Your cat’s visit to the veterinarian:
The first step of getting your cat to its veterinary exam is getting them out of the house, which can sometimes be the most challenging. Cats are very sensitive to change, both in their environment and the more subtle changes of our own stress levels.
It’s best to get your cat accustomed to being inside a carrier to alleviate the stress of being in one for veterinary visits, and your stress of putting the cat in them. By leaving the carrier out in a familiar place at home and lining it with soft bedding they can inspect it and become used to it. Treats and toys placed inside can also entice them to enter the carrier. The carrier should be associated with positive experiences, not scary ones. If you see your cat sitting in or near the carrier, offer treats or play time depending on what they enjoy.
When your cat is still unwilling to go into the carrier, placing it in a small room with limited hiding places and calmly placing your cat inside it can help reduce stress. Don’t chase your cat into the carrier. Carrier’s that open from the top are preferable so that it is less traumatic then being shoved inside. That way you can cradle your cat in your arms, often in a blanket, and gently place them inside. Most carrier’s will come apart to allow the cat to be set into the bottom and then put back together around them. You can also consider using feline pheromone sprays, such as Feliway, to help calm your cat during these stressful experiences.
Your cat may return home with a small bandage wrapped around their legs. This can generally be removed about half an hour after you return home as it is used as a pressure wrap for where blood was drawn.
If you have a multi-cat household a returning cat can have new smells on them that can create an aggressive response by the other cats. To help ease the returning cat back to their home environment sometimes it can be best to separate them to another room for a day or two. This way the cat can regain its home smells again and be accepted by the others more readily. Again, Feliway spray can help ease the tension for some cats as an additional reintroduction aid.
If possible, it can be beneficial to bring all household cats to the vet during your visit so that they will all smell the same to each other.
For both heading to the vet and coming home, always keep a calm, positive attitude. Doing so will show your cat that going to the vet isn’t the scary experience it’s thought to be. If we act stressed and worried, our pets will be stressed and worried as well.
Here are some helpful videos from the Catalyst Council!
Here are some more helpful videos from the American Association of Feline Practitioners