The struggle is real—taking your cat to the vet can be a stressful, traumatic event for both you and your pet. If you’ve ever felt more than a little frazzled dragging Fluffy to and from the clinic, you’re not alone. According to Bayer Veterinary Healthcare, 58% of cat parents say their cat hates going to the veterinarian—and some even go so far as avoiding veterinary care altogether because of the stress.
For those of you who need all the help, you can get to fight that carrier barrier, there are strategies you can use to simplify the process.
In honor of Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, we’re sharing some purr-fect tips to help reduce pet—and pet owner—stress before, during and after each visit to your veterinary clinic.

Let your cat acclimatize to its carrier in a safe place

Leave the carrier out in the open in your home to allow your cat to explore the box on its own terms. When you pack the carrier away before and after every visit to the clinic, your cat will associate it with fear and feel stress instantly every time the carrier comes into view.

Place familiar blankets, towels and toys in the carrier

Just like humans, cats feel safer when surrounded by the familiar. By equipping the carrier with some of your cat’s favorite items, he or she will feel more at home and at ease.

Consider purchasing a “soothing cat spray” or a mild sedative

Some veterinarians sell soothing cat pheromone sprays or wipes designed to—you guessed it—soothe your cat with comforting scents inside the carrier. Some circumstances call for extreme measures, so if using a mild sedative at home is the only way to get your cat to a clinic, do speak to your veterinarian about your options.

Don’t be afraid to bribe your cat into the carrier

While you want to avoid over-feeding your cat with unhealthy treats, it can be useful to reward your cat as an incentive for him or her to enter the carrier more willingly. Giving cuddles can also be a nice treat—plus it may also help calm your cat down.

Keep your emotions in check

It can be just as upsetting and emotional for pet owners to watch their cats struggle and suffer through a vet appointment—but cats can pick up on that. If you are distressed, their own stress will also heighten, so do try to stay as calm as possible to set the right example.
Despite the difficulties associated with taking your cat to the vet, the longterm benefits of providing essential veterinary care far outweigh the stress of the process. Using these tips can help make it easier, so we can all focus on keeping our cats healthy and happy.