10 Tips for a Less Traumatic Vet Visit

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There is nothing in the world that makes me want to take our cat to the vet – you can’t bribe me with anything wonderful and amazing. I’m not doing it. I will pass that job off onto my husband every single time. I will not do it. I hate the vet’s office with the cat. The vet is great; I actually very much enjoy our cat’s vet and her wonderful personality and her very helpful nature. But my cat hates the vet, and that makes it very difficult and exceptionally traumatic. He knows that the only time he’s in the car is to go to the vet, and he likes to make sure we are as miserable as he. I have to have a carrier. I have to listen to him whine (scream at the top of his lungs is more accurate) and I have to endure his erratic behavior, his sensitivity and his prolonged anger once we get home. I really, really do not like taking my cat to the vet. I brought this up to the vet the last time we were there. I asked her if I really have to bring him if he’s not sick or in danger, and she nodded sympathetically.

Fortunately, she also offered me a list of tips and tricks that can actually make a trip to the vet with our cat a lot less traumatic. I thought it might be helpful to share that with my fellow cat owners. I’ll warn you, however, that I did add in a few for my own personal amusement.

Send Someone Else

Seriously, though, the vet is so much less traumatic and stressful if you don’t have to go. Oh, are we talking about making it less traumatic for the cat? In that case, this one might not work. But if you are in the market of making this visit less stressful on you, you might want to make this your spouse’s job. It’s what I do, and I find that vet visits have become far less stressful since they’re no longer my problem. Seriously.

Find a Great Vet

The difference in a traumatic visit to the vet and one that’s not so bad is actually the vet him or herself. When you have a vet you really like and really trust, you’ll be surprised just how nice the appointment can be. Your cat can tell when you are stressed and uncomfortable, so being in a good place with your vet can really only help your situation.

Prep Ahead of Time

Do you have specific questions and concerns to discuss with the vet? Write them down ahead of time to make your trip a little less stressful and obnoxious. It’s exceptionally helpful to have a list of questions ready since it can be stressful in there when you’re on the spot or your cat is freaking out. You don’t want to forget anything and have to go back or make a phone call.

Make the Carrier more Welcoming

My cat is happier to get in the carrier when it has something in it he likes, like a treat or a blanket or towel. If you can make it a bit more welcoming for your cat, chances increase that he or she might not hate it so much and might not panic so much at the thought of being in there. A welcome carrier might make for a less annoying cat.

Take the Cat on Car Trips

If you can get the cat out of the house with you from time to time, do it. This will help your cat learn to relax in the car and enjoy this more, which might make the next trip the vet a little less stressful. Of course, the cat will probably freak out when he or she realizes where you are, but at the least the drive there was probably a bit better. But please remember not to leave your cat locked in the car, especially in the heat.

Don’t Stress

When you stress, your cat stresses. Take it all in stride and remember that your cat can sense your feelings. If you are able to relax, you might be surprised just how simple this trip the vet will become. A relaxed cat owner might make for a much more relaxed cat.

Bribe the Cat with Treats

We do this all the time, and it works. Just make sure your vet doesn’t mind your cat having any treats or anything before he or she sees the cat. There are some procedures that might make it a bit difficult if your cat has recently eaten. Ask first, and then bribe. It might work well.

Show your Cat Affection and Love

Everyone responds better to love and affection than they do anger and impatience, so remember that with your cat. He or she will love that you are spending more quality time with him, and it will make the trip a bit more relaxing. When your cat is feeling affection, he or she is less likely to freak out.

Leave the Cat in the Carrier if Necessary

My cat cannot come out of the carrier at the vet until we have no other choice but to take him out. Otherwise he freaks out and tries to escape. Sometimes this is more stressful than any other aspect of the trip so if you have to leave him in there, do it. Try not to give dirty looks to other people in the waiting room with their animals out all well behaved and quiet and still, either. Even though I know this is quite difficult.

Bring a Favorite Blanket or Toy

My cat likes it when we put his favorite blanket from our daughter’s room in the carrier with him. It makes him feel comfortable. He always goes to her room when he sleeps and when he wants to get away, and we’ve learned that her belongings comfort him. That means we bring them when the cat needs comfort.

Photo by Theo Heimann/Getty Images

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