Cats are the most popular pet in the UK (with an estimated 10.9 million pet cats compared to 9.9 million dogs) but are less likely than dogs to attend a regular health check appointment. Often this may be because owners feel that it can be very stressful for their cat to attend the vets. While undeniably cats can find the vet clinic a worrying place to be, as a Silver Cat Friendly accredited practice, our staff can help support you in making your cat’s visit as low stress as possible.
To understand why cats may find visiting the vet clinic stressful, it’s important for us to understand their natural behaviour.
As you can imagine, being away from their own safe territory, in an environment that can be noisy and smells unfamiliar, can be stressful for cats. However, there are ways we can reduce this, and many of those way start at home, well before your visit.
Choose a good carrier
A safe and secure carrier is important to help your cat feel secure and safe during their visit. It should be easy to clean, big enough for them to turn around in, and should open from the top or be able to lift the top off. This is much less stressful for your cat when the time comes to get them out of the carrier at the clinic.
If the carrier is familiar to the cat, they will find it less stressful to travel in. Ideally, use the carrier at home, either for your cat to sleep in or eat in, so it does not only appear when there is a vet visit!
If this is not possible, place bedding from home, that will smell familiar in the carrier. You can also gently rub a cloth over your cat’s face to pick up scent, and then rub this around the inside of the carrier and leave it in there. If available, you can also spray Feliway inside the carrier (at least 30 minutes before).
Take spare familiar smelling bedding from home in case your cat soils the carrier on the journey.
Try to leave plenty of time to get your cat into the carrier. If you are stressed and in a hurry, they will often sense this and become more agitated. If they are panicky about getting into the carrier, try wrapping them in a blanket or towel and putting both in the carrier.
When you arrive at the clinic, take a seat in our dedicated cat-only waiting area. You can place the cat carrier on the seat beside you – this will be less stressful to your cat than being placed on the floor, as they find being higher up reassuring.
Feel free to pick up a blanket in the waiting area to cover your cat’s carrier.
If your cat should need to be hospitalised for any reason, they will stay in our cat ward, separate from any dog patients. You can help your cat feel more settled while they are with us by providing some bedding that smells familiar, and possibly some favourite toys. You may also wish to bring in some of their usual food, particularly if they are a fussy eater. The vets or nurses will tell you if we need them to eat a special diet while they are with us and their usual food may not be suitable.