As any cat owner knows, getting your cat to the vet can be a challenge, but regular veterinary checkups are one of the most important things you can do to keep your cat happy and healthy.
To make this process less stressful for you and your cat, Paula Plummer, a surgical oncology technician at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, shares some tips on preparing for a visit to the vet.
One of the first questions pet owners ask is how often they should take their cat to the vet.
“As kittens, they need to be checked monthly as they go through their kitten vaccine series,” said Plummer. “As your cat gets older, visits may only be required annually. Your veterinarian can change their recommendations based on your cat’s needs, so it is best to follow their advice. “
Whether you are bringing a new kitten to your first appointment or want to check the health of an older cat, it is helpful to make a list of questions in advance so that nothing is forgotten during the appointment.
“If you’re looking for veterinary help because you’ve adopted a new kitten, ask about nutrition, environmental enrichment, vaccines, flea / tick / heartworm / parasite prevention, and general care information,” said Plummer. “If you are seeking veterinary help for a cat’s disease, ask about the condition, including medications, treatment options, and any lifestyle changes that may occur.”
The first time you are taking your pet to a new veterinarian, it is important that you provide the doctor with a full medical history of your cat.
Previous medical services can either be brought with you or emailed to your vet in advance. These records may include current medications, x-rays and other imaging tests, laboratory work, and test results, among other things. For newly adopted kittens, owners should bring all of the documentation they received from adoption.
A good understanding of the brands of food and the amount your cat will eat will also help your veterinarian become familiar with your pet.
For cats, the hardest part of a vet visit can’t happen in the hospital, but rather while driving there. For cats with little experience in driving, a long drive has the potential to be very stressful. To relieve anxiety when driving, Plummer recommends porter training as early as the kitten stage.
“When choosing a cat stretcher, please keep the veterinary team in mind and their ability to safely remove your beloved feline family member from it in the hospital,” said Plummer. “The safest carrier bag for your cat and the team is a hard shell carrier with a soft, cozy bed in it.”
To help your cat familiarize himself with the pet carrier, Plummer suggests “leaving the pet carrier indoors so your pet can get used to it”.
Because cats are odor sensitive, owners can try incorporating soothing scents to create a sense of familiarity if they are still hesitant to approach when approaching a wearer. This may include using old bedding or clothing covered with their owner’s scent in the carrier bag, or spraying a synthetic cat pheromone on and around the carrier.
Most importantly, car owners should remember that a veterinarian who knows their pet personally can provide the best advice on dealing with travel anxiety.
“Veterinarians and their caregivers work to understand each cat’s unique needs by interpreting their body language and facial reactions,” said Plummer. “The ability to assess a cat’s anxiety allows staff to relieve the stress of the veterinary exam and make the experience comfortable for both the owner and their cat.”
Because of this, “It is always best to seek veterinary advice for specific anti-anxiety recommendations for you and your beloved cat family member,” she said.
Learning to care for our feline friends begins with routine veterinary visits to ensure that your cat’s individual health needs are met. By being aware of a cat’s anxiety levels and comfort zones, owners can help turn a potentially fearful check-up into a stress-free adventure.
Pet Talk is a service provided by the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University. Stories can be found on the Pet Talk website. Suggestions for future topics can be directed to email@example.com.