Tips to Make Your Cat’s Vet Experience Less Stressful

Does your cat experience anxiety or stress every time you enter the veterinary clinic? This can make simple procedures such as physical exams, vaccinations or nail trims very difficult to complete and often the pet will associate the clinic with their stressful experience.

Here are some simple tips that you can try to make your cat’s next vet appointment less stressful for both of you!

Before Your Visit

The Carrier

The best way to allow your cat to acclimate to the environment of their carrier is by leaving it somewhere accessible to them 24/7 and rewarding the cat for entering/sniffing/exploring it. You can entice them to investigate by familiar bedding, treats, catnip or toys in the carrier.

The worst thing that you can do is strictly introduce your cat to the carrier right before leaving for your vet appointment or force him/her in the carrier, as it may be a stressful and unfamiliar place for them and increase their anxiety during the car ride and/or their vet visit. If they have a negative experience with their carrier, they may associate these anxious and stressful feelings with the car and/or the vet clinic.

You can also help ease any anxiety by putting a familiar item such as a blanket or toy to comfort them in the carrier prior to leaving home (i.e. vet or groomer appointment).

Other Tips

Grooming has been thought to have a calming effect; regularly grooming your cat can help reduce their stress in the environment and allows for opportunity for owners to bond with their pets. Brushing your cat prior to leaving for your vet appointment can help calm any nervous feelings.

Feliway© is a synthetic feline pheromone that can be purchased at your veterinary clinic and may help promote relaxation in stressful situations, such as travel. Often, this is a product that is used in-clinic in waiting rooms and/or designated feline exam rooms. Read more about Feliway© here:

During Your Visit

If you have a nervous cat, it is recommended to arrive as close to your appointment time as possible to minimize stress and avoid any strange smells, noises or interacting with unfamiliar animals in the waiting room. You can also cover the carrier with a familiar blanket from home to prevent them from seeing unfamiliar sights that may stress them out.

If there are shelves, perches or chairs available in the clinic waiting room (ideally 48 inches from the ground), placing your cat’s carrier here can be less stressful for them and make him/her feel more secure than being at floor level where they may be confronted by an unfamiliar animal.