7 Tips to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful for Cats

5. Train Her to Tolerate Being Handled

During an exam, your vet will check your cat from head to tail. Some cats may not appreciate having a stranger touch them. Ideally, you should teach your cat to tolerate being handled while she’s still a kitten, but she can still learn as an adult. Practice holding and picking her up the right way and ask friends to do the same. She’ll probably protest the most when you handle her paws. Build her tolerance to paw handling by holding each of her paws and gently pressing on each toe. And don't forget to dole out plenty of treats and praise! This will be especially helpful when you need to trim her nails.

6. Reward Good Behavior

Teaching your cat to love the vet clinic takes patience — and you can’t force the love. We know how frustrating transporting or handling a cat can be, but you shouldn’t take your frustration out on your cat. Punishment will only make her more scared and anxious. Focus on rewarding your cat when she does something good — no matter how small or insignificant it seems. Did she sniff her carrier? Give her a treat or praise her with affection (if those are things she likes). Did she make the trip in the car without hissing? That deserves a reward, too. The goal is to help your cat form a positive association with every step, from before and during veterinary visits to the trip home. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s not as difficult as you may think.

7. Talk to Your Veterinarian

For some cats, no amount of treats and praise will make them change their tune when it comes to vet visits. If your cat is particularly anxious, your vet may recommend sedation or other calming strategies. In extreme cases, finding a veterinarian who makes house calls may help. But don’t let your cat's anxiety stop you from scheduling regular veterinary exams — your cat’s health is too important to risk.

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