Reducing Cat Stress during Veterinary Visits

Cat having an exam at the veterinarian hospital

Anyone who has ever had a cat knows that you can’t force cats to do something they don’t want to do. So how do you convince your cat to like the veterinarian? If you’ve been around cats, you know they are more selective with their affection than dogs.

Who they choose to like, and when they choose to be affectionate, is 100% under a cat’s fickle control. While there is no love potion to bring out a cat’s affection, there are a few things you can do to improve the odds that your feline friend will at least tolerate the vet—even show affection if you and the veterinarian are very lucky.

Cat at veterinary hospitalChoose a cat friendly veterinarian
It may seem obvious, but pick a veterinarian that likes cats and is good with cats. This doesn’t mean it has to be a cat-only practice, but it does mean you want to pick a veterinarian that caters to cats. Some practices have separate lobbies for their dog and cat patients since many cats become anxious when surrounded by a lobby full of dogs. Even if the clinic doesn’t have a separate waiting area, some veterinarians will promptly place your cat in a quiet room if he appears anxious. Call ahead of time to find out what your vet does to accommodate nervous cats.

Stress is contagious and can spread to your cat
Another thing you can do to help your cat like your veterinarian is to curb your own anxiety. Many cat parents don’t realize this, but when they become nervous, their cats can sense it and become more anxious themselves. Remaining calm and speaking in a soothing voice can not only help relax your cat, but also help you stay in control of your emotions. So remember, while stress is contagious, peace and calm are too.

Veterinarian giving cat a treatBribing your cat
When it comes to public officials, bribery is frowned upon, but when it comes to your cat, there is nothing wrong with using a little bribery to entice him. The old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar also applies to cats. Whenever you take your cat to the vet, make sure you reward him with his favorite treat to associate seeing the veterinarian with a positive experience. You can also ask your veterinarian to give your cat a treat; though many cats won’t eat, even their favorite treat, if they are stressed out. If that’s the case, try again when you get home.

See the veterinarian early and often
Old habits are hard to break. So why not develop good habits early? Take your kitten to the veterinarian while he’s still young and impressionable, and follow the tips above to make it a positive experience. Just like cats raised in a household with dogs, if they grow-up around something that might otherwise be scary, they won’t be afraid of it. Let your cat see the veterinarian early in life so when he grows-up, he might actually like the veterinarian (or at the very least tolerate her).

How about reducing cat stress during car rides>>

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on: 
Wednesday, October 7, 2015