5 Tips to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful for Your Cat

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Animal Planet

The waiting room of a veterinary office can be a very scary place for felines -- filled with barking dogs, hissing cats, and any number of anxious humans. It's normal for your pet to be nervous in this setting. After all, felines are typically solitary and highly predatory animals (mine is attacking my fingers as I type). This is why it's best to leave your cat in his carrier rather than take him into your arms in the waiting room. Not only will he feel safer, he'll be less likely to scratch you in an effort to break free or to get into a skirmish with another animal.

The type of carrier you use can also help reduce vet-related stress for your cat. It should be large enough so that he can stand, stretch, and make a full turn. According to Jessica Beymer, DVM, of the Contra Costa Veterinary Emergency Center in Concord, Calif., hard carriers are a good option since they have a top-loading feature that makes it easy to lift out a scared cat. Beymer also recommends covering the carrier with a towel or blanket - preferably one with the scent of home - in order to limit stimuli in the waiting room, which can be agitating for an anxious animal.

To help your cat relax at the vet, you might also try a pheromone spray, which contains a synthetic form of the scent that cats rub against each other and their loved ones to reinforce social bonds. According to Dr. Beymer, some cats are calmed by it, while others are not. However, at a cost of about $25 for a one-month supply, it's a cheap enough experiment if your cat is really having a problem.

Scheduling appointments during less the vet's least busy times can help minimize chaos and long waits.

But if you can't, remember that it helps your cat if you remain calm in the veterinary waiting room, despite delays. Your cat will take cues from you, and this becomes particularly important when you're ready to leave the waiting area and meet the vet.

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