassuring voice but do not let your cat out of its carrier as this can be hazardous.
When you arrive at the vets, use our cat-only waiting area and ensure you keep the carrier covered. Once you are called in for your appointment, our team will continue using cat friendly techniques to make the visit as stress-free as possible for you and your cat. We also have a dedicated cat only consulting room with a cat climbing wall and pheromone diffusers.