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Four Tips for Taking Your Cat to the Veterinarian

You can make trips to the vet easier and less frightening for your cat and yourself

  • Over time, cats can learn that a veterinary exam doesn't have to be frightening. Nancy Peterson/The HSUS

  • Trips to the vet will be easier if you help your cat become comfortable with their carrier. Mike McFarland/The HSUS

  • Your vet can teach you how to safely trim your cat's claws. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

  • Don't forget to praise your cat for a job well done. Fotolia

Cats are the most popular pet in the country, but many miss out on regular veterinary visits because the trip can be taxing for human and feline alike.

While keeping cats indoors can help them lead a long and healthy life, regular preventive veterinary checkups are essential for the well-being of cats (or any pet), especially as they age and become more prone to muscle loss, diabetes, arthritis, thyroid issues and dental disease.

Here are some tips to make health-care visits less taxing for everyone involved.


1. Get your cat used to their carrier

Well before the day of the vet visit, try leaving the carrier out with the door open and a tasty treat inside. Make sure the carrier is large enough for your cat to move around comfortably. Let them rest inside the carrier and then leave when they want to. Positive experiences with the carrier beforehand can help avert the notorious mad dash for a hiding spot whenever the carrier appears. Consider using a calming spray, such as Feliway®, in the carrier at least 30 minutes before your trip to the vet. Learn more about making the carrier a safe place for your cat from our cat answer tool and a brochure by the American Association of Feline Practitioners [PDF].

2. Find a cat-friendly veterinarian

It's not always easy to choose the right veterinarian. Thankfully, some vets focus exclusively on cats. Others help reduce the stress of visits by setting up their offices to keep cats and dogs apart. Check with the American Association of Feline Practitioners to find an accommodating vet.

3. Praise your cat for a job well done

Verbal praise, treats in the carrier and gentle stroking will help to reassure your cat that they are loved and safe—and will survive this important and necessary trip.

4. Arrive at the veterinarian's office prepared and informed

Before you leave for the vet, write down any questions or concerns that you may have about your cat's health or behavior so you are ready make the most of your visit.

Between vet visits, give your cat regular, at-home exams to keep in touch with what's going on with their body. Keep a list of any questions or concerns that come up during these exams so you can discuss them the next time you see the veterinarian.

Worried about the cost of cat care?

Did you know that preventive care and diagnosing a health problem early on can actually save you money? Also, take a look at the resources we've created to make it easier for you to afford those yearly (or twice-yearly) vet visits and other kinds of health care that are  key to helping you and your cat enjoy a long, healthy life together.

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