All cats will need at least one visit to their vets each year for a health check and vaccinations but some will require more frequent appointments- and most will also need at least one operation (for neutering) during their life. Although some cats take this in their stride, for most the journey to the vets is a stressful experience. Following a few easy tips will simplify your journey resulting in a calmer veterinary examination and a successful visit.
Modes of transport
Most cats are taken to the vets in the family car but if you do not have a car or require some help transporting your cat, ask your vet if they can recommend a local animal ambulance or pet taxi service. Buses or trains are generally not recommended as the presence of strangers and dogs on board are extremely stressful to cats.
In general, cats hate being transported. This is because they like familiarity and predictability, and cars are not a regular part of most cats’ daily life. Their dislike of cars is compounded by the fact that often, the only time they are put in a vehicle is for their dreaded veterinary visit. Whilst some cats may never enjoy being transported- acclimatising them by taking short trips in the car without an associated vet visit may teach them to relax during car journeys.
Making things easy
The most important part of ensuring a stress- free trip is to choose the optimal cat carrier. Never travel with your cat loose in the car! Cat carriers should be:
- • Sturdy- Cardboard is no match for a determined cat’s claws!
- • Easy to clean- plastic is best (or plastic- coated metal)
- • Small enough to avoid the cat being thrown around during the journey
- • Top opening- to allow the cat to be easily lifted in and out
- • Familiar to your cat- Keep your cat’s bed in it or feed her in the carrier so she gets used to it
If your cat panics at the sight of the cat carrier, keep it open but out of sight. Calmly wrap your cat in a familiar blanket and place her and the blanket quickly but gently into the carrier closing the lid briskly.Consider asking your vet for some calming cat pheromone to spray into the carrier before the journey.
To ensure a stress free journey:
- • Place some of your cat’s bedding in the bottom of the carrier to provide comfort and a reassuring smell.
- • Cover the carrier with a cloth to help keep your cat calm
- • Place a towel or absorbent padding under the carrier to soak up any “accidents”
- • Secure the carrier in the car’s footwell or on a seat with a seatbelt for safety
- • Drive carefully and gently
Take some spare bedding with you in case your cat soils the carrier to make the journey home more comfortable for her.
By nature, cats are independent, territorial, and sensitive to different smells which can make transporting them stressful for them and you. By following these few simple tips you can make the journey calmer and easier for both of you !