How to Get Your Cat to the Vet
March 7, 2016
Adapted from Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats
by Dr. Sophia Yin
Many cats won’t voluntarily go into their carrier because they associate it with a trip to the vet, which can sometimes be unpleasant. Training your cat to like the carrier can be done in a few easy steps, but requires some patience. If we can accomplish this goal, then your pet will likely have a more pleasant vet visit because she will arrive at the hospital in a happier state.
- The first step is choosing the right carrier. The selection of a hard plastic carrier with a removable top is best because it allows us to keep your cat in the cozy bottom half of the carrier during the exam, which she will find more comfortable.
- Wipe or spray the inside of the carrier with Feliway. Feliway contains the pheromone that cats give off from their face when they rub and mark objects. This tells them the the carrier is okay, since it’s been marked. You can pick up FREE sample size packets at our hospital prior to your visit.
- Make the carrier a welcome spot by placing a soft towel or blanket inside.
- Feed your cat her daily meals near her carrier. If she won’t get close to the carrier, then start with feeding her in the same room as the carrier and gradually move the bowl closer.
- Once she is eating comfortably in the presence of the carrier, you can begin placing her food dish inside the carrier, so she has to put her head inside in order to eat.
- Gradually move the food dish farther inside until the cat easily goes all the way in to eat her meal. **For most cats, this process can usually be accomplished in a few days**
- Hide tasty treats or toys in the carrier for your cat to find throughout the day. The goal is to have your cat explore the carrier at non-scheduled feeding times.
- You’ll know your cat loves her carrier once she voluntarily goes in and lays down. Once this happens, you can close the door during a meal and keep her in the carrier for short periods of time. Gradually work up to this point.
Now your cat is ready to go to the vet!