How to survive trips to the vet with your head held high

A survival guide for coping with trips to the vet from a senior cat.

cat on vet table

Sarabi copes with visits to the vet by thinking of her happy space, catnip on a hot Summer’s day.

It’s 8:10 am and it’s time to leave the house to get to the vet on time but Fluffy is nowhere to be seen. You frantically search under every bed, in the cupboards and even the shower (well, because cats are weird like that and you’re half expecting to find him there, but of course he’s not) and there is no sign of him. Fluffy has sniffed something sinister a mile away and it smells like “vet checkup!” For most cats, myself included, this Houdini tactic is something we have all done at some point in our nine lives. But today I would like to let you in on my transition from a cat who bolted from the cat carrier to a grand old dame who cheerfully hops inside and loves feeling the wind in her whiskers. Well, not today, though, it was -20 degrees celsius and I was certain my old bones would not take kindly to frozen whisker syndrome for the first time, so I settled for the back seat of the car, in a cat carrier. (Yes, I know, boring!)

Think of your happy space, like chin sritches, or butterflies in summer

Now for all you seasoned cats out there, you might knowingly blink at a few points, you might flick your tail in disbelief or you might just start washing your paws in embarrassment. But for the youths out there, let this old lady Bengal (that’s moi!) give you a few pointers on how to survive the trip to the vet with your dignity intact.

10 Survival tactics for surviving trips to the vet.

1.
Own your cat carrier. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s your safe space, use it! A good idea is for the humans to leave the carrier out the night before so it’s not a big surprise when it’s time to leave. Train them to play games with you in the carrier a few days before the vet appointment, like chasing your mouse or catching Da bird.

2.
Don’t be shy to bring along your favorite toy in the carrier with you. Anything that is going to make you feel good and remind you of home, is a plus in my book.

3.
Your human can also give you a few drops of rescue remedy if you’re a very nervous kitty and really hate car rides. Oh, I remember those days!

4.
It’s no use screaming and performing like a banshee during the car ride. This will most certainly agitate your nerves further and you might end up throwing up in the car. Believe me, I know I’ve been there, and it’s nasty.

5.
Don’t eat a meal just before you’re about to leave. Some cats, like myself, get car sick. Refer to number 4!

6.
When you arrive at the vet’s office be prepared for all manner of odors, remember there are a lot of woofies there too. Remain calm, they are just as freaked out as you are.

7.
Resist the urge to paw at the carrier like there’s a vacuum cleaner behind you. Firstly, you will look like it’s your first time, and secondly, there is no vacuum cleaner after you. Repeat the mantra “It’s all in my head, it’s all in my head…”

8.
When the vet is ready to examine you, be sure to disembark from your Royal Cat Carrier with confidence, ease, and elegance. Do not hold on tightly, gripping the back of the carrier recoiling into a nervous wreck of fur and claws. Just hop out casually like you’re in your own living room, just emptier.

9.
When in doubt, purr up a storm. It relaxes you as well as everyone around you so the poking and prodding go quicker and it’s over before you know it. The technicians handling you will be cooing all over you like kitties on catnip.

10.
Lastly, a calming tactic which works very well in my ripe old age is to let my mind drift off to my favorite safe space and be in my zen zone. There’s nothing better than being transported to a hot summer’s day chasing butterflies and sniffing catnip. And as we all know, that smells nothing like “vet checkup!”

Watch 10 ten seconds of me, casually waiting for the vet to arrive.

The cherry on the catnip pie was when my results of my blood profile came back as pretty normal for an almost 15-year-old cat.

For more tips on this topic see our other posts on preparing your cat for travel and visits to the vet.

Caturday love from

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About the author

Chirpy Cats

We are ten chirpy felines sharing our space with two humans who adore us. We love to share tips on connecting cats and their people, as well as ideas on cat environment enrichment and other fun stuff.

11 Comments

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  • Dear Sarabi, could you please pass this along to my Charlie as he is one that tends to disappear when it’s time to go to the vet. Of course, he had a traumatic beginning with urinary blockage as a kitten and had to stay in the “hospital” at the vet’s for a couple of weeks. But I wouldn’t think he would remember anything after all these years. And it’s just for an annual exam to make sure all is still good. Thank you, Charlie’s Mom

    • I hope Charlie is doing well now. Ironically, at this minute, our Charlie is spending a few days at the vet because of a urinary blockage. Very traumatic for him and he doesn’t like the cage!

  • I’m pretty good ’bout stuff like this. Bein’ a celebrity cat, I have a reputation to maintain, you see. But some of my fur-sibs? Let me tell you… You know, I’m once heard my doctor say she was gonna book her holidays when my late Auntie Primrose was due for her annual check-up. MOUSES!

  • These are great and simple tips. I can always sense it in karly when it time to ride.
    This is my second visit to your site, and it has been very helpful on the two occasions. It an awesome post you have here.

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