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How to Calm Your Cat Before and At the Vet (8 Proven Methods)

Nicole Cosgrove

Cats prefer to be left to their own devices in an area where they feel comfortable. Disrupting their sense of peace can be difficult for both you and your cat. One of the most stressful situations your cat may experience is a trip to the vet.

If your cat isn’t accustomed to road trips and leaving the house, just the sight of their cat carrier can send them over the edge. They may run, hide, or even attempt to fight to avoid these annual road trips. Unfortunately, for cat owners, if their escape route is cut off, you often end up being the one on the receiving end of their punishment. Scratches and bites are hard on you but think about the stress and emotional hardships these scenarios put your cat through.

When you finally make it to the veterinarian’s office, your cat may still be on edge. Attempting to escape their carrier, lash out at the staff, or run away is a common reaction from cats of all ages and sizes. Luckily, there are ways you can calm your cat before and at the vet. Let’s take a look at eight proven methods that make taking your cat to the vet easier for all those involved, especially your kitty.

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The 8 Steps to Calm Your Cat Before and At the Vet

1. Introduce Your Cat to Their Carrier

This may not sound like a way to calm your cat for vet visits, but it does work. If your cat reacts with fear or aggression when seeing their pet carrier, working on getting them accustomed to the carrier may be the answer you’ve been looking for. The best way to do this is to leave the pet carrier out at all times instead of tucked away until it’s needed. If the carrier is an everyday object your cat encounters, it’s less likely to react negatively when it’s time to use it.

cat with pee pads in carrier
Image Credit: shamek, Shutterstock

2. Take Car Rides More Often

While it may sound difficult, taking your cat on car rides will help prepare them for days when they have appointments. The trick to this is to get them accustomed to riding when they are young. If you take your kitten out often, they won’t be as scared when they make the trip to the vet.


3. Make It a Game

If your cat is playful, turning a trip to the vet into a game could be a great strategy. Playing peek-a-boo with the carrier is the perfect way to start this. Drape a towel or a blanket over the carrier. Let your cat see your face a few times before it tries to settle down. With a cat’s love for dark caves and hideaways, the pet carrier and their ride to the vet may become an adventure for them.

two black cats in a carrier
Image Credit: EverGrump, Shutterstock

4. Put Their Favorite Bedding in the Carrier

If your cat has a favorite blanket or cat bed, use it to your advantage. Placing these items in the pet carrier may make your cat go inside without a fuss. It is also a great trick for keeping your cat calm while at the vet’s office. If they feel like they’re at home, the less stress they’ll experience and the fewer scratches you’ll receive.


5. Use a Vet Your Cat is Comfortable With

If your cat doesn’t like its vet, most likely, every visit will be difficult. Luckily, there are cat-friendly veterinarians available. These vets try to make the situation easier and less stressful on your feline friend. Often, designated cat areas are a part of their practice. This lets your cat wait their turn without worries of dogs frightening them with their loud barks.

cat and vet
Image Credit: Stock-Asso, Shutterstock

6. Use Their Favorite Treats

While cats are not easily fooled, if they have a favorite treat, you may be able to coax them into calming down. You can use treats on the way to the office or while you wait to see the veterinarian. Before trying this method, however, clear it with your vet. If they need to see your cat on an empty stomach you must follow their guidelines.


7. Reassure Them With Your Love

Cats may be solitary creatures but even they need love and affection. This is especially true when they are scared. During the ride to the vet, talk softly to your cat. Your voice may be just the thing your pet needs to find some relief in the situation. Once you’re at the vet, you can increase the loving attention by softly petting your cat during the visit if you aren’t interfering with the vet’s examination.

Holding Cat
Image Credit: Ann Kosolapova, Shutterstock

8. Calming Sprays

Another way to help your cat prepare for a stressful situation is cat calming sprays. These sprays use pheromones to help calm your cat and give them a sense of peace. Each of these sprays works differently. Make sure to read the information that comes with your spray to learn how long it takes the spray to take effect and how long it will last afterward.

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In Conclusion

While a trip to the vet can be difficult for both pets and owners alike, knowing how to get your cat prepared for the journey can make all the difference in the world. If you have a cat that stresses out in the car and at the veterinarian, these 8 tips should make life easier for you, your cat, and the veterinarian involved.


Featured Image Credit: 4 PM production, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.