Cat in carrier

Help! How Do I Get My Cat to the Vet?

A routine wellness exam plays a critical role in maintaining and supporting overall health. Cats should be seen at least once a year, and senior cats benefit from two annual visits. However, a majority of pet cats don’t receive the same level of veterinary attention that dogs do. 

Reasons for infrequent visits vary. In the absence of glaring ongoing symptoms, cat owners may not feel a physical exam is warranted. Other times, getting a cat to the vet can be an exercise in sheer frustration and fear. With our travel tips, we hope to see your cat more often.

At the Core

Cats can be perceived as low-maintenance pets, but that doesn’t mean they require less care. Without a doubt, cats benefit from disease prevention, age-appropriate nutritional guidelines, dental care, and more. Through routine wellness exams, your cat can have a chance to live the longest, healthiest life possible. 

Demystifying Cat Behavior

Cats are creatures of habit. They prefer the familiar to the surprising every day of the week. For many cats, their travel crate or kennel is likely associated with their spay/neuter surgery, veterinary visits among foreign animals and people, and moving along roads in a car. All of this is to say that cats find traveling highly distressing, and may react in kind the next time you try to transport them to the vet.

For Your Own Good

Once you conquer how to get your cat intp their carrier on their own free will, future visits to the vet will be less stressful.

Install their carrier as a permanent object in their day to day environment. Place it in a sunny spot away from foot traffic and noise. You may find that a surface off the floor is preferred by your cat. The more opportunities your cat has to see and smell it, the better. Encourage them to become familiar with the crate by:

  • Removing the top and both doors, if possible
  • Place comfortable bedding and blankets on the bottom
  • Encourage them by placing toys, catnip, and treats on the cushy bedding
  • Feliway, a synthetic feline pheromone, can be sprayed on and around the carrier
  • Give them praise and strokes when they begin to lay down on top of the bedding
  • Over time, add the top half and the doors (be sure not to close them just yet!)
  • Once they begin to enter the crate regularly to groom themselves or sleep, you can close the doors and take them on a few trial runs in the car.
  • Soothe your cat’s worries with reassurances, strokes, and a calm demeanor.
  • Once home, reward your cat for traveling like a feline boss!

Long Term Goals

Crate training is an essential part of getting your cat to the vet. When you prepare for this, regular wellness visits are a breeze. However, when you need to transport your cat during a sudden illness or injury it’s made even easier. In other words, when your cat knows and trusts their travel carrier they have less fear and anxiety.

Getting Your Cat to the Vet – and Back

Cats are super sensitive to scent. When you return home from the vet the carrier will likely smell like the hospital, and possibly even other people or animals.

Take it slow and calm. Allow your cat to acclimate to their home environment, and soothe the nerves of littermates or other fellow pets. 

If our team can assist you with additional questions regarding transporting your cat to the vet, Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is always here for you.