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Article 5: Getting to the Vet on Time


Whether it is a trip to the veterinarian or the groomer this can be the most traumatic activity of your entire week. Not a week goes by that someone does not come into the clinic and share a high-drama story of trying to get kitty ready for the car ride to the vet. There is no doubt in my mind that the cat has an acute awareness of the clinic that may begin the moment you pull the cat carrier out of the closet or basement. If they always equate the carrier with a negative physical or mental experience they are going to illicit behaviors that will help them avoid such negative experiences. The “flight or fight” response will kick into high gear and we may get that frequent call from you of… “I can’t catch the cat for today’s appointment we will have to reschedule”.


Cats need their wellness visits to the vet just as much as dogs do. In many cases more so as they begin to become senior in age. Therefore, it is critical that we work together to make that visit a positive mental and physical experience for the cat. However, nationally cat visits to the vet are off dramatically simply due to the fact that the cat owner feels the pre-visit drama is not worth the examination and vaccination benefit.  Well, with some good preplanning we can turn almost every cat visit into at least a neutral physical and mental experience if not a positive one.


It begins with the mode of transport. If you are using a cat carrier don’t just take it out on visit day. Allow the carrier to become part of the cats normal or semi-normal routine. If the cat has not been allowed to “scent” the carrier prior to being forced into it there will be resistance to it. If you can put the carrier somewhere in your home out-of-sight but not out of the cat’s roaming area the carrier will become part of the environment for the cat. Place a blanket or towel that your cat is fond of or has already “scented” in the carrier. You want your cat to think of the carrier as a five-star moving hotel so go overboard in how fancy you make it. Let your kids decorate the outside with stickers or fabric from kitty’s worn out favorite blanket. You can take the fear away by making it look inviting and safe.


  • Make sure the door to the carrier always remains open for easy access.


Turn the carrier into your cat’s treat center. If your cat has a favorite treat that you give each day try giving it either when the cat goes in the carrier, or by placing it in the carrier. Pretty soon your cat will remember that if I go in the carrier I get a treat. This will take several days to accomplish so don’t give up after day one or day two. Cats can be resistant to change

behaviors and habits so be patient. After you get kitty comfortable going into the carrier with the door open begin to get kitty comfortable with the door closed and secure. Work up to the length of time it will take to load the carrier and drive to the clinic. If they are comfortable and stress-free for that length of time then victory is within your grasp.


The final step in the process is getting use to being in the carrier with movement. It is time to take kitty for a ride to nowhere. Maybe it is to the post office to mail a letter you would have otherwise mailed from home. Maybe it is dropping the kids off at soccer practice. Anywhere but the clinic or groomer. Avoid places that have unusual or unpleasant aromas like the gas station or fast food drive-thru. You cannot be sure how their very sensitive smell receptors will react so better to avoid them altogether. Again, you may not actually drive away on your first attempt at a car ride. It may take several trial efforts. Don’t get discouraged if your cat tells you that he/she is not ready. Stay with it and you will win in the end, and your cat will win in the long run with a healthy annual outlook.

One of our representatives will be happy to contact you via e-mail within 24 hours, or for urgent needs please call us at: (913) 888-3939