Dr Andrew Sparkes on Taking Your Cat to The Vet

Dr Andrew Sparkes on taking your cat to the vet

Taking your cat or kitten to the vet can be challenging for a number of different reasons, but mostly because they will be away from the environment where they feel safe, they will be encountering unfamiliar people, and will be encountering unfamiliar smells from other animals.

For many owners, transporting the cat to the veterinary clinic can be the most challenging part along with getting the cat into the carrier in the first place. Here are some tips to make the process as easy as possible:

  • See our information on choosing and using a cat carrier here. To make the process as easy as possible and reduce the stress for your cat it is really important to choose a good carrier and to have it out in the home with your cat using it daily.
  • If the carrier is out in the home and used all the time, you may be able to simply encourage the cat to get in the carrier by putting a few treats in it and letting the cat get in itself.
  • Make sure there is bedding in the carrier that your cat has been using so they recognise the smell.
  • If your cat will not get in the carrier voluntarily, stay calm and simply pick the cat up and gently place it in the carrier through the opening at the top.
  • In addition to making sure the carrier is used daily by the cat in the home environment (for example to sleep in and/or to eat in), it is helpful to use the carrier to transport the cat on a regular basis. These should be short trips (using a car if that is how you would normally get to the vet), but taking the cat straight back home. By doing this on a regular basis the cat will get used to using the carrier out of the home and will not always associate it with a trip to the vet.
  • When holding the cat in the carrier, remember to support the carrier well and avoid swinging it or bumping into objects. Keeping the carrier level and steady will help increase the sense of security of the cat.
  • If the carrier is used in a car, make sure it is secured well and cannot move around. Securing the carrier in the footwell may be the best option, but it can also be secured on a seat using a seatbelt so long as it will not move.
  • A blanket placed over the carrier (leaving the front visible so you can see in and the cat can see out) may also help increase the sense of security.
  • Drive gently and not too fast! Avoiding sudden turns or braking will help to minimise stress for the cat.
  • Talk to your cat calmly and give reassurance – your cat knows and will recognise your voice.
  • If you are going to your veterinary clinic, when you arrive it is usually best to leave the cat in the carrier in the car. Go into the clinic and let them know you are there. Depending on the clinic set-up and waiting area, if there is not a separate space for cats where they can wait comfortably, it may be best to wait with your cat in the car until the vet is ready to see you.

Owning a cat can be a fun and rewarding experience

However, if they suffer an illness or injury, it can also be both stressful and expensive. British Pet Insurance Services can provide the support you and your cat need, whether it is with your insurance cover, making a claim or just helpful advice along the way.

Get a quote

Dr Andrew H Sparkes BVetMed PhD DipECVIM MANZCVS MRCVS

Andrew graduated from the Royal Veterinary College (London) in 1983, and after four years in practice joined the University of Bristol as a resident in feline medicine. After the residency, he completed a PhD, and was then appointed as Lecturer in Feline Medicine. In 2000, he moved to the Animal Health Trust in the UK where in 2008 he took over as Head of the Division of Small Animal Studies. In 2012 he was appointed as Veterinary Director of International Cat Care and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), and since 2019 he has been an independent consultant. Andrew has published widely, is a diplomate of the ECVIM and is the founding and current co-editor of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.