Preparing Your Cat for an Appointment

Fear Free LogoWhat is Fear Free?

Founded in 2016, Fear Free is a certification program for Veterinary Professionals developed by hundreds of experts in behavior, medicine, and handling. The goal is to reduce or remove anxiety triggers that can cause pets to become fearful at home, in transport, and at the veterinary hospital. Reducing fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) for our patients makes the veterinary visit more comfortable for our patients, our clients, and our team.

When to start preparing for your visit – The carrier

Many cats are uncomfortable with seeing their cat carrier because it is only brought out when the cat is going to the veterinary hospital. Ideally your cat carrier would be kept in location your cat sees regularly and your cat would receive special treats or meals inside their carrier so it was a happy place instead of a scary one. We realize this is not always possible, but when preparing for your veterinary visit your carrier should come out about a week prior to the appointment. Try taking the top off the carrier and putting a comfortable bed our favorite blanket in their so your cat might nap there. If your cat has a favorite treat feeding it in or near the carrier can help reduce fear, anxiety and stress (FAS). Do not wait until the morning of your appointment to get your cat carrier out.

The day of your appointment

  • Hungry is good: If medically appropriate, reduce the amount of food your cat gets prior to their veterinary visit. This can help with nausea in the car and make treats during the veterinary visit more appealing.
  • Bring Treats: Bring lots of your cat’s favorite treats with you. Each treat should be small, no larger than half a pea in size, so cut or break treats if necessary. It is better to have too many treats than not enough.
  • Pheromones Help: Using calming pheromones, such as Feliway, can help promote relaxation. Cats are comforted by familiar smells using an item that smells like home, such as a favorite blanket, and adding a calming pheromone spray can help them feel more at home in their carrier. When using a pheromone spray allow 10 to 15 minutes for it to dry before putting your cat in the carrier for best effect.
  • Leave Early: Budget extra time to pack up and drive to Anchor for your appointment to avoid being rushed. If you are stressed, your cat will be too.
  • Music is your friend: Playing calming music, or music specifically designed for pets, at a low volume can help reduce stress in the car.
  • Temperature Matters: Make sure you pre-warm or pre-cool your car based on the season. This ensures your cat is comfortable and not stressed by a sudden temperature change.
  • How to transport the cat carrier: When carrying your cat in the carrier hold it from the bottom at chest height, like you are holding a fragile package. This keeps the carrier more stable than holding it by the handle and keeps the cat feeling more comfortable. When you bring the carrier to your car the ideal location to put it is on the floorboards behind the passenger seat. This location is secure and minimizes visual stimulation which can cause FAS.

Ask us for specific recommendations for your cat! We are here to help you and your cat. Every cat is different and has their own needs. If your cat often vomits in the car or is anxious around new people or places, we may prescribe medication to give prior to their appointment.

Preparing for your appointment – Pre-Visit Questionnaire

To help us best prepare for your appointment please fill out the pre-visit questionnaire. Knowing what causes FAS in your cat helps us know the best way to reduce and prevent FAS.

FAS Ladder for Cats

Click to Enlarge

Fear, Anxiety and Stress Scale (FAS)

Most of our communication with our cat is through body language. It can be hard to recognize the subtle signs of FAS. Most people recognize the sever signs of FAS but it can be difficult to see the more subtle mild and moderate signs. Learning to detect these signs can help prevent mild stress from developing into severe stress.