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August 14, 2013

Tips on Taking Your Cat to the Vet

Four ways to improve your cat's vet trips

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. Regular preventive veterinary checkups are essential for the well-being of cats (or any pet), especially as they age and become more prone to weight loss, diabetes, and dental disease. Here are some tips to make health-care visits less taxing for everyone involved.

How to take the "terror" out of your cat's vet trips

1. Get your cat used to his 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 him rest inside the carrier and then leave when he wants to. Positive experiences with the carrier beforehand can help avert the notorious mad dash for a hiding spot whenever the carrier appears. Learn more about making the carrier a safe place for your cat with our cat answer tool and a brochure by the American Association of Feline Practitioners [PDF].

  • Over time, cats can learn that even if an exam isn't exactly fun, it doesn't have to be a source of terror. Ed Lallo

  • 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

  • Regular vet visits are essential for elderly cat companions. Nancy Peterson/The HSUS

2. Find a cat-friendly veterinarian

It's not always easy to choose a veterinarian. Thankfully, some vets focus exclusively on cats, and even set up their space so your kitty does not have to come nose-to-nose with a curious canine. 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 she is loved and safe—and will survive this important and necessary trip.

4. Make a list

Write down any questions or concerns that you may have about your cat's health or behavior, so you can make the most of your visit. Between vet visits, give your cat regular, simple exams to keep in touch with what's going on with his body. Don’t be afraid to ask "silly" questions—that's what your veterinarian is there for. This is an opportunity for you to learn what you need to know in order to keep your cat healthy and happy for many years.

Worried about the cost?

Preventive care and diagnosing a health problem early on can actually save you money. We've got resources designed to make it easier to afford those yearly (or twice-yearly) vet visits that are key to helping you and your cat enjoy a long, healthy life together.

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