The following article is written by and provided courtesy of:
Dr. Daniel Mudrick; B.Sc, D.V.M, Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, 1659 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga, ON, L5J 1J4
Transporting Your Nervous Cat to the Vet
As tough as cats can be, a simple car ride to the vet can be very stressful for them. Cats often become nervous or anxious with travel, and then behave in a passive or sometimes aggressive way.
Our goal is to prevent problems for you and your pet. Our simple recommendations will make travel and vet visits much easier for your cat.
Cat Calming Recommendations
Leave your cat carrier out for at least a few days prior to travelling.
Leave the carrier in an easily accessible area of the house where your cat will see it. You should leave the door of the carrier open so your cat may go in and out as she/he pleases. You can place food or treats in the carrier to help build a positive association with it.
Use Feliway 15 minutes prior to putting your cat in the carrier.
15 minutes before you will put your cat in the carrier, you should wipe down the inside with Feliway wipes or Feliway spray. Feliway is a pheromone treatment that helps elicit a calming response in cats.
Learn more at www.feliway.com.
Don’t put your cat in the front seat of the car.
It’s best not to put your cat carrier in the front seat of the car as it can be dangerous if the passenger airbag is deployed. You can secure the carrier in the back seat using one of the rear passenger seatbelts. Try to keep the carrier level, instead of sloping back.
Calming Supplements and Medications
Some cats will be anxious despite the above measures. If that’s the case, we may recommend the use of a calming supplement or medication to ease your cat through the trip and vet visit.
If we have discussed with you the use of Zylkene (a calming milk protein based supplement) or Gabapentin (a gentle calming medication) to help your cat cope with the anxiety of going for a car ride, please read the following recommendations:
Hunger is your friend!
It is ideal if your cat is hungry before travel time. Feed your cat a small dinner and breakfast the night and morning before your visit. One hour before you are going to put your cat in the carrier, feed a small amount of her/his favorite food with the medication mixed in. Once you get back home, you can feed the remainder of the meal.
If your cat is not willing to eat, you should reschedule for another day.
If you need, please come in to the clinic and pick up an appetite stimulate that you can use to help ensure your cat will eat (and therefore eat the medication) at the appropriate time prior to your next appointment. The appetite stimulant is in the form of a paste that you can apply to the inside of your cat’s ear – no pilling required!
We use Feliway pheromone diffusers at the hospital and we handle cats very gently to minimize nervous behaviour.
Each cat is an individual and we want to make your cat’s car rides, and life, as comfortable as can be. Cats don’t understand what is happening; they are just afraid, and we want to help alleviate those fears.
Our goal is “Stress-Free Visits”.
For more information, visit CATalyst Council’s Cat Friendly Practice to watch a thorough video on this subject.
Please call us if you have any questions at all about helping to take the stress away from your cat.
2 thoughts on “Transporting Your Nervous Cat to the Veterinarian”
I’m so glad my cat’s not anxious going to the vet’s. It’s probably because we often used to take him on short car ride trips/visits to my mum’s. I think he definitely got used to the fact that a car is not threatening thanks to those treats he got during his visits! 🙂
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You did the right thing. My cat never minded riding in the car. If everyone took their cats for a short ride at least twice a week, it would make life easier for the cats.
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