Getting Your Cat To The Vet

Tips for Getting Your Cat To and From the Veterinary or Animal Hospital.

Providing good health care, especially preventive health care, can allow your cats to have longer, more comfortable lives. This cannot happen unless they see their veterinarian for the care they need.  Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian, and that starts with the difficulty of getting the cat into the carrier.  Usually if this step is easier, the rest of the visit is less stressful.

We know that it is often hard to get our cats ready for veterinary visits.   From fishing your cat out from under the bed, to getting kitty into the carrier, then listening to the yowling and protesting all the way to the veterinary practice is not a great way to start the process.

Things you can do:

Research different types of carriers!


  1. Leave the carrier out, especially around the planned time of your visit to the veterinarian, so your cat gets used to, and has a positive association with the carrier.
  2. Use positive reinforcement, such as treats and catnip toys, inside the carrier to encourage your kitty to explore and play in the carrier.
  3. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.  It is available as a spray and a diffuser.   Spraying the carrier and your car can make the trip to your veterinarian easier.
  4. The Cat Care-ier Cover was developed by a veterinarian at Ohio State University to help get your kitty travel more easily.  The idea is to prevent your cat from being terrified being in a carrier, swung by a handle at the level of your knee, banged around and visually exposed to all kinds of things (think forehead-cam).  The Cat Care-ier Cover is basically a large cloth shopping bag that the carrier fits in.  The crate in the bag is to be carried in your arms or over your shoulder (versus swinging from the handle which would be very scary for your cat!)  When not in use it can be folded and stored under the carrier.
  5. Some cats vomit, urinate and/or defecate in the carrier.  Most times these behaviors are the result of stress.  The above measures designed to alleviate stress can be very helpful in preventing the soiled cat and carrier.  Another idea that can help is  called counterconditioning (multiple short trips over time with positive reinforcement not involving going to the veterinarian) which can help to desensitize your kitty to car travel.
  6. Medications available through your veterinarian are sometimes needed if the above measures aren’t as successful as you had hoped.
  7. Once home, put your kitty in a time-out territory (for example a bedroom or bathroom) by him or herself in order to acclimate back to the house and relax a bit before being back with all of the other four (and two!) legged family members.



Helpful links:


Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian

The AAFP’s client brochure can help you reduce the stress of the veterinary visit for you and your cat.

Catalyst Council

Here you can find a video on getting your cat used to the cat carrier.

Ohio State’s Indoor Pet Initiative is a site with many great ideas to help prevent stress in your cat.