#1: Choosing a carrier
Choose a carrier that is neither too big or too small – your cat should be able to stand up and turn around, but it should also be cozy enough for them to feel safe. The best carriers for vet visits can open from both the front and the top – carriers with many openings allow us to perform your cat’s exam in the carrier if they are nervous.
#2: Make sure that your cat is acclimated to the carrier
Keep the carrier clean and free of dust and debris that may accumulate during storage. Help your cat acclimate to the carrier by making it a part of their daily lives – leave the carrier out in an area where your cat likes to hang out, put a soft bed inside, and either feed your cat in the carrier or put some yummy treats inside to tempt them to check it out!
If your cat already has a negative association with your current cat carrier, purchase a new carrier of a different style than the one used previously and allow them to make positive associations with the new one.
#3: Keep stress low on the drive
Make sure the carrier is in a secure area where it cannot slide around. Cover the carrier with a towel so your cat feels safe. Play some soft music, and take a direct route to the vet clinic to minimize time in the car.
Anti-anxiety supplements and medications play a huge role in keeping your cat calm and happy during their vet visit.
We use a synthetic pheromone called Feliway during your cat’s appointment – it mimics the pheromone in a cat’s cheek that marks the area as “safe” – you may also purchase this to use in the carrier or in the car.
If your cat is especially nervous in the car or the clinic, your veterinarian may prescribe further anti-anxiety medications or supplements that can be administered in food 90 minutes before the appointment.
#5: Returning home
If you have multiple cats, returning home can be stressful and create further negative associations with going to the vet. Allow the kitty who went to the vet some time alone to groom away the scent of the clinic. Reestablish their shared scent by rubbing each cat with a dry towel. Using Feliway in your home can also help your cats reestablish their shared scent faster and keep stress low while they are reacclimating.