Top tips to get Tiddles to the vet

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest post comes from Mike James:

Top tips to get Tiddles to the vet

A trip to the vet is an annual necessity for every cat and its owner but often this can be a stressful experience for both, even before you get anywhere near the surgery. How long will it take to get Tom into his carrier this time? Will he sense that that something is up and react by biting, scratching or leaving a dirty protest? Or will he escape through the cat flap and run for the hills, making you miss the appointment altogether?

While it’s easy to have a good laugh about it all afterwards, getting your not so purry pal to cooperate in the moment when it counts can be intensely frustrating, testing the patience of even St Gertrude, the patron saint of cats!

Source: unsplash

Why are regular vet visits important?

Any responsible cat owner will agree that regular check-ups are essential for keeping your pet healthy. In addition to assessing your cat’s body weight, behaviour, dental health and general condition, your vet can administer flea, tick and worm control medication – extremely handy if you’ve had past experience trying to give a cat a pill.

Crucially, annual cat vaccinations are important to protect your pet from serious and potentially fatal diseases including cat flu (feline herpes virus, calici virus), feline enteritis (feline parvovirus), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline chlamydophila (which causes conjunctivitis).

FeLV and FIV (the feline form of HIV) are two of the most serious and most infectious feline diseases in existence, and yet nearly 50% of cat owners don’t regularly vaccinate their cat, while a third never bother with feline vaccinations at all!

Why are cats afraid of the vet?

Of course, viewed from a feline perspective, it makes perfect sense to hate going to the vet. One moment you’re at home minding your own business as usual when suddenly they shove you in a little box, transport you in a motorised monster and take you who knows where. There are unfamiliar smells and sounds all around, sometimes even dogs nearby, and you can’t get away. It’s a scary experience.

Next comes the physical ordeal. A total stranger takes you out of the box and starts to prod and poke about everywhere and without your permission. You get pricked with a needle and disgusting tablets are forced down your throat. All the while, your human looks on compliantly.

Why would any cat ever consent to doing that again?

Source: unsplash

How to win the day

While visiting the vet can be a stressful enough experience in its own right, starting with a tussle over the cat carrier certainly won’t help. But once Tiddles has made the connection between the carrier and a trip in the car that ends at the vet clinic, he is unlikely to come willingly, quietly or indeed at all.

As we all know, cats are not clubbable, so this where our superior human brains are needed to tune into feline psychology in an effort to outwit our pets. Spoiler alert: time and patience are of the essence.

  • Check you have a cat carrier that’s of the appropriate size for your cat, and made out of a sturdy material. A cardboard box won’t do – it’s not secure enough to contain a determined feline, offers no protection in case of accidents, and will get wet and soggy if peed on. Choose a big enough plastic cat carrier with a secure but easy-to-use door.
  • Once you’ve booked an appointment with the vet, take the cat carrier out from storage and leave it out for at least 24 hours. Perhaps put a cat treat inside, or a favourite cat blanket so that the box has a familiar smell and is considered a ‘good place’. Cats are very sensitive to new objects in the house, so let Kitty discover it slowly. Better still, leave it out all the time so that the carrier is a familiar part of your cat’s surroundings.
  • On the day, give yourself plenty of time to get your pet into the carrier. Your cat is likely to sense if you get stressed, so make every possible effort to remain relaxed. The cat flap should now be firmly locked and the door of the room that you, Tiddles and the carrier are in should be closed, so he cannot escape.
  • Pick your cat up gently and put a fluffy towel around him, then gently lower him into the carrier. If your furry friend has developed a strong aversion to getting into his carrier, it may be tricky to coax him inside with soothing words and/or a cat treat. You can use a Feliway pheromone diffuser to reduce cat stress, then try again, or ask another person to hold the carrier upright while you place puss inside.
  • If your cat resists, don’t force him – put the carrier away for a little while, then try again later. You might like to wrap your pet in a soft blanket or towel before swiftly placing him in the carrier, before he has a chance to notice what is happening.
  • One way to help keep your cat relaxed is to cover the carrier with a towel or blanket. Leave the blanket on during transport and while you’re waiting at the vet’s. Cats like to hide when they’re scare or uncertain, and the darkness provided by the cover will make him safe and secure.

Author Bio:

Article provided by Mike James, a tech-obsessed, cat-loving content writer

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40 thoughts on “Top tips to get Tiddles to the vet

  1. Nora Hamilton says:

    I read a good tip here on Katzenworld saying put the carrier on the couch backed up against the back so the carrier won’t slide away, and kitty will go right in with no floor underneath. And it’s the best tip I ever tried. It worked perfectly.

  2. erinthecatprincess says:

    I have to say I liked the blanket technique. What I would really like to see is a nicer feline based environment at the vets. Most mix various animals and big dogs barking peeing, and squarking, and yes other cats yowling, is not a conducive one for any cat…
    Toodle pips

  3. Cherilyn says:

    I am a firm believer in tucking cat carriers around my apartment permanently. I have one cat, she used to belong to my mother until my mother passed away, who will regularly hang out in the carriers. When I had to go and get her and my mom’s other cat, she was the easiest of the two to catch because she took one look at me, and when running for her carrier. All I had to do was shut the door lol.

    Now the other three, I have found the easiest is to pick them up, tip the carrier so the back is on the floor, carefully angle them in straight down, then shut the door fast! Once in, very gently lower the carrier down until it’s sitting normally on the floor. Towels and blankets don’t work on mine because they see me approach with one, they run. I usually have to towel them to trim nails and clean ears both of which they all hate. Also, I have had some interesting close calls before and so I practice speed methods as much as possible. In emergencies, you may not have the time to worry about feelings or dignity.


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  5. The Homestead On The Plains says:

    The best trick I have is to keep the carriers around the house as hiding spots. The cats don’t freak out when they see a carrier and they don’t panic and run away. I also pick my cats up regularly to ensure they are always comfortable with being held. This makes grabbing them much easier for vet trips. I also keep a carrier in the basement for when the tornado sirens go off. The cats aren’t allowed in the basement so, the second I open the door, it’s like a magnet and they go running down the basement stairs, which means I don’t have to hunt them down when the sirens go off. It makes tornado season much less stressful for both them and myself. The carrier in the basement is their favorite place to go once they go downstairs. I trap them inside the carrier until the danger has passed. Then, I allow them to explore the basement until they come upstairs on their own. The door stays shut until those sirens go off.

  6. myownlittleallotment says:

    Unfortunately all these ideas start with picking up the cat. My cats don’t allow me to pick them up. At all. Even for a moment. One has been to the vet in a carrier that she entered willingly. The other is months overdue to see the vet. Meanwhile, I am feeding them in their carriers once a day and they will go inside now and even let my hand be inside at the same time. But I fear if I ever shut the door behind the scared cat , I will lose major ground. Does anyone have ideas about getting cats used to being picked up? They are about 18 months old and their first year lived in a shelter together.

    • Marc-André says:

      You could try and associate the being picked up with a reward like their favourite treat. It will probably still be difficult and take a while but this may be a step towards being able to pick them up.

  7. myownlittleallotment says:

    Thanks, I will try to think about how that could be done. The few times I’ve tried picking them up have been so traumatic, resulting in hours hiding under furniture for them, and bleeding scratches for me, that treats never entered my mind except as later efforts to get them out from under the bed. I tend to prefer our nice, loving moments together, and want them to be happy they live with me, so I haven’t been making a issue of it. But as months go by, I know Judy really needs her updated shots and it’s going to have to happen someday.

    • Marc-André says:

      I’d start of with little bits to get them into your and just stroke them there.

      On stage two move to getting them onto your lap before giving a treat and give it after.

      And after that move on to picking up and giving treats.

      If none of that works it might be worth seeing if there is a vet near you that would do home visits. My friend does that for her cat that can’t be picked up. 😮

  8. simon7banks says:

    All very true except dogs at the vet’s have never been a negative point for my cats. One of them absolutely loved them and I’d drive her protesting to the vet’s saying softly, “You’ll see doggies!”. The hated cat carrier suddenly becomes a secure space from which the cat can observe dogs and even be unworried if a dog comes up to sniff.

    • Marc-André says:

      It’s always interesting how different cats react to these situations. One of ours loves the neighbours dog who is petrified by mr Ren approaching him with Happy Meows, sniffing and head butting. ?

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