Cat freak out at specter of vet visit? Here’s what to try

Q: Every time I take my cat Aggie in to see the vet she turns into a wild creature. Getting her into and out of the crate is a nightmare! Do you have any suggestions?

A: Much though we may try to make the process easier for them, cats react to the concept of a veterinary visit much as they might to a complete dousing with water. Which is to say, they’re terrified.

You know you should take her in at least annually to meet her preventative medical needs and you certainly don’t want her to be super-stressed should she be hospitalized for an accident or illness. What’s a responsible cat owner to do with a cat like Aggie?

As we approach this year’s National Take Your Cat To the Vet Day, it’s good to keep in mind that even the most fearful cat can have a better veterinary experience. And, as you’ve so astutely identified, it all centers around the carrier you use to transport her. To that end, here are some transportation tips:

▪ Get the right one. Dark, cloth-bound and collapsible. These are the features that define a good carrier. Dark = hiding, cloth-bound = comfortable, and collapsible = easy to medicate, should we need to bring the medications into her space to get things done.

▪ Don’t hide the carrier. One mistake owners make is leaving the carrier in the garage or closet except when it’s time to go to the vet’s, thereby ensuring a stressful interaction with a foreign object. Leave the carrier out all the time instead, even if it’s hidden under the bed; it’ll at least smell familiar.

▪ Cozy up the carrier. In most cases, that means you should line it with towels or diapers to lie on (or under). Catnip helps for some, too.

▪ To get the cat into the carrier, burrito the kitty with a towel or pocket her in a pillowcase before inserting the bundle into the box.

▪ Fancy a pheromone or other natural calming remedy? Most cats respond well to the use of Feliway, a relaxing pheromone you can spray inside the carrier.

▪ Find a vet hospital that understands cats. A Fear Free certified veterinarian is ideal (but not always handy).

▪ Calming drugs may be a last resort … but it sounds as if Aggie may need some. Extremely fractious kitties are terrified and they need not suffer. Not if it means they won’t get regular vet care.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is

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