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Q: How do I prepare my kitten for veterinary visits?

A: A little bit of preparation will reduce stress for both you and your cat when visiting the veterinarian. Cats usually don’t go for frequent car rides, so any trip outside the home may result in increased levels of fear, anxiety, and stress before you even factor in taking your cat to a veterinarian.

Early Socialization

For a cat to be friendly and well-adjusted, early interactions with humans and other animals are important, but genetics often play a significant role in your cat’s behavior. Socialization classes, sometimes called “kitty kindergarten,” offer an opportunity to expose your kitten to handling, carrier training, grooming, and appropriate play with other kittens. Socialization classes can provide a chance to learn about basic cat care, litterbox basics, the importance of enrichment, harness training, and positive reinforcement training.

Handling Exercises

Helping kittens and cats to feel comfortable when picked up or being held, examined, groomed, and during nail trims, reduces anxiety about these procedures in the future. All handling should be done with the addition of food. Things like lickable mats and snuffle mats can free your hands during these interactions.

Carrier Training

If your cat isn’t familiar with a carrier or the carrier is only used to travel to the veterinary office, they are less likely to associate the carrier with something fun or good. Carrier training is one way to make sure your cat enjoys the carrier. Trips are easier and less stressful if your cat is eager to enter the carrier when you bring it out.

A veterinary hospital does not have to can be a scary place for your cat. Bring your lickable mats, favorite toys, and treats with you. Adequate socialization, early handling, and carrier training from a young age will help trips to the veterinary hospital be more predictable and maybe even fun.