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Does your cat hate making trips to the vet? If so, you're not alone!

Capital Gazette Communications

Published 11/18/11

Q: My cat is 8 years old. It has been at least three years since I took him to the vet, maybe more. I used to take him once a year for a check-up and vaccinations, but it was such an ordeal that I stopped. I always got scratched putting him in the carrier, he howled the whole way to the vet, then he hissed and tried to bite and scratch the doctor and assistant. Is it worth trying to take him again?

A: Your cat is not alone. A recent survey of over 1,000 cat owners showed that 58 percent of cats hate going to the vet. Many of these cat lovers decide not to make regular visits to their veterinarian for wellness exams and preventive care. The cats may suffer the consequences of not getting adequate health care and only see their vet when they have been sick.

Particularly for older cats like yours, routine physical examinations and lab tests can catch problems when they are just starting, hopefully making treatment more successful.

The first step to make your next visit easier will require some changes at home. Keep your cat's travel crate out in a room he spends time in. To attract him to the crate, put a soft bed in it, or article of clothing with your scent. Treats and catnip in the crate can help also. Hopefully that will be enough to encourage him to get in and out of the crate willingly.

If this isn't enough to make him comfortable, spray the crate with Feliway pheromone spray. It should help reduce anxiety associated with the carrier. It also helps to spray the car before you take him in it. When it is time for a visit, if he won't go in the crate with a little coaxing, avoid putting him through the front of the crate against his will. Take the top off and set him in it that way.

Once you arrive at the veterinarian, if there isn't a separate waiting room for cats, ask to be put into an exam room while you wait for your appointment to avoid the stress of dogs nearby. It's even better if your vet has separate exam rooms for cats away from the dog exam rooms. If this isn't possible, ask if your vet makes house calls or consider a veterinarians who only see cats in their practice.

Please don't avoid taking your cat for check-ups. If you wait until he is sick, it may be too late.

Dr. Francine K. Rattner is a veterinarian at South Arundel Veterinary Hospital in Edgewater. Please send questions to

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