Preparing Your Cat for the Veterinary Office

Preparing Your Cat for the Veterinary Office

Why train a cat to go to the veterinary office?

Vaccinations, examinations, and medical attention are all important services that your cat will occasionally need throughout its life. If he is suffering from an illness, a visit to the vet is even more crucial. However, cats will be exposed to many different types of stimuli when they visit the veterinary office, sometimes making the trip more difficult. Different people, other cats, and anxious animals will all be present at the office, and the unfamiliar scents and sounds often frighten cats. Even your veterinarian, who will handle and work with your cat, is considered a stranger, and such stressful events can be traumatizing if the proper precautions aren't taken. Without proper preparation, your cat may run, hide or even resort to aggressive behavior when they realize that they are being taken to the vet. Here's what you can do to make the trip to the vet easy for you and your cat.


Transportation. Pet carriers are the best way to transport your cat to the veterinary office, and many practices will even instruct you to prepare one beforehand. This is because a carrier will help your cat feel safe, while also providing protection from external dangers. It will also prevent your cat from escaping when frightened. Carriers are also beneficial in that they can be used for all kinds of travel, such as road trips or flights. 



During the car ride to the veterinary office, minimize overstimulating your cat. Loud noises, unfamiliar smells, and wreckless driving should be avoided. The journey starts from the moment you leave your house to the first step into the veterinarian's lobby, and it is important to help your cat feel more at ease during his visit by eliminating unnecessary stressors. 


Learn More about training your cat to use a carrier on our blog post.


Veterinarian. While most veterinarians are great candidates for taking care of your cat, it is important to choose one that  best fits the needs of both you and your cat. Choosing a veterinarian that is comfortable with feline patients, and who knows how to make your cat's first visit a comfortable one, is important in building a long-lasting relationship. The first few visits to their office will establish either a positive or negative foundation. Your analysis of a hospital begins the moment you make your first telephone call to schedule your appointment; use these interactions to assess your compatibility with them. Likewise, you will also be communicating with your veterinarian on a regular basis, so it is crucial that you feel at ease when speaking with them. 


The exam. During your cat's first appointment, speak to them softly to help them feel comfortable in the exam room. Initially, your cat may hesitate to come out of its carrier, and it may take patience while you wait for him to present himself. Use treats and soft praise to urge them out. Reward them for good behavior while your veterinarian performs their general examination. This first interaction is crucial, as both your cat and veterinarian are getting to know each other. Continue to use treats for positive reinforcement; this will help him associate the veterinary office with rewards. Abstain from rewarding him if he begins to show signs of aggression.



If your cat begins to show signs of bad behavior, such as hissing or clawing, it is important to stop the behavior early. Use a firm voice to communicate with your cat; using key words that he is familiar with, such as "no" or "stop", can help steer his behavior into a different direction. Alternatively, even just waiting and sitting with your cat, allowing his negative feelings to pass, can help relax him. Soft petting and comforting can go a long way for both you and your cat at the veterinary office.


On rare occasions, your vet may determine that it is unsafe to continue their exam if your cat persists with aggressive behavior, as stress can be detrimental to everyone involved. In these instances, you may need to reschedule your appointment, and your vet may prescribe medications that will help keep your cat calm during office exams. There are also pheromone products that have been known to help with stress and anxiety in cats, such as FeliwayConsult your veterinarian for the best alternatives to help your cat mediate its anxiety.


Scheduling regular office visits to the vet can help your cat stay familiar with their doctor and their hospital. Additionally, your vet can keep up to date on vaccinations and wellness exams to make sure your cat is healthy, and to intervene when he is in need of medical attention. We recommend scheduling your cat for a veterinary exam every 6 months. With the right mindset and preparations, visits to the vet can be easy, and even fun, for both you and your cat.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.