How to Get Your Cat to the Vet:

  • Get your cat used to the carrier by leaving it in the same room where the cat spends most of its time
  • Put bedding or clothing in the carrier and something that has a familiar scent
  • Use treats to help entice them to get into the carrier
  • Put the crate in a room where there is no other hiding place
  • Keep calm yourself as cats can pick up on your anxiety
  • Use pheromone sprays to help create a calm environment for your cat
  • Use a carrier that opens from the side and from the top
  • Consider going to a Cat Friendly Practice

Tips to Help You Get Your Cat to the Vet

There are many ways that you can help your cat have a more peaceful visit at the vet. These include choosing a Cat Friendly Practice, which implement various cat-friendly techniques; using pheromone sprays; and carrier training your cat with food-based reinforcement. Hard carriers are best. You can get more tips at www.catvets.com.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes or read the transcription below:

Tips to Help You Get Your Cat to the Vet

Summary: There are many ways that you can help your cat have a more peaceful visit at the vet. These include choosing a Cat Friendly Practice, which implement various cat-friendly techniques; using pheromone sprays; and carrier training (with food-based reinforcement) your cat as soon as possible. Hard carriers are best. You can get more tips at www.catvets.com.

Steve: “Tips to help you get your cat to the vet, with an “Eye on Pets,” I’m Steve Grzanich with veterinarian Dr. Julia Georgesen.”

Dr. Georgesen: “There’s been a big push to develop Cat Friendly Practices where cat owners and cats feel welcome. It’s something that our clinic has done where we’ve tried to make a cat-friendly area in the waiting room where it’s more quiet, and do things in the exam room such as use towels, low-stress handling techniques…There’s a cat pheromone spray that we have used which really helps calm cats down on the table…and educate our staff on how to handle cats in the most stress-free way possible.”

Steve: “And then from the patient’s point of view, there are steps that a cat owner can take when they bring their pet to the vet.”

Dr. Georgesen: “There are definitely various tips that we can give to help you get your cat to the vet. That’s a huge source of anxiety, and I understand that people get very anxious about getting their cat in the carrier and getting their cat to the vet.”

Steve: “What are the steps that people can take to bring their cat comfortably to the vet?”

Dr. Georgesen: “I think when you first bring your cat home, a great thing to do is to have them get used to the carrier. Things that you can do is to have that carrier in the same room where your cat spends a lot of time so they can get used to the idea of the carrier being there.”

Steve: “Cats fight really badly getting into these things, don’t they?”

Dr. Georgesen: “Yes, if they’re not familiar with it, so the main thing is to familiarize them and make them comfortable with the crate.”

Steve: “Can cats learn from positive reinforcement and treat-based, reward-based behavior?”

Dr. Georgesen: “They don’t learn well from punishment either, and it may be food- or treat-based, or it may be play or giving them affection, but the main thing is to be consistent and patient with your cat as you’re trying to get them familiar with the carrier. Put some bedding or some clothing with your scent or familiar scents in the carrier, and if you want to encourage your cat to get in the carrier, you could use some treats or toys or catnip to help entice them to have them get into the carrier.”

Steve: “You mentioned putting this carrier in a place where the cat can be familiar with it, but also maybe in a place where there aren’t other hiding places to go.”

Dr. Georgesen: “Right, especially when you’re trying to get them to the vet that day…to have the carrier in a smaller room and then to enclose your cat into that room and just be calm. Cats will pick up on anxiety or your fear or stress level, so just be calm to help get them in the carrier. I think something else that we’ve found that works really well for us at the practice…there are some facial pheromones sprays. The most common one is called Feliway®, but that facial pheromone spray actually really helps calm down cats. It’s something that you can spray, and they even make it as a diffuser that you can plug into the wall, and it helps calm cats. It’s a synthetic facial pheromone, and that’s what cats are doing whenever they’re happy. They’re rubbing their face against door frames and on sofas. It releases this pheromone, and that’s the same thing that the spray does.”

Steve: “What is the end result of not doing the regular vet visits? Once there’s a disease, and they come to see you, it’s going to be a costly alternative.”

Dr. Georgesen: “It depends on how advanced the diseases is. Regular physical exams really would save time and effort on the other hand. And I think you’ll enjoy the sense of well-being, knowing that you’re doing the right thing for your cat to keep them healthy.”

Steve: “Is there a place where we can go and learn more about this?”

Dr. Georgesen: “There is a great website. catvets.com has a lot of good information.”

Steve: “We mentioned the carriers earlier. Do you have some that you can recommend to us?”

Dr. Georgesen: “The best type are the plastic type that have a front gate and one from the top so you can cradle your cat and gently put them in, if they’re not willing to go in. Also it helps when you can take them apart. That way you can unscrew the top of the crate to be able to get them out easier, and with some cats that are so fearful or anxious, we’ll actually just remove the top and have them in that basin. If it’s a good carrier we’re actually able to do the exam while they are in their carrier, and it really comforts them at lot.”

Steve: “You must see lots of cases where that cat is just not coming out of the carrier, right?”

Dr. Georgesen: “Yes, and whenever you’re dumping them out on the table or pulling them from the carrier, you could hurt them inadvertently. It adds stress, so it’s a lot easier if you can get a top one that you can take apart in the room. I have some owners that will put a blanket or towel over the carrier whenever they’re coming to the vet, and that will help. A lot of places are developing some quiet areas where the cat can go before their exam just to make life a little bit easier for your cat and for YOUR stress level.”

Steve: “With an “Eye on Pets,” I’m Steve Grzanich with Dr. Julia Georgesen. Remember, you can find past segments online at cbschicago.com/audio, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at “Eye on Pets.” On News radio 780 at 105.9 FM.”