Though some cats enjoy a short car ride and don’t mind seeing the doctor, many cats and their owners dread the trip to the clinic. Certainly a screaming, drooling ball of fury doesn't make great passenger in your car, and add to that the stress of the doctor’s visit- it’s a great way to ruin your day. However, there are some things you can do to improve the situation and make visits tolerable, if not pleasant, for you and your cat.
The best carriers are small plastic carriers that fit on your car seat. Make sure you get one that the top comes off easily, as this makes it easier to put your cat inside. Also, we can often examine your cat in the carrier with the top off, which makes the cat feel safer and helps to reduce stress. If you have a carrier that doesn't allow the top to be removed it means we have to reach in the carrier to pull your cat out, which we don’t like, or we have to dump your cat out the door, which they don’t like. A good carrier isn’t expensive, and can be found at any pet store. One like this has easy to remove clasps, and is just the right size
Once you have the right carrier, open the door and place it in a room where your cat spends time. Put some bedding you have handled so it has your smell on it in the carrier. You can sprinkle some catnip on the bedding, and place her favorite toys inside. At first your cat will ignore it, but after a while it will explore and become comfortable with the carrier, and may spend time in it. Place treats in it to entice her into the carrier. Don’t force her into the carrier; it will make her afraid of it. The day of your cat’s visit, don't feed much for a few hours before. It will reduce any vomiting, and make her more likely to run into the carrier for a treat. When it is time to go to the clinic take off the top, place a treat in the carrier, gently put your cat in it, and then put the top back on. If she is still upset try a spray of Feliway, a calming pheromone that helps cats forget they should be upset. A couple of sprays on the bedding, and in a few minutes it will help calm her anxieties. http://www.feliway.com/us
In the car, some cats prefer to look out, and some prefer to be covered with a towel. Belt the carrier in so a sudden stop won’t send it flying. At the clinic we will put you right into an exam room, so you shouldn’t need to linger in the waiting room with those crazy dogs. If you need help bringing the carrier into the clinic just pull up by the door and honk- we’ll be right out.
We try to make your cat’s visits as quiet, brief and stress free as possible. Generally we simply remove the top of the carrier and the doctor can perform the exam while your cat relaxes in her favorite spot. We keep you and your cat together in the exam room as much as possible, and when you are done we can do your check-out in the room. Then, we look to be sure there are no pesky canines about, and you are ready to go directly to your car.
Once you are home, reward your kitty with another treat or favorite food, and congratulate yourself on an easier, less stressful trip to the clinic.